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So, having worked through Part II twice and Part III once, I have three of questions on how to proceed.

First, the seated legs apart poses are far and away my tightest, specifically through the glutes when trying to fold shoulder-to-thigh with a straight back, and along the sacrum as I go into spinal flexion between the thighs. I dread the ‘anti-tuck’, which is also preventing me sitting up straight in the seated piriformis stretch or in the tailor pose. It's so much tighter than everything else that I’m keen to make this my focus. But while there are seperate stretches with contractions for most of the muscles involved (upper hamstrings, piriformis, adductors), there’s seemