Hey everyone! I would highly recommend that you watch the YouTube video for this week, so that you’re able to watch and listen. You can find it above. With the Alkaline Method, we have the four essential elements. Today’s topic is about the first two elements of the Alkaline Method and how they are incorporated in the practice of yoga.
That really goes into the area of the mind that is completely subconscious, which means that we’re not even aware of our tendencies. That’s what I call the subconscious mind. Each of the elements, remember, has three pillars. The three pillars within each element can really be applicable physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I teach the elements of the Alkaline Method through the Functional Yoga Medicine Certification program. It also shines through in the classes I teach here, in brick in mortar in Suwanee, Georgia. I also apply it within my patient care, with my Autoimmune Health Transformation clients.
So, with that being said, I really wanted to break down the journey. Too often, we think of yoga as the end expression of the pose. There are so many people with beautiful, lean, and strong bodies who are bendy, bendy, bendy, balancing into some inhumane positions. This leaves the rest of the population, who might be new to yoga and actually need it the most, to shy away from coming to an actual studio due to intimidation. The first thing that they tell us is their concern is that they’re not flexible and they’ve never done yoga. They don’t want to be intimidated.
Yoga is Not the Destination
But, healing is a journey. Yoga is not the destination. In fact, the final expression doesn’t even matter. It’s the growth that happens from the start. So, “any part of the pose is the pose” is the motto I stand by. What’s most important is that you activate your muscles and connect the mind to the body so that your spirit can take seat in the mind. Really, the yogis knew it best. We do asanas to quiet the mind, that way the metabolic waste can be metabolized, eliminated, and detoxified. That way, our mind can take seat in our body to meditate and silence our minds.
That being said, we have a hot yoga class and it’s kind of advanced, but we have beginner to advanced built into our Hot Alkaline Sequence. One of our seasoned yogis in that hot yoga class, as I saw it, was a patient, and I knew he had cervical radicular apathy. This means that he had a lot of neck issues. I saw the reason why because, during class on Saturday, he stood behind me. I was able to see what was going on, and it wasn’t a downward dog.
Let me just make it really clear that he’s been coming for a long time and is really strong. But, I can see that there’s some compensatory patterns that were knocking him way off to the end range of motion and really collapsing. So, I want to really talk about and break down the Surya Namaskar A and B. I want to really take it slow to explain how the Alkaline Method can be applied and to understand the structures that stabilize the movement we seek to make in our bodies.
Why Do You Practice Yoga?
At the end of the day, why do you practice yoga? Why do you want to be fit and lean? You want to be healthy. We don’t want to pose these self restrictions or punishments in the way of caloric intake restrictions, and all the things that go along with body image issues that we all have to an extent. We want to have really strong bodies that enable us to do things in this world. That’s the reason why we’re all here. Our bodies are the only house we’ll ever own and I want you to make sure that you’re inspired to maintain the health of it.
So, come to the top of your mat. I want you to inhale deep and raise your arms up over your head. Gaze up, and really find your anchor point. This is the number one pillar in the subconscious mind element of the Alkaline Method. Exhale and fold forward, palms to the mat. Make sure that you’re aligned. Knees above your ankles, hips above your knees, navel to the spine, spine coming all the way down. Inhale, with a strong lift of your chest. Keep a slight micro-bend in the knees, with your palms super flat.
Step your right foot way back, staying high on the right toes. Then, step your left foot way back, also staying high on the left toes. Stabilize the shoulder by pushing the floor away. The anchor points, or foundation, are my two hands and my toes. My wrist is aligned under my elbows, and my elbows are aligned under my shoulders. I’m keeping the navel pulled in and staying high on my toes. You want to round your spine, activating your muscles to create this polarity.
Here, I’m going to find my breath, the second pillar of the second element of the Alkaline Method. I’m going to really find my balance and choose to lower my knees and graze the elbows down by my side. Then, I want to push down to lift and gaze up. I’m sinking my hips all the way back, tucking my toes, lifting my knees, and press back. This is your downward dog.
A lot of the time, people sick into their shoulders and utilize their flexibility to get into a downward dog. So, I usually say you don’t sink into the armpit. You want the tailbone and the crown of your head to be in one line. If you’re hyper-arched, making a convex curve in your spine towards the floor, I want you to slightly round. Come out of the downward dog a little bit to round your spine. Find your hands and your two fit, because those are your anchor points and base of support.
