Yoga Sequences

Exploring Kaiut Yoga

A sequence exploring Kaiut Yoga, an alternative to the fitness influence in the yoga industry helping people reconnect with their body’s inner wisdom.

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Yoga can help us be deeply loving and accepting of our history, pain, and trauma, instead of ignoring or denying these experiences. I learned this while growing up in Brazil. My father was in the military, and one day when I was five years old, my cousin and I found his gun while playing in his car. We started toying with the weapon, and my cousin accidentally shot me in my left hip.

Francisco Kaiut Photo: Courtesy of Guilherme Pupo

The hip trauma impacted my entire body, and the few memories I have of my childhood are mostly related to pain. After the accident, I had uncomfortable sensations, particularly in my leg, back, neck, and shoulders. Sometimes I experienced spasms in my hamstrings and would have trouble walking upright. Or my back muscles would lock up when I played soccer, and I’d have to be carried off of the field by my friends. I was learning how something that happens in one part of the body can impact your entire system. 

When I was around 12 years old, I started to find relief through massage and chiropractic work. Then, at 15, I discovered yoga. One night my mom was watching the movie White Nights, starring ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. I found his solo mind-blowing and was captivated by how his skillful movements exuded a sense of freedom, a big contrast to the feeling of tightening up in chains I experienced inside my own body. The next day, while I was waiting for a bus, a bundle of yoga magazines at a newsstand caught my eye, and I bought them. Sensing yoga could help me with my challenges, I spent that night reading every single article. The following weekend, I saw an advertisement for a massage and yoga training hosted in my town, and I enrolled. 

I immersed myself in the teachings and practices. We practiced a form of hatha yoga, with an emphasis on pranayama and accessible asana. I was hooked, and two years later I opened my first yoga school.  Yoga remained a constant in my life, even when I went on to become a chiropractor. I would see patients all day, then teach class right after my last appointment. 

I see yoga mats as chiropractic tables. For me, every pose is a chiropractic stroke, a maneuver that reaches the deepest part of the joints and creates an impact throughout the entire body, including the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. 

From the beginning of my teaching journey, I was working with a complex group of students who had lots of ailments and injuries. I began to understand that what I was doing was unique, and over time, I created Kaiut Yoga to offer an alternative to the fitness influence in the yoga industry and help people reconnect with the body’s inner wisdom.

Sequencing

Methodology

Kaiut combines chiropractic methodology, biomechanics, and yogic wisdom. A Kaiut Yoga practice draws on three core themes—sustainability, prioritizing function over form, and inclusivity—and has three distinct phases: an opening, a focused practice, and a closing. Poses are held for several minutes at a time to help students practice mindfulness and attune to their bodies. These longer holds also help to create new neural pathways related to how pain and discomfort are perceived.  

When most people lose mobility in a joint, they experience diminished range of motion, or the extent of movement that a joint has. In turn, muscles have less tone and functionality due to their lack of use. Kaiut works directly from the joints, which creates a wave of benefits in the muscles. Gaining balanced mobility in the joints delivers more range of motion and healthier and more toned muscles that, backed by additional neurological connections, create an increasingly integrated and intelligent body and mind.  

Themes

1. Sustainability 

Changes and improvements in the classroom have to be sustainable so you don’t injure yourself or burn out. Instead of striving for an outward shape in a pose, explore what works for you to keep your body safe and functional in the long term. 

2. Function over Form 

Rather than fitting your body to a pose, find a position that fits your unique body. The form of an asana is specific to each individual and can only be understood when you combine factors such as your story,  accidents, traumas, biomechanics, genetics, dosha, body use, and age. To disregard all of these factors is to disrespect nature itself. Kaiut Yoga always places function above form so that every student can experience the benefits of a pose.

3. Inclusivity 

There are no levels in Kaiut Yoga, and the teachers adapt each class to be inclusive and beneficial for all. Anyone can benefit from the postures, as long as you understand that there are different ways to access a pose.

Class Structure

1. Opening

When you do yoga, you don’t want to operate in the same mode that you would be in when trying to meet a work deadline or driving in traffic. That’s why in Kaiut Yoga you start by moving your nervous system to a more relaxed, parasympathetic state, where you are in “rest and digest” mode. 

This shift is facilitated by using a pose such as Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose) or Sukhasana (Easy Pose) to ease into a calmer, more receptive state and become more present. Sometimes the teacher will play with other aspects of the experience, like directing you to notice the room’s temperature or the texture of the bolster against your skin. Focusing in this way helps you become more present in your body and move out of your thinking mind. 

2. Focused Practice with Variation Options

Kaiut Yoga teachers have more than 100 sequences to draw from and many ways to add variety within these practices. This multi-dimensionality is an important part of the work. Changing the stimuli (such as the order of and time spent in poses, equipment used, and teacher’s tone of voice) challenges your system to intelligently adapt and, over time, helps you to
age gracefully. 

A typical sequence zeros in on where you are rigid and lack freedom of movement. For example, the sequence on the following pages focuses on observing and working with the external rotation of your thigh bones in your hip sockets and on maintaining or increasing your capability to perform this action.
We explore this movement both with your spine on the floor and with you sitting in a chair. Placing your spine in different positions increases the variety of the movement and allows gravity to impact your system in different ways.

In Kaiut Yoga, the teacher will sometimes invite you to get up between poses and walk around. Doing so gives your brain a chance to integrate the new state your body is in, so you can start to draw on how this feels—physically and mentally—in regular life. 

