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Mark Robberds  July 20-22 Power Living Sydney July 27 Power Living Adelaide July 28-29 Power Living Perth Sept 22-27 Greek Islands Sept 29-30 Athens Oct 5-7 Milan

(Sound on) The Rule of Three: First is luck... two’s a streak... three’s a SKILL 🙌🏼 Those of you who have been following me know that this was one of my goals before I hit 50 - made with seven years to spare 😃 thanks @justinshape (and everyone else who has helped me with this) for the motivation today 🙌🏼

A few bits from this morning’s practice. We often think of handstands as making the shoulders tight, but I feel like I’ve learnt more about shoulder mechanics in the last three years of discovering this art, than in all my years prior practicing yoga asanas. Why that is is of course the subject of a whole other post - which a lot of people don’t accept anyway, so it’s better to keep some things secret 😉. Frames 2 and 3 - the one arm is coming! I liked what @lind.slaaay said the other day about IG being a practice diary. When I first started here on IG it was my travel diary, then it became a place to document my asana practice, and thoughts on philosophy combined with travel - but now that has become too cliche, so it’s back to my practice diary and some practice tips. Anyway, the one arm is on the way - as with everything else it’s just a matter of consistent,
dedicated practice and hours and hours of repetition. Sometimes doubt creeps in. I’ve had moments where I thought maybe I’ll never be able to do it. Other times where I wonder why I’m putting in so much time to learn one skill. You have to keep casting the doubts aside. You fall down thousands of times and you get back up again. Every now and again you get a glimpse of magic and this keeps you coming back for more. Always remembering that you are already enough, already everything you are searching for - this is probably the biggest gift that Yoga taught me - the rest is just part of this play we call life.

In this day and age, where hands on adjustments are so controversial, it has been an interesting and thought provoking experience to be practicing again with my handbalancing teacher @miguel_hand_balance who is definitely a (highly skilled) hands on teacher. Sometimes the muscle memory of proprioception needs to be taught in this way - otherwise the mind will not understand what the body has to do.
This adjustment was intense! It was my first time trying this ‘flag’ position. Despite the risk of adjustments, there is something beautiful about being able to relax into that intensity and fully trust in your teacher. The teacher also needs to be highly sensitive and tuned in to what the student can handle. Ideally the teacher will train the student to build the awareness and strength to do this alone, but sometimes the hands on experience is a more direct and powerful way to transmit the teaching.
This is why I love being a student and not just a teacher. It’s so important to switch the roles in terms of continual evolution.
Something to consider as we move navigate this shifting landscape within the yoga world.

Another posture that always comes up for debate is the shoulder positioning in Adho Mukha Svanasana aka Down (Facing) Dog. Again, my problem with the anatomy books is that they describe both a static posture and someone’s concept of what the ‘ideal’ positioning should be. This is already problematic since there are so many unique variables to consider in different individuals. There is also the problem (and this is a common theme) that often students are being asked to do things that they are not prepared to do since they have not built up the necessary awareness, strength and control to understand the movements in non-weight bearing poses - usually the Down Dog is taught as one of the first postures to beginners - and since it is such a heavy weight bearing pose it is simply inaccessible to many people. Then the teacher (and I’ve been one of them) goes through this never ending process of trying to rotate the shoulders this way and the elbows that way, and relaxing the traps etc etc.... Why not teach students how to move their shoulders in all directions? How to dis-associate the gleno-humeral joint from the scapulae and vice-versa? Why not give them the tools to increase their thoracic spine mobility in this pose? Or how to isolate each vertebrae of the spine? These are the options I’m into exploring in my practice and teaching these days. It’s about creating more movement freedom and possibilities. While I continue to explore options beyond the yoga mat and tradition, my curiosity is in finding ways to integrate this knowledge into the practice.
If you’d like to learn more I’ll be teaching in Australia in July and Italy and Greece in September- including our first ever Greek Islands Retreat. Check my website for details and email for more information. 🙏