From there, I want you to be aligned. Spiral the biceps forward, triceps back. This can be really fatiguing, and it’s easy when you hang on your bones. But, when you actually activate your muscles, it’s super hard. I’m pushing the floor away, find my foundation, which is both of my hands and feet. With my hands, I’m not dumping all of the weight onto my wrist, but pushing down through all five fingertips, hollowing out the space under my knuckles. I’m pushing the floor away, to find my core and activate my shoulder girdle, to keep the weight off my hands.
Maintaining Straight Lines in Yoga
Here, I’m aligned. A straight line is made from my hands to my tailbone. I want to be in that straight line, not in a curved line, bent towards the floor. From the tailbone down to the heels is another straight line. From there, I find my alignment and then the core. So, I find my core by really pulling in the naval, towards my spine. I find my polarity between my hands and my tailbone, then from my tailbone down to the heels.
I find my breath, which is the second pillar of the second element of the Alkaline Method, the conscious mind. Then, I find my balance, the third pillar of the conscious mind element. Gaze forward, bring your right foot forward, and then your left foot forward. Lift up your chest strong and exhale. Fold and inhale, sweeping your arms up over your head. Moving slow will allow you to activate your muscles a lot more. Inhale, and gaze up. Exhale, and fold forward, keeping a micro-bend in the knee If you need, palms to the mat, inhale and lift up your chest strong. Gaze forward, palms flat.
This time, left foot back, high on the toes. Then, bring your right foot back, staying high on your toes. If you can do a chaturanga, I want you to really push the floor away. Be honest about whether or not should should keep your knees down. There’s no shame in modifying. I want you to really utilize the triceps, delts, and biceps. Use your biceps, triceps, and shoulder girdle to make a break. Tuck your toes, lift your hips, downward dog, and breathe.
The Full Chaturanga Expression
The third one I will do is the full chaturanga expression. I wanted to break it down so that you can understand how to apply the pillars of the Alkaline Method. First, we had the foundation or base of support, the first pillar. Next is alignment, the second pillar. Third, is the core. All of these are part of the first element of the Alkaline Method, the subconscious mind. Now, we’re moving into the second element of the Alkaline Method, the conscious mind.
The first pillar in this element is polarity. This is the push and pull we’re always creating in the body. So, I’m pushing the floor away through the palms of my hands. The tailbone extends, not sinking into my shoulders, but really pulling out and rounding that space between my shoulder blades to push the floor away. I’m staying long in my neck and finding that polarity from the crown of my head to the tailbone, tailbone to the heels.
I finding my breath, because when your breath is shallow, you’re working too hard. You’re compensating. Finding balance, the third pillar of the second element of the Alkaline Method, means right and left symmetry. This time, bring your left foot forward between your hands, then bring your right foot between your hands. Push the floor away and inhale, with a strong of your chest. Gaze forward and inhale, sweeping your arms up overhead. Gaze up, pulling the navel to the spine, tuck your tailbone, and exhale. Palms to the mat.
Finding Your Foundation and Alignment in Yoga
Now, this time, I’m going to do the full sequence. Inhale, with your arms up overhead and a strong lift in your chest. Exhale, with a micro-bend in the knees. Fold forward at the hips, bring your hands to the mat. Inhale, with a strong lift of your chest, gaze forward. Bring your palms down and push down, looking down. Right foot jumps back. Shift your weight forward, rounding your spine, and keeping that straight. Keep the elbows right by your side. Lower down, slowly. Tuck your toes down. Lift up, with strong arms, pushing down on all five fingertips.
Always think about the anchor points, foundation, and alignment, the three pillars of first element. Then, the second three pillars of the second element, which are polarity, breath, and balance. Pushing back into downward dog, I want you to make sure that you’re pushing the floor away. This way you’re activating the shoulder girdle, making sure the back side of the neck stays nice and long. Keep a micro-bend in the knee. With the tailbone straight up, you’re making a triangle with your body.
If you’re making a concave curve with your spine, you’re doing it all wrong. I see so many patients creating cervical radiculopathy, having parathesia, like numbness and tingling, and causing a lot of micro-tears over time. I used to be one of them. Hyper-mobility was my issue. Many of you are tight, and the reason your bodies are tight is because they’re being protective. So, I want you to gently lengthen and gain flexibility. You can’t force it. If you force it, you’ll create micro-tears in the body. This goes against why we do what we do.
Creating Polarity and Balance
Gaze forward, bringing your right foot forward, and then your left foot forward. Inhale, lift up your chest strong, and face forward. Exhale and fold. Inhale, gaze up, and bring your hands to heart center. Sweep your arms up, sink your hips, tuck your tailbone, and look down. Knees stay behind your toes. Keep your upper body back, tucking your tailbone slightly. Really get your base of support, which is your two feet, in alignment with the knees. Knees stay behind the toes, with the spine nice and straight.
