Downward Dog in Detail

                                  by Candice Mitchell & Lu Mueller-Kaul, illustration by Roman Jones


We’re working on a little e-book about basic yoga poses… so this post is a teaser.

When you’re in a yoga class next time, look around the room at all the different types of Downward Dog. You see dachshunds and great danes, and very often you see a strange crossbreed between Dog and Plank Pose.

Downward Dog is the most stereotypical yoga pose, but it’s very hard to learn for beginners. Ideal would be an instructor who gives some hands-on help with alignment.

In this picture you see what a good beginner’s pose could look like. In this case, a beginner with tight shoulders, but flexible calves. Try it out for yourself!     Continue reading

Core work: Leg Lifts–because pure strength doesn’t help back pain… endurance does!

Studies have shown that endurance training for the core and back has better results than strength training. So lower the weight on these core machines, do exercises more slowly, and be very careful with what you’re doing to your back.
Or just go the supersafe way and use exercises like the one in the video.

But if you really are in acute pain, even that might be too much. In that case, just do simple movements that are not exhausting at all. Just mobilize! Read Paul Ingraham’s manual on Mobilizing!

Hyper-Lordosis and Lower Back Pain



A lot of my clients with low back problems have some form of hyperlordosis. Lordosis is the normal, slight curve in the low back, so hyper-lordosis means there is too much curvature.

Look at the image here (borrowed from, who have some good thoughts on the topic).

But before I get any deeper into exploring the topic, a few words of warning: I’m saying a lot of people have hyperlordosis, and a lot of people have low back pain. I’m NOT saying that hyperlordosis automatically leads to low back pain. In my opinion, a fixed position of the lumbars and insufficient movement might cause problems in the lumbar spine, and these could cause pain. Low back pain is difficult to understand because there are so many different factors that contribute to the problem–the biggest factor is your brain.

If people have told you that your pelvis is tilted the wrong way, or one of your legs is a quarter inch too long, please read: “Your Back is Not Out and Your Leg Length is Fine”.  If you suffer from low back pain, buy this Ebook: “Save Yourself From Low Back Pain!”

(No, Paul Ingraham doesn’t pay me for promoting his work. I promote it because more people need to read it.)

Here’s what I know about hyperlordosis: Excessive curvature in the low back is often caused by short hipflexor muscles. They attach on the front of your lumbar (low back) spine and the front of the pelvis, and go to the front of the thigh. Sitting causes them to get shorter, since our bodies adapt to what we are doing. Short hipflexors, especially the psoas, pull on the front of the spine, causing it to bend too much (as explained in a short video). Add pressure from heavy lifting, or just the regular pounding of high-impact workouts, and the discs can start bulging out or even herniating. Continue reading

Easy Yoga Flow

Take a break from blogging and administrative work and do some yoga!
I’m demonstrating an easy flow through basic yoga poses under Candice’s instruction.
We’ve deliberately kept anything fancy out of this, so anybody who is able to get onto the floor and up without help can try it.
If you’ve never done yoga, better start with this video to learn a basic Sun Salutation.

Tight hamstrings?

Are your hamstrings are so short that you have trouble sitting with your legs stretched out?.

Short hamstrings make injuries more likely, and once you injure them, they get even tighter, due to scar tissue.

You say: “Yes, I know. And I am stretching them all the time, and it just doesn’t get any better.”

This post is for you. People think I’ve always been flexible, but really: It was in my 30s that I was finally able to touch my toes with straight knees. Even when I was a kid I couldn’t do it. Continue reading