Oh it’s nice to see some colour and places on my feed! This was my first trip to Hong Kong and I must say that I really enjoyed it. Of course the experience of travel - even when it’s for work (I still find it hard to call it that) is really about the people you meet, and I have some very close friends here, and the others that I met were so friendly and hospitable.
Hong Kong 🇭🇰 itself is such an interesting mix of east and west and of the old and new world culture. I found this reflected in the students who came to my workshop - the majority of them representing the paradigm shift that is happening right now; an open minded approach that is willing and curious to embrace different perspectives and integrate a multi-disciplined practice. The old paradigm of either/or, this/that, all or nothing, is shifting as many people are waking up to the realisation that we don’t have to put one against the other - but rather we can learn and benefit from a variety of approaches.
Thanks Hong Kong and @pureyogaofficial for welcoming me and my approach so wholeheartedly. I’ll be back. 🙏
@miguel_hand_balance thanks for the photo buddy 🤸🏼‍♂️

One of the big problems I have with most yoga anatomy books is that they present a static interpretation of asana/postures, and those interpretations are more or less based upon BKS Iyengar’s interpretations of the postures from 40+ years ago.
For example, after 20 years of practice I can confidently state that my body is not built to do Virabhadrasana A (Warrior 1) the way that he did it. To do it the way he did it requires an amount of ankle dorsiflexion and foot pronation/supination that is not available to me - and the majority of yoga students.
If I attempt to maintain a 90 degrees thigh/shin angle of the front leg, external rotation of the back leg, while keeping the outer edge of the back foot (inversion of the foot/ankle joint complex) down, then something will be compromised up the chain - in the knee, hip joint, sacro-iliac and lumbar spine. How many times have you seen a teacher (maybe you’ve even done it - I know if have 🤦🏼‍♂️ stand on the outer edge of a students foot without observing what that does to the rest of the body). In this posture the ankle/foot cannot be separated from the rest of the body.
What Yoga teachers should be trying to achieve is to give our students the tools to understand their own bodies so that they can adapt and modify the postures to fit them - not the other way around. We also need to start seeing the postures not as static, fixed positions but as dynamic ones that will have a variety of movement possibilities in which we can explore different joint ranges and angles.

This is one of my favourite ways to “warm up” my back and shoulders for more dynamic movements like tic-tocs, walkovers etc and it’s a very good way for anyone (myself included) to understand the different actions required for the Hollowback (vid 1) and the Scorpion (vid 2). The main difference between the two is the shoulder and head position. For the hollowback you need to “open” the shoulders by moving the chest/shoulders back to the wrists - or beyond - but be careful doing this as it’s potentially dangerous to do this without progressive preparation. For the scorpion the chest moves forward and the shoulders over the centre of the palms (sometimes you’ll see people going even further forward. The head lifts up in this position as the chest comes towards the floor or towards parallel - depending on the range of the person.
Using a wall is a good option to start with and then as you progress start to find lower and lower objects to work with. Remember to breathe. Some cramping in the posterior chain - hamstrings in particular, might happen but don’t force - remember this is a “warm up”. Once you understand this pattern when you are cold you will be able to do more when you integrate it into your practice.

Errrday is legs day right? Unfortunately not if all you are practicing is Yoga asana. As much as I love the practice there’s simply not enough leg work to keep the body strong (to the level that I want anyway) for other physical activities as we age. I know that this is a personal perspective and some people may be happy doing less and less physical activity as they age.
However we can easily supplement our practice with more single leg balancing postures that focus on hip hinging and squats - like pistol squats, behind the leg pistols, Hawaiian squats etc...However being able to do these movements easily is not necessarily going to mean you’re legs/glutes are strong - it may just be that you have mobile ankles. So to even the playing field I recommend trying these by first hip hinging - pushing the butt back and not letting the knees go past the toes (which is not bad it just makes it easier) and then you can even try it with the heel raised as I do in the Hawaiian squat at the end.
While these are all great, and I need to focus more on them since my practice primarily focuses on upper body strength, for the lower body nothing can beat hip hinges and squats (I.e deadlifts, front and back squats for example) done with weights. As sacrilegious and non-yogic as that may sound. 🙊 It’s something to consider and I have much more to say on this matter - but I feel it’s my responsibility as one of the “elders” of this current generation to point out that we are only now seeing the results of the first generation of western Yogis who only practiced asana, and I’m sure most of them will tell us that they wished they had focused a little more on strength and stability than flexibility. Food for thought... I never thought I’d say it but I do believe it to be true.