3. Closing

Every class includes time to rest in Savasana (Corpse Pose) so that you can relax and receive the benefits of the practice. Then you move to a seated position and press your palms together at the center of your chest to close the class.

3 Tips for Beginners

  1. Consistency: Aim to practice three times per week to help your body and mind get familiar with the method.
  2. Build Self-Connection: Don’t overwork or underwork. Tuning in to your body and breath will teach you to discern the difference.
  3. Practice Kindness with Yourself: If the postures challenge you mentally, physically, or emotionally, offer yourself patience and self-compassion.
Man on back with legs up wall and arms behind head
Photo: Eleanor Williamson

 

1. Viparita Karani (legs-up-the-wall pose)

Support your head with a pillow or bolster. Place your hips away from the wall and allow the weight of your legs to drop into the back of your pelvis. Wrap your arms around the bolster and interlock your fingers under the bolster (or interlock your fingers on top of the bolster, under your head). You may feel a stretch across your shoulder girdle. Close your eyes. Spend 5–10 minutes here to establish the rhythm of your practice and allow your thoughts to slow down.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

2. Legs-Up-the-Wall POSE With Arm Extensions

Press your legs and ankle bones together to activate your legs. Elongate your arms, and place the bolster so that the back of your hands can rest on it with your elbows fully extended. If there is no stretching sensation in your shoulders, place one or both hands under the bolster. Open your palms, and spread your fingers. Hold for 5–10 minutes.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

3. Legs-Up-the-Wall POSE With Ankle and Foot Movements

Keep your heels touching the wall, and flex your right ankle. Hold for 1–2 minutes. Repeat on the other side. Then flex both ankles. Then join the bases of your inner big toes and increase the pressure between your inner legs by pressing them together. Hold for 1–2 minutes.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

4. Legs-Up-the-Wall POSE With Thigh Rotations 

Flex both ankles and release the pressure between your legs. Isolate an external thigh rotation in your right hip by moving the outside edge of your right foot toward the wall. Hold for 1–2 minutes. Release, and repeat on the other side. Now, externally rotate both thighbones. Hold for 1–2 minutes.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

5. Ardha Sukhasana (Half Easy Pose) at the Wall

Bring the bolster under your head. Place your heels on the wall about hip-width apart. Place the outside of your left ankle on your right thigh. Keep your pelvis grounded and your top foot relaxed. Gently turn your head to the right and close your eyes. Hold for 2 minutes. Return to center. Repeat on the other side.

Return to the start position. Take a short pause with your legs up the wall. Press away from the wall and roll to one side. Take a break on your side, and after a few moments, stand and take a walk.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

6. Ardha Sukhasana (Half Easy Pose) on a Chair

Find two stable chairs, and place them facing each other with a couple of feet between them. Sit down at the edge of one chair, and place your pillow or bolster on the floor under your feet. Move the outside of your right ankle to the seat of the second chair, and move the outside of your left foot toward the left side of
the bolster.

Drop your head and spine forward, supporting yourself with your hands on the second chair. Let gravity create a rounded spine. Hold for 2-4 minutes. Repeat on the other side. Note: You can also practice this pose seated on your yoga mat.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

7. Ardha Paschimottanasana (Half Seated Forward bend) on a Chair with Ankle and Thigh Movements

Place the bolster on the chair in front of you. Place your right heel on the bolster. Put the sole of your left foot on the floor in front of you. Sit on the front part of your chair and firmly flex your right ankle. Release your head and allow your spine to round. Externally rotate your right thigh to point your toes toward the right side of the room. Stay for 1 minute. Sit up tall. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

8. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) on a Chair with Ankle and Thigh Movements

Place both heels on the bolster while slightly pressing your legs and ankles together. Flex both feet and externally rotate your thigh bones from your hip joints. Allow your spine to round. Close your eyes and feel all the subtleties within the position. Hold for 6 minutes. Release the position. Stand and take a short walk.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

9. Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose) on the Floor with Arm Extensions

Sit on the floor. Cross your right leg in front of your left. Place your left shinbone parallel to the wall in front of you. Using your hands, bring the outside of your right ankle onto your left thigh near your knee. (Alternatively, you could place your right foot on a blanket or bolster out in front of your left knee, or sit in a chair and place your right ankle on your left thigh.)

Drop your torso forward. Place your hands on the floor and slide them away from your torso. Keep your head to a neutral position. Hold for 2–3 minutes. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

10. Supta Sukhasana (Reclining Easy Pose)

Lie on the floor with the bolster under your head. Bend your knees and place the bottoms of your feet on the floor. Cross your legs with your right leg in front of your left. Place your left ankle on the floor under your right knee and your right heel on the floor slightly in front of your left knee. Interlock your fingers under the bolster or your head and rest. Hold for 1–2 minutes. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

11. Supta Sukhasana (Reclining Easy Pose) With Arm Movements

Switch the cross of your legs. Release the interlock of your fingers. Place the back of your head on the floor. Place the bolster on your palms and extend your arms overhead. You can reduce pressure in your shoulder girdle by placing one or both hands on top of the bolster. Hold for 2 minutes. Switch the cross of your legs. Repeat on the other side.

Photo: Eleanor Williamson

12. Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Bring the pillow or bolster under your head, and release your arms to your
sides. Extend your legs on the floor slightly wider than your hips with your feet dropping to the sides. Close your eyes and feel the results of your practice. Hold for 5–20 minutes.