Practice

The Yoga Deconstructed Method Shows You How to Build Poses, Step-by-Step

Trina Altman shares how she uses simple, playful exercises to break down complicated asanas into manageable components.

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When I was first practicing yoga in my early 20s, almost every pose came naturally to me. I could express almost any shape with little effort. The more I practiced, the better I felt… until I didn’t.

A few years after I completed my initial yoga teacher training, I was transitioning into the role of full-time yoga teacher and began to experience aches in my body. Sometimes the discomfort ran down into my forearms, hands, and wrists. Other times it centered more in my jaw, neck, upper back, and shoulders. The pain plagued me throughout the day, even when I wasn’t practicing yoga.

I initially tried healing modalities such as Rolfing (a method of manipulating muscles and fascia), acupuncture, and massage to find relief. But it wasn’t until I attended regular physical therapy appointments and studied kinesiology, exercise science, and other forms of movement outside of yoga that I got off the pain hamster wheel.

My healing began when my physical therapist diagnosed me as hypermobile, meaning I have a genetic predisposition toward laxity in my connective tissues, which creates instability in the joints. This hypermobility was exacerbated by doing so much stretching during yoga and not enough strengthening to compensate for it.

My physical therapy homework was to do more strengthening exercises and less yoga. It worked. Within months, I could once again do poses that I had previously avoided because of the pain.

As I felt better, I began to ask myself, “How do these poses affect my body? What daily life activities will they help me with?” My pursuit of answers led me to take hundreds of hours of additional teacher training and acquire multiple certifications. Eventually, I created the Yoga Deconstructed method—classes and workshops that help others understand how to apply modern movement science to yoga.

My approach literally deconstructs yoga by breaking down complicated movements into manageable components. I look at what is happening in the body, joint by joint, in each pose. The challenge as a teacher of movement is to make exercise simple and enjoyable—even for those who might not find it so easy. I take students through simple, purposeful, and playful exercises that improve strength, mobility, flexibility, stability, and coordination.

Though I developed Yoga Deconstructed for anyone transitioning out of rehabilitation and back into the studio, it is a method that can be adapted for any specific movement goal.

By blending yoga, corrective exercise, Pilates, and somatics, the Yoga Deconstructed method physically prepares students to do poses they previously believed they could not. It’s important to me that I challenge students’ preconceptions and help them cultivate a beginner’s mind so they can become alert and aware of what’s really possible.

More: See How Yoga Deconstructed Can Help You Access Expansion in Camel Pose

Is the Yoga Deconstructed method right for me?

While anyone can benefit from Yoga Deconstructed, it’s especially useful if you fall into one of these categories:

  • You have completed physical therapy after an injury but are not ready to return to a traditional yoga class.
  • You have experienced pain or injury when practicing yoga.
  • You need more strength, mobility, or control to hold most yoga poses.
  • You have been encouraged by a medical professional to try yoga to reduce stress or pain.
  • You are naturally flexible and need more stability to support your joints in some positions.
  • You are an experienced student preparing for challenging poses, such as the splits or arm balances.
  • You are a yoga teacher who wants to be able to better meet the needs of all of your students.

More from Trina Altman: Boat Pose Made Easy