Yoga Pose Focus: Warrior 2

yoga focus on warrior 2
Warrior 2. Each person will look a little bit different in each yoga pose we practice. Notice how each of these individuals have different alignment. This alignment reflects each persons unique biomechanical structure. Interestingly you can see that each person from right to left have different amounts of opening in their hip sockets. The individual on the right has the ability to comfortable approach nearly side facing hips. The individual on the left has hips that want to be more forward facing. Matthew’s (middle) hips are somewhere in between.

Yoga Focus on Warrior 2

Welcome to a Yoga Focus on Warrior 2. In this blog post you will find some tips for this posture. Warrior 2 can be a bit tricky for some folks, particularly in the hip area. One thing that can really help is getting to know your own personal biomechanical structure. It’s beneficial to look at the way our hips have developed over our lifetime because it allows you to start to see YOUR Warrior 2. Let’s make this pose work for your unique body, rather than have your unique body try to move into a shape that you have some pre-conceived idea of.

Where will I often encounter Warrior 2?

You are likely to encounter this Pokémon while wandering in tall grass, it is weak to…. wait… wrong blog post…😏 You are likely to encounter this POSE alongside lots of Vinyasa Flow Yoga classes, Hatha Yoga classes, and even Chair Yoga classes. Warrior 2 (see image above) is often prefaced by Warrior 1 and followed by Bent Leg Triangle (see the image below) since these poses transition quite easily into one another.

yoga focus on warrior 2
Bent Leg Triangle. This is a pose that can be sequenced directly after Warrior 2, allowing for a longer challenge for your from leg during the lunge, as well as some additional engagement required in the core area of the body. The leg and hip positioning stays nearly identical to that of our Warrior 2 posture.
Use That Front Legs Hammy!

In Warrior 2 or Bent Leg Triangle we can find great benefit in pressing down and pulling slightly back using our front leg. This is going to activate the hamstring muscle, helping to strengthen your mental connection to that area but also the muscle itself.

Now Get your Back Leg involved!

Because we want to evenly distribute our efforts in this posture, we also are going to want to engage our back leg in a more dynamic way. One way of doing this is to try pressing down with your back legs heel while simultaneously pulling slightly forwards with the front pad/toes of that same foot. It almost feels like corkscrewing the back foot/leg into the ground.

Try It Right Now!
  1. Stand at the top of your yoga mat. Mountain Pose.
  2. Step back with your right foot, then allow that foot to wiggle back a bit further to elongate your stance.
  3. Lunge into the left leg until your knee is roughly overtop of your left heel. If this isn’t possible, allow some variance in your lunging depth!
  4. Reach your arms apart, the right one reaches back and the left one reaches forward.
  5. Now try some variation in the positioning of your back foot. Try turning the toes slightly forward instead of pointing them sideways. Try allowing your right hip to move a bit more forward as well. (this will end up looking similar to the individual pictured on the top most image on the left) Does this allow for more controlled opening in your hips? does it create less tension in your front knee? These might be amazing changes for your Warrior 2!
  6. When you’ve arrived at your most natural expression of this posture, stay in it for 10 breaths.
  7. We will move on to Bent Leg Triangle next.
  8. While staying in the same leg and hip position, move your left arm down so that your forearm connects to your left inner thigh. (2nd image in the article). As you do this lean your torso slightly forward to match the angle of your back leg.
  9. Press your inner thigh into the back of your forearm to create some core/groin activation.
  10. Breathe here for 10 cycles of breath.
  11. Move back into Warrior 2 with your upper body.
  12. Lower your hands onto your hips.
  13. Heel/toe your right foot closer to the front of your yoga mat.
  14. Step forwards into a standing position. Mountain Pose.
MORE FROM MATTHEW CARTER

Thanks for tuning in for this Yoga Focus on Warrior 2, hopefully you find it helpful during your future classes. If you would like to know more about Matthew Carter’s yoga offerings visit the links below:

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Any questions or feedback?

Yoga Pose Focus: Upward Facing Dog

Yoga Focus on Upward Facing Dog
Upward Dog. This view helps to see the lifting action required in the upper body. Note how the shoulders are not compressed together but rather you can see the lift happening up and out of the shoulder area.

Yoga Focus on Upward Facing Dog

Welcome to a Yoga Focus on Upward Facing Dog. This is a fairly challenging pose that is often contained in our Vinyasa Flow or “power yoga” classes. Ohhhhh yoga class names, they crack me up sometimes! The main focus of this article is to help people discover a more stable Upward Facing Dog. This is because we all deserve to understand more about our bodies!

Where will I often find Upward dog?

Upward Facing Dog often comes after we move from a High Plank position to a Low Plank position, which is similar to the lowering down portion of a push-up. After arriving in this low push up position we need to flip our feet over so that we are now on the tops of our feet, then press down into the ground and lift our upper body all the way up, similar to the position you see in the photograph above.

