Yoga Variability: Insights Into Load Management

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Challenge Overview

If you’re a teacher or student of yoga who wants to deepen your knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics, this course offers you insight into how load-bearing (think working against resistance) can enhance your and/or your students’ yoga practices. By deepening your understanding of your own body and how it needs to move, you can practice more thoughtfully and efficiently, and, if you’re a teacher, be of greater service to your students.

Demystifying some of the commonly held perspectives about what is or is not beneficial in yoga, author of Yoga Biomechanics: Stretching Redefined and yoga teacher trainer Jules Mitchell shares drills and yoga practices that provide variability (different angles of movement) and resistance, so you can experience the benefits of stretching and strengthening in new ways.

There are three short introductory talks where Jules explains key anatomical and biomechanical concepts and defines terms she uses throughout the four weeks of the program. Each week focuses on a particular area of the body: shoulders, hips, knees and ankles, and the spine. At the start of every week you'll receive an anatomy and biomechanics lesson where you’ll learn about the function and movement of the joint(s), along with some of the misconceptions we have about them, resistance drills to practice, and an asana class where you’ll integrate what you’ve learned.

Throughout the program, Jules offers valuable insights about movement, anatomical language, and about how our own perceptions affect how we move and teach. The emphasis of the program is on personal exploration—to do what feels good and right in your body.

Enjoy this inquiry into anatomy, movement, and your body’s capacity for strength.

Certificate of completion

3 CEU’s Upon Completion

Self Paced Learning

Challenge Outline

4.5hrs to complete

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Section 1
  • Jules explains the goals of this program, the types of biomechanical concepts you’ll learn, why she chose yoga as the modality for teaching load management, and the props you’ll need as well as household items you can substitute for them.
  • Learn what concentric, isometric, and eccentric muscle contractions are and the roles that effort, force, and gravity play.
  • In this short discussion, Jules defines the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes of motion and the types of movements that occur in each of them. She also provides examples of yoga poses that move in each plane so you’ll have context for the planes as you progress through the program.
Section 2
  • Jules teaches you the basics of shoulder anatomy and shoulder movement. She then unpacks some common misconceptions people have about chaturanga in a discussion about the connection between shoulder strength and shoulder mobility.
  • Props: blocks, bolster Learn how to do push-up progressions in this series of drills that are designed to prepare you for chaturanga. Even if you have a strong chaturanga practice, the drills provide variability (different angles of movement) for your shoulders and a good strength challenge.
  • Props: blanket, resistance band, blocks Explore variability in everyday yoga poses in this shoulder-focused class. You’ll begin on your back with an upper-body awareness practice. Then, you’ll do a warm-up for your shoulders before moving into plank variations, activating shoulder work in warrior ll, progressive shoulder-loading side plank variations, a “shoulder blade stand” that targets your triceps, and more. Let go of effort at the end in a blanket-supported fish pose followed by savasana.
Section 3
  • Jules teaches you the basics of hip anatomy and discusses how we can increase the capacity and health of our hips and hamstrings by doing resistance work.
  • Props: resistance band, blocks, blanket, chair Learn concentric, isometric, and eccentric resistance drills that are designed to strengthen your hips. Using props, you’ll load and move your hips in different ways in order to increase their overall capacity. You can use a sandbag or ankle weight instead of a resistance band for this class if you like.
  • Props: blocks, blanket, chair, resistance band, strap In this class, you’ll practice everyday poses in new ways, exploring variability with the intention of loading different areas of the hip joint. You’ll begin with a pelvic awareness practice followed by supine hip rotations, seated resistance work, strengthening lunges, warrior ll and half moon variations that emphasize muscle contraction, a pigeon variation that’s particularly great for people who are hypermobile, and more. The class concludes with a propped supine restorative pose where your legs are completely supported so your hips can relax—stay...
Section 4
  • Learn all about the knee and ankle joints—what type of joints they are and how they move. Jules also explains the role that the muscles surrounding these joints play in resistance work and how we can vary our yoga practice in order to increase the capacity of our lower extremities.
  • Props: blanket, sandbag (10 lbs. or less), chair, blocks Explore eccentric, isometric, and concentric contractions to activate the muscles surrounding your knee and ankle joints. Along the way, Jules gives you alignment suggestions to help you feel the intended actions in the targeted areas.
  • Props: blocks, strap, bolster, blanket Incorporate the principles you learned in the drills class into a knee-and-ankle focused yoga sequence. You’ll begin with a foot awareness practice, before doing a “blanket downward dog” designed to strengthen your ankles, calf raises in high lunge, an ankle-loading warrior l, a knee-loading navasana (boat pose) variation, and more.
Section 5
  • Jules sheds light on some of the misconceptions we have about the causes of back pain and the way that anatomical language influences how we think about the body and movement. She also discusses how doing different movement modalities, like tai chi and Pilates, can deepen our understanding of common yoga cues, and more.
  • Explore the different way your spine can move in this sequence that’s designed to help you develop greater awareness of the segments of your spine so you can become more mobile in your yoga practice. You’ll feel your way into different types of cat-cows, load-bearing squats, hollow body holds, and more. You’ll also learn why flexing and rotational movements are good preparation for backbends.
  • In this feel-good spinal mobility sequence, you’ll use your breath to direct movement into areas that sometimes get overlooked in yoga practice. You’ll first learn how to do a double exhalation, which you can explore further during the class. Then, you’ll experience reversing your inhales and exhales in sun salutations, practice warrior ll and triangle doing targeted breathwork, do upper-back focused camel variations, explore progressively deepening seated twists, and more.

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Meet Your Teacher

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Jules Mitchell
Jules Mitchell MS, CMT, RYT is a Las Vegas based yoga teacher, educator and massage therapist. She blends... Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely, you can include this challenge in your Yoga Alliance training hours, with each hour equivalent to one continuing education credit.
This challenge is entirely self- paced, allowing you to learn at your convenience.There are no imposed deadlines or time constraints for Challenge completion.
No prerequisites are required; this challenge is open to anyone interested in deepening their knowledge and practice.
No, the challenge is accessible to all individuals interested in enriching their understanding and practice of yoga.Yoga teaching certification is not a prerequisite.

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