Our goal here is to highlight ways to incorporate Kinstretch and Functional Range Conditioning based principles into what you are doing in yoga for improved success. You might find that you are already doing something similar without the fancy acronyms. Here are the 5 Ways to Improve Yoga with Kinstretch.
Implement Sherrington’s Law of Irradiation
“A muscle working hard recruit is the neighboring muscles, and if they are already part of the action, it amplifies their strength. The neural impulses emitted by the contracting muscle reach other muscles and ‘turn them on’ as an electric current starts a motor”.
I like to explain this in terms of using tension to communicate what adaptions we want for our bodies. If you are always passively stretching, using light tension, or never reaching a maximum level of effort can we really expect monumental changes?
Introducing the concept of irradiation recruits more motor units, increasing neurological control forcing the body to adapt.
We can also use this tension to create independence for our joints which in turn will improve our base motor program resulting in an improved movement when we need to put it all together. Can my hip do its job first before I ask my entire body to coordinate a complex movement such as a squat or lunge?
In this video, Ian uses irradiation to isolate hip rotation in the common lunge pose.
Using Isometric Contractions
Isometrics are known as the safest of contraction types because of the lack of shear (no actual movement). These are a phenomenal way to pinpoint your specific weak spots and turn them into strengths.
With creativity, we can turn any isometric into a next-level challenge. In this video Ian demonstrates an isometric lunge with a shoulder C.A.R. During the demonstration he mentions prerequisites which is a priceless concept to understand for any movement endeavor.
In other words, can your shoulder do shoulder things before we ask our body to do handstand things?
An eccentric contraction is the motion of an active muscle while it is lengthening under load. There is a wealth of studies that show a large percentage of injuries occurring during the eccentric phase.
Think about all the poses that require sequences of fold this, pull that behind your head, while holding that with one hand twist the other way…
The truth is outside of your practice there is no function for the foot behind your head. That does not mean you can not prepare your body to successfully achieve this pose.
Even more importantly, your other training should include strategies that allow you to be healthy after you are done with this pose. That is a huge spot for eccentric focused training.
In this video, Ian demonstrates an eccentric focused split squat paired with thoracic rotation. You can take any exercises and focus on the eccentric portion. Another favorite of ours that in extremely relevant to yoga is eccentric focused push-ups with 8-10 seconds lowering into the bottom.
Always incorporate active control through full range of motion.
We have talked about isometric and eccentric focused training. Now we put it all together and own the movement there and back with high levels of Irradiation. This is such a perfect way to illustrate the difference between active and passive in the yoga community.
In my experience, the most common negative critique of yoga has something to do with too much passive stretching or too much flexibility without enough mobility focus. Flexibility is not bad.
Passive Range of Motion (flexibility) is NOT worthless. It is the pre-requisites to Mobility (usable flexibility). – Dewey Nielsen
Try these in any base position especially prone or face down. By manipulating the orientation of gravity we can change the exercise demands.
Train the diaphragm like a muscle
My favorite aspect of yoga is the inclusion of breathwork. I like to think of breathwork as the lowest hanging fruit in the universe. You absolutely have to breathe to stay alive so right off the bat we can differentiate this from cardio, C.A.R.’s, and strength training. It is as simple as are you breathing efficiently or not.
Again, each individual yoga experience is a conclusion of countless variables including the teacher. There was a recently a big campaign for the importance of “Belly Breathing”.
Expanding your belly is one of many options we should have control over but should not be prioritized over-expansion of the rib cage.
Simply put the diaphragm is a muscle and we should train it just like we do other muscles. That means we should include variability, rep schemes, maximum efforts, and other constraints.
We want you to be as successful in doing whatever you love. We have had tremendous results utilizing Kinstretch to improve our students’ yoga practice.
By applying Kinstretch in a systematic approach we can achieve that pose you have been working on and live pain-free feeling strong in the day to day life.
To learn more we suggest starting with our Level 1 Kinstretch Anywhere program. Thank you for reading and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.