Yoga Focus
Downward Dog. Matthew could probably bend his knees a little in this pose to help the slight rounding of his lower back. By bending his knees he would be able to lengthen a bit more out of his lower back area, which might put less compression on those parts of his spine. *Note that the heels do NOT need to reach the ground in Downdog*
Use those shoulder muscles (gooooo seratus anterior!)

When we lift up like this we want to really press those hands down and lift up out of the shoulder area. A lot of the time, individuals do not really lift up and out of their shoulders, which can create a lot of compression in that area of the body. Because of this compression some people may find this pose uncomfortable on their shoulders.

Next time you try Upward Facing Dog try deeply connecting to the ground with each finger and thumb, corkscrewing the hands down into the ground almost as if you were opening and closing jars with your hands.

Try it right now!
  1. Move your body into Downward Facing Dog. Do this by starting in a high plank (high pushup) position, then lift your hips up into the air.
  2. Press down with your palms. Lengthen through the mid upper spine into the shoulders. Allow your knees to bend if you feel like your lower back is rounding a lot.
  3. Now as you Inhale move forwards into high plank again. Have your heels roughly above your toes, and your shoulders roughly above your palms. This is usually a great starting position for moving down into low plank.
  4. As you Exhale lower your body down into low plank position by bending your elbows. As you do this press back slightly with your heels, as if pressing into a small button. This will help keep strength in your lower body, and help to engage the leg/core connection. This really helps folks who feel that this movement is too challenging on their upper body.
  5. After arriving in low plank flip each foot one at a time so that you’re now on the shoelace side edge of your feet, the tops. You will be here on the tops of your feet in low plank for only a second.
  6. Now PRESS UP with your arms and upper body so that you lift all the way out of your shoulders. Try not to allow the shoulder blades (scapula) compress upward to the ears/neck. Instead press down so that you can feel your shoulder blades slide down the back of your body and slightly together. Your chest will be lifted, and your gaze can go forwards or up to the ceiling. Corkscrew your hands down into the ground.
  7. Now begin to lift your hips back up towards the ceiling, flipping your feet back over one at a time, so that you’re now on the front pads of your feet. Your should now be back in Downward Facing Dog, where we started.
More from Matthew Carter

Thanks for tuning in for this Yoga Focus on Upward Facing Dog, hopefully you find it helpful during your future sessions. If you would like to know more about Matthew Carter’s yoga offerings visit the links below:

man practicing meditation on sports mat

Atmospheric Om

Om is the sound of a sacred spiritual symbol. The meanings of Om vary from tradition to tradition and it is often chanted before or during meditation practice. In this track Matthew Carter chants Om alongside his guitar and various other instruments to create an atmospheric sound.

Atmospheric Om by Matthew Carter

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

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Finding Safety – Four New Songs by Matthew Carter

Listen to four new tracks from singer-songwriter Matthew Carter. Aided by his guitar, some keys and the power of his lyrics Matthew paints a story for you in each song. Please share!

Springtime Raining by Matthew Carter
Detached Love by Matthew Carter
Finding Safety by Matthew Carter
Wandering in Wonder by Matthew Carter

MUSIC TAKES TIME AND EFFORT TO CREATE, PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING TO MATTHEW Below:

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Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

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road construction

The Left Place – Matthew Carter Music

The Left Place by Matthew Carter

For The Left Place I created a drum kit by sampling all the available kick drum, hi-hat and clap sounds within Ableton. I wanted a kick drum sound that wasn’t too noticeably toned, because some electronic kick drum samples really end up sounding like a low bass note or something (which is exactly what a real kick drum sound is, but we don’t take the time to tune our kick drums to the key of the song we are playing before playing it… although I’m sure they would do this in most high levels of music production.. Since all drums have a tone to them, After finally deciding which ones to use I moved onto tracking down some audio clips. I was looking for blips, clicks, and shwoops to add to other channels of my 16 button drum pad.

Now onto the bass, I love the Theremin sound that Ableton comes with, and I use it quite often during electron music creation to make those cool sounding video-gamey style lead riffs. This time I had something different in mind for my favorite sound, to use the Theremin as a bass. I like the sound I eventually got with it, but at times it gets a bit strange sounding. But strange is good, right? I then added more to the track by creating additional synth sounds that swell in the background on the on 2 and 4 during certain sections. Then I created some more melodic sounds like the flute playing on the off beats, the spacey sounding keys in the background, and the guitar style plucks near the ending.

I noticed the track needed a bit more stuff in it so I added that really interesting watery sounding slide that comes back a few times during the track. This just adds a bit of additional colour and feeling to the track.

Enjoy!

– Matthew Carter

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Any questions or feedback?

photo of man diving in to water

The Lifestyle Dilemma

The dream

Do you ever dream about diving deeply into spiritual practice? Dream about making something a regular part of your daily routine? Perhaps you try it out consistently for an entire month, or maybe even longer than that. Waking up in the morning and practicing seated meditation. Journaling with consistency every night before bed. Getting to the yoga mat to practice asana everyday. Taking cold showers for some reason… thanks Wim Hof.

