Question 1: First of all, thank you so much for your videos. The yoga for feet (video) has been a game changer for me.
My question has to do with child's pose. I have very bony knees, and it seems like there is no way to get comfortable in the pose because my knees end up grinding in to the floor even through the mat. Is there any way to get the same benefits, or a pose that I can substitute?
Answer 1: I used to experience this very thing when I was dealing with arthritic issues. Folding the mat to give more cushion helped me, and maybe it'd help you, too. You just grab the mat 3/4 of the way from the end and fold it over as shown above. If that doesn't work for you, feel free to come into whatever pose you feel most centered and grounded in, as that's generally what we want out of child's pose. Something like savasana or a seated pose with your legged crossed will work.
Question 2: So I've decided to try to get healthy! Yay for me. I ran across your blog originally by researching joint issues and lyme disease. I quit smoking about six months ago and I have lost 25lbs and now I've decided to give yoga a shot since the stretching and balancing seems to help. Right now I am concentrating on short practices with some stretching first. I really need to get my core stronger I think. I also work in a high stress law office, so the grounding I get from yoga helps tremendously. I guess I wanted to get your advice on what I should be concentrating on. I am 47. I try to ride my bike and walk when I can. I am super flexible in my back I guess. I can bend over and touch my hands flat on the floor; I can hold my leg out in front of me straight while I hold my toes. I have a replaced acl in my left knee and I've noticed that some of the poses really seem to hurt that knee so I have to modify. I'm working on pigeon right now and just bought a block because I don't think my hips are straight and plus that knee does not like that pose!! But I want to do things like everyone else...realizing of course, that I probably can't. You are truly an inspiration to me and I just wanted to know what you think I should be striving for.
Answer 2: Awesome that you're determined to get in shape! While you may be super flexible in your back, what you're describing in being able to bend over and put your hands flat on the ground is really flexible hamstrings (and a bit of back flexibility as well). So that is awesome! I like to work in opposites, so if you're super flexible in the hamstrings, check out your flexibility in the quadriceps and hip flexors with poses like dancer's pose, low lunge and bridge pose. If you want to explore a more meditative type of yoga, I would suggest the 30 minute restorative video I have. Best of luck as you start your yoga journey!
Related: Dancer's pose variations.
Question 3: Hi! I recently begin my practice and I have problems doing poses like forward fold without a curve my back. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you so much!!!
Answer 3: Well, due the shape our torsos make when we fold over the thighs, we'll likely never have a completely flat back - it's natural for there to be a small curve. However, I do have some ideas for you to minimize the rounding in the back.
Forward folds are all about the hamstring flexibility. I suggest using a yoga block for your forward folds. The yoga block gives a little more space and length for the hamstrings.
The other thing I suggest is visualizing the stomach melting toward the thighs, instead of the common thought of getting the forehead to the knee. When we think about the stomach moving toward the thighs, the low back initiates length in the spine, whereas when we think about our foreheads touching our knees, we automatically get a major curve in the upper back.
Question 4: Hi, I really appreciate your blog and your videos. I started doing yoga at the beginning of this year as I had something very difficult to go through and it seems like these difficulties never stop. Lately I have been feeling so down that everytime I do yoga, I only do a short sequence and I tend to also repeat the same poses... My head, my mind and my body seem to just be stuck.. Do you have a motivation video or something like that, to help one get out of a rut, to clear the mind? I would like to practise yoga like I used to (and love). Yoga has helped me so much during this process, and I would like to continue forward and not be stuck doing the same poses every time!
Thank you so much!
Answer 4: I totally understand what you're saying. I experienced something similar (which I wrote about here), and know how hard it is to step on the mat when you have zero motivation.
I wrote about what to do when your yoga practice hits a plateau, and that may help, although I'm not sure if it's that you're bored in your practice or that what you've been dealing with in your life has drained you of energy (maybe a combination of the two?).
You also asked about motivational videos. When I'm lacking motivation, I like watching time lapse yoga videos. I've put one I made years ago above. You can tell my flexibility is lacking (it was also 5:30am and I had just woken up!) but even something like getting outside and practicing might be helpful. If you like the time lapse above, you might also want to check out the one I made in Ibiza, and Mallorca more recently.
Related: What we can learn from suffering
Question 5: I am not nearly as flexible as I want to be and I have been doing yoga for 2 or 3 years now and feel like I am stalled. I have been thinking that trying to work into taking binds might be the next step but I am not sure how to do this, or if it would be the best way. Maybe just adding a yoga strap in first? What do you recommend?
Answer 5: Yep, you're totally on the right track. I would pick up a yoga strap and work on binds. There are so many ways you can use a yoga strap to improve flexibility. I'll make a yoga video for flexibility using a strap for you within the next few weeks, and maybe that will help, too. Until then, you can try practicing along to this yoga video for upper back flexibility, and this video for strength and flexibility. Also check out this post on how to improve flexibility.
Remember that flexibility takes consistent practice, so be gentle on yourself if you don't see immediate results. Just keep practicing a little each day and it will come.
Question 6: I want to practice things like forearm stands and more advanced poses. How do you work those into your practice if your doing, say, one of your videos?
Answer 6: Awesome! The biggest thing is making sure you're warmed up enough in that particular part of the body that the advanced pose uses. For example, forearm stand requires a lot of upper body and core strength so I'd warm up with my yoga video for upper body strength. If you're doing something you've never done before, just google the heck out of it to make sure you know exactly what you should/shouldn't do, and if there are ways to modify so you don't get hurt. Hope that helps!