Karandavasana is one of those postures that a lot of students want to know what the secret is. The secret is: What goes down must come up 🙃. Actually I don’t know if there really is a secret but what I teach my students is to work on controlling the descent by going to - but not past - the point of no return and back up again. Usually I suggest to do it like this: go a 1/5 of the way down and back up, then 2/5, 3/5, with control all the way to the top. Then a 1 minute rest. Then again 4/5 down - which is hovering just above the shoulders and back up. I will spot them on this if needed. Rest if needed. Then the next one will be all the way down with control and I will then spot them on the way up - using less and less assistance over time. In theory this is the most logical progression that I’ve been able to think of. In theory if this protocol is followed then it will work. However this posture is damn hard and maybe it simply requires too much strength for some people - which is fine. As long as the work is done and the lessons learned then it’s time to move on as the strength built in this process will transfer well to the rest of the practice.
The most common mistake I see is avoiding this process of building the end range of control and simply collapsing down and then relying on the teacher to lift them back up. Another mistake is unfolding out of Lotus too early - instead of waiting until the hips are above the shoulders.
Oh about the second video... occasionally I’ll do this pose for reps just to see where I’m at.

What is the common element in all of these backbend movements? 1 • The knees travel forward past the toes (and the heels lift - when both feet are on the floor) 2 • The foot turns out (and the heel lifts when going backwards) when one one leg. The reason is obvious: in order to stand up or drop back the body’s centre of gravity must travel forward - and the main place where this will happen (besides the pelvis - the hips must stay extended - yes glutes will be activated) is at the knees. The degree to which the heels must lift or the feet turn out will depend on the flexibility of the ankles and spine. This is a point often overlooked by both beginners and many teachers, but one that dancers, breakdancers, martial artists, capoeiristas and anyone that is into dynamic movement understands. Keeping the heels down in backbends is great for static holds, but when it comes to movements like these then it limits possibilities. My top picks for learning these types of skills are the first two movements I demonstrate here as well as incorporating Sissy squats into your practice (as long as your knees are not aggravated by it). Anyway that’s my two cents worth. 🙃

Here’s a little sample of my ongoing rings practice (both push and pull, as well as straight arm and bent arm movements) that I’ve been developing over the last 2 1/2 years thanks to Ido Portal. Some people might think these movements don’t sit well with an asana or Yoga practice, but I have found them to compliment and integrate perfectly with asana. First of all, as many people are aware these days, active pulling and hanging - combined with increased grip strength, provides a counterbalance to all the pushing movements done with wrist extension found in modern yoga practices. Secondly the pushing movements done on the rings like L-Sits, dips, shoulder stand etc are similar to what is done on a yoga mat but infinitely harder given the instability of the rings - yet the skill translates directly back to the mat. That is one of the benefits of learning new skills - the nervous system thrives on this: and so I am finding that the more different things I learn - the better my asana practice becomes. Having no intention to be a gymnast or to prove anything, learning the rings has been an important part of my evolution in terms of what learning means to me. It sounds cliche, but truly it has been enjoyable to learn something new without being goal orientated.
Another important and positive discussion going on in our culture today is that building strength doesn’t necessarily correlate with becoming ‘tight’; which is something that many yoga practitioners fear. In reality, building strength through a full range of motion, is a safer and more effective way to move better and in the long run may prove to be a wiser approach than relying solely on flexibility training. Many of the assumptions about the effectiveness of asana practice, such as increasing bone density, or the ability to cure diseases, are now being challenged, and the question of “Where is the scientific proof?” is being asked. It’s through these discussions that our traditions will continue to evolve. It is our duty to utilise the information available to us today in a way that continues to contribute to our ongoing discovery and exploration. There’s much more to say but I’ll leave it there today.

These days it’s cool to see that spinal waves and joint articulation have come (back) into fashion...so here’s a good challenge for you: spinal waves back and forward on hands, feet and knees - kind of like ‘The Worm 🐛’ done by BBoys in breakdancing - but without the jumps - but feel free to add them in 😉. This feels great for the spine, will challenge your coordination, and ends up being a killer core and arms drill that is also a lot of fun. Tag me in your stories if you try it 🐛🐛🐛

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