Tuck your tailbone, creating that polarity from the tailbone to the crown of your head. It goes from the tips of your finger, rooting down to your hips. From there, it goes all the way down to the bent knees ,rooting down through all four corners of your feet. That’s your anchor points, alignment and core activation. Draw the navel to the spine. Those are the three pillars of the first element of the Alkaline Method. Then, the first pillar of the second element, the conscious mind, is polarity. The second is finding your breath. Finally, the third pillar is about the balance between left and right.
Exhale forward, lift your chest, and gaze forward. The whole work is not in how far I can go, but in how I am activating all of my joints. Using all my joints, nice and slow, elbows graze down. Push down to lift up, not hyperextend. Be conscious of the base of support, alignment, core activation, polarity, breath, and balance. Next, lift your right leg straight up. Bend your knee into your chest, and hinge forward onto your hands.
Find Your Anchors, Keep Alignment, and Breathe
Step your right foot forward, exactly between your hands. Turn your back heel in, grounding through the right foot. Give a strong lift of your chest, into Warrior 1. Your anchor points are both feet, and with your knee bent, that’s the alignment. Activate your core, bringing your naval to the spine. You’re creating polarity from the navel to the hands in the crown of your head. Navel to right and left foot, exhale, and fold.
Keep the palms on either side of the right foot. Right foot goes back, then shift your weight forward. Keep a strong bend of the elbows, grazing your ribs, and push down to lift up. Find your core and all of the pillars of the Alkaline Method. Tuck your toes, lift your hips, and find downward dog. Breathe, pushing the floor away.
Now, lift your left leg up, gaze forward, and bend your left knee. Shift your weight forward onto your hands. Place your left foot between your hands, turn in your back heel, and ground down through the left foot. Find your anchor points and lift your arms up. Keep alignment of the knees over your ankles. Knees do not pass your toes. Bring your navel to the spine, bringing in the core activation pillar of the second element of the Alkaline Method. Find polarity, from the naval to the crown of the head and fingertips. Bring in breath. Then, of course, balance.
Yoga is Not a Competition
Exhale, placing your palms down. Root through the left hip, not collapsing down, but really feeling into the muscles. Keep your palms flat, staying high on the right foot. Place your left foot back, shift your weight forward, and round your spine. Lower down, slowly, breaking your body from falling. Push down to lift up, tuck your toes, lift your hips, and find downward dog and push.
I have the ability to go sink my spine down, creating a concavity with my spine. This was my downward dog before. Now, I’m rounding my spine, pulling 10% out of the pose. You must understand that it’s not always the smartest thing, to go to the full expression of the pose. What’s really important is the space in the messy middle in between. All of the connections that you make are a lot harder than going through the motions and collapsing through each of the poses.
That’s what I really wanted to emphasize for you guys. Move slow. It’s not a competitive sport; this is body mastery. I cannot tell you how many patients I’ve treated that really benefit from the practice of yoga, because it finally allows them to come home. Healing is an inside job. You all didn’t come into the world with a clear-cut manual, by which you would know how this miraculous body of yours work.
Finding Self Love, Regard, and Respect Through Yoga
All I know is, once you all decide to occupy your own body, healing is inevitable. We start to establish homeostasis, utilizing the Alkaline Method. The three pillars of the first element, the subconscious mind, are the foundation, alignment, and core. Then, we have the three pillars of the conscious mind, the second element, which are polarity, breath, and balance. Polarity is about the push and pull in your both. Breath is about being present in the moment. Finally, balance is physically about symmetry, but emotionally it’s about setting boundaries.
We want to find self love, regard, and respect, moving away from self betrayal. That’s how you find yoga. Remember, the third element of the Alkaline Method is the functional medicine piece of the puzzle, with its own three pillars under it. Then, the last element is timeless wisdom. That’s where the practice comes in, as well as energy medicine and meditation. We define yoga as Your Opportunity for Growth and Abundance.
This completes the full circle. So, not only can you find a clarity and a vision for where you’re going, but you have the drive to constantly evolve and grow. That’s the circle of life, and it always comes back to yourself. I hope this was helpful to you. If it was, please subscribe to our Functional Yoga Medicine podcast and my YouTube channel. Make sure to join my private Facebook group, the Functional Yoga Medicine, as well. Moving forward, I’m going to be covering all of the elements and pillars, breaking them down to clarify our unique methodology, the Alkaline Method. I’ll see you all next week, thank you.