Free Download! Understanding Compensation Patterns in Yoga: The 5 Essential Movements of the Spine

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Olga Kabel

Olga Kabel Educated as a school teacher, Olga Kabel has been teaching yoga for over 15 years. She completed multiple Yoga Teacher Training Programs, but discovered the strongest connection to the Krishnamacharya/ T.K.V. Desikachar lineage. She had studied with Gary Kraftsow and American Viniyoga Institute (...

People tend to bring pre-established movement habits and postural issues with them to a yoga class, and when they start practicing yoga, they just fall into the same patterns of movement and body positioning, says Viniyoga therapist, Olga Kabel in this interview.

It can often seem overwhelming for teachers to keep an eye on all the students and addres all the different types of misalignment that tend to arise In yoga classes, to keep the students comfortable and safe.

However, there are really just a few specific patterns of misalignment that are typical for each directional movement of the spine, says Olga. This can greatly simplify the act of teaching.

Even though there are hundreds of yoga poses, it is possible to condense the key teaching points we bring to class by grouping the poses, and then understand the basic principles and what are you trying to accomplish in each group of poses.

The simplest way to do this, notes Olga, is by identifying what the spine is doing in the pose that you’re teaching. The spine can only move in five ways: forward bending, backbending, sideways, rotation, and lengthening, or axial extension.

So once we identify which movement of the spine is involved in the pose, we know what we’re trying to accomplish with the pose and what the potential issues are that we will come across.

Olga also discusses the concept of release valves, or common compensation patterns and what they mean for our practice as teachers. She further talks about how the focus on alignment matterscan be a powerful remedy to help students break physical habits that don’t serve them and develop a closer relationship with their body.

Also check out Olga's YogaUOnline course Avoiding Yoga Injuries - Common Alignment Mistakes in Forward Bends and Twists.