Then all of a sudden, the routine ends and you drift back into the regularity of your life. What happened here? Was the practice of showing up daily too much? Did you burn yourself out somehow? This lifestyle dilemma exists for me too.

The Lifestyle Dilemma

The Ruse

I think this idea of a routine being the answer is something the health and wellness industry is trying to sell you. A ruse to get into your pocketbook. This is something that is so heavily sold by the yoga industry and often believed in by the teachers and students with steadfast determination.

Life requires balance. One specific thing is never the answer to all of life’s mysteries. Yoga can’t solve all your problems although it can be a pretty good distraction from them.

Yoga can’t fix you, but it sure can be a great window into yourself. This was so important for me to learn, and it helped me start to take control of my self care journey, instead of thinking that my yoga practice would be everything I needed.

The Numbers

One problem that I see in the yoga industry is the price of the average monthly studio membership. They are so expensive, often upwards of $100.00 monthly, which let’s be honest, not many of us can afford. I recently read an article suggesting that most Canadians cannot even afford their basic cost of living (source: here).

person picking fake monopoly money

It would seem that the majority of the health and wellness industry has become a place for the privileged. Think about it, those of us who cannot even afford to put food on our tables or pay our rent are probably quite stressed out. These people deserve an option for some sort of self care routine they can afford. Yoga should cost less.

The Outcome

I believe that the high cost of the average yoga membership, combined with the common desire amongst us to develop a daily spiritual practice of some sort, has created an high pressure atmosphere among us yoga practitioners. A lifestyle dilemma emerges and we feel we must achieve this daily practice in order to unlock the fullest potential of our healing journey, or just give up on it entirely.

Since our memberships have often cost us so much we might be left feeling a pressure to show up quite regularly, to make it “worth our money”. If a yoga pass was only $20-$40 per month it would be more accessible to those of us on a lower income. Perhaps this lower price would also lessen the pressure of getting so much out of your experience on the yoga mat. It would give those of us who can just barely afford those $100 yoga passes some breathing room and it would make the yoga practice accessible to a many more individuals. Some people can afford those higher prices, and for them a cheaper yoga pass would give them money to spend on other types of physical fitness they might be curious about. You could buy a new bike with that money you saved! Go rock climbing once a month! Explore!

man holding tree enjoying the view mountain

The Reality

I realize that some of us will continue to come to yoga mat everyday, and I want to say that’s totally fine. For some it’s actually exactly where they need to be for right now. But I know that some of us could use a new model. I know I needed it after teaching yoga in studios for over 7 years. I needed to not hear the narrative that “I can just leave it all on the mat” or that “yoga will fix me”. Those messages often left me feeling a bit disconnected from my own life and the realities I face. For me it is a welcome time to leave the lifestyle dilemma behind and just live my life.

Remember that you don’t have to practice yoga everyday to find a special connection with yourself, there are so many amazing ways you can forge a healthy relationship with your self care routine. In the same breath, for me yoga is still pretty awesome and I really love coming onto my yoga mat when I can.

What now?

Well for me, someone who teaches yoga and love yoga I still am going to show up on my yoga mat fairly regularly. But I won’t beat myself up when things don’t feel that great, or fluid during my yoga practice. I won’t beat myself up if I take a few weeks off of the yoga practice when life gets busy.

I just finished teaching a 30 day yoga challenge last January and during the challenge I encouraged my participants to find a yoga practice that was accessible to their lifestyle. The challenge wasn’t to actually do precisely 30 days of yoga in a row, but rather to normalize the fact that it’s okay if we all have different practice goals. Once a week is a huge accomplishment for some of us, and those accomplishments also deserve a space to be celebrated!

Perhaps you too can ease the pressure on yourself to “do it all” everyday, and as this quote from Soto Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki suggests:

“Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.”

― Shunryu Suzuki

Thanks for taking the time to read my musings. Have a lovely and balanced day.

See you soon on the yoga mat, or out on a hike!

-Matthew Carter


The Yoga Pass

My memberships are a suggested cost of $40.00 per month, but I also offer a “pay what you can” membership. Some of my students pay much less, because that is what they can afford and I am more than happy to open my digital doors to them!

group of people in a concert

170BPM Drum & Bass – Matthew Carter Music

Working on my drum and bass.

170 bpm Drum and Bass

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Any questions or feedback?

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First Contact by Matthew Carter Music

First Contact by Matthew Carter

First contact with Native Instrument’s Kontakt pack of free instruments. I am really enjoying playing around with all these new sounds. Want to know the best part?!? They were all free!!!

-Matthew Carter

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Any questions or feedback?

cropland duiring night time

Mt. Coronet by Matthew Carter Music

Mt. Coronet by Matthew Carter Music

Climbing Mt. Coronet might prove challenging, but keep your best friends with you and nothing will stop you!

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Any questions or feedback?