Question 1: My goal is to be able to do scorpion pose someday but I have weak upper body strength which I'm working on. Are there any poses that will help me work up to scorpion? Thank you!
Answer 1: Besides strength in the arms and upper body, scorpion pose requires a lot of flexibility in the spine, a solid sense of balance, and a strong core. The above poses should be helpful (do the forearm stand against a wall if you're just starting out). Oh! And confidence - make sure you aren't doing any negative self talk- it sounds nuts but believe me, if you quiet that self doubt, your practice will grow so much.
Question 2: I love practicing inversions, especially headstand, forearm stand and shoulder stand. But sometimes when I am inverted, my pelvic muscles release and I take in air. So when I come out of the inversion, it makes a loud "fart-like" sound a.k.a. queef. This is so embarrassing! What can I do to control this? Sometimes I just opt to stay in child's pose during class to not risk the embarrassment. And why do I feel like this doesn't happen to the other women in class- is it just me? Please help!
Answer 2: I'm honestly surprised I haven't received this question sooner - you are definitely not the only one this is happening to! We spent a whole afternoon on this in yoga teacher training (not kidding!), so I can absolutely help you out. Here's the deal. You're exactly right, what's happening is that the pelvic floor isn't engaged, so the muscles are letting in air. The solution is to engage the mula bandha before you invert. There are three types of bandhas (bandha just means 'lock'), and the mula bandha is the space between the pelvic bone and tailbone. Think of it as locking and lifting. To do this: take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, contract the muscles and pull the perineum up towards the abdomen. Continue to breathe fully while engaging the mula bandha. TIP: Initially, since these aren't muscles you're used to contracting often, you might have to contract the anus and genitals to get the perineum to lift, but over time you'll be able to isolate the perineum. Feel free to let me know if this helps!
Question 3: My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's a year and a half ago. She needs to work on strength and balance and as she used to practice yoga (a long time ago), she thought of working some yoga poses into her daily routine. She's very nervous about this though as her balance is very off and her strength is definitely not what it used to be. Do you have any suggestions for some gentle, easy-to-do poses that work on strength and balance but that don't require a lot of strength and balance?
Answer 3: Hi! Yes, I have a few ideas. The most important thing is to be safe, so I like the idea of chair yoga (part 1 and part 2) for her, as the chair is a great prop to maintain balance. Seated and supine positions like those seen in this gentle yoga video sequence may work well for her, too. I also put together a few balancing poses (above) with her in mind as well, and I hope they'll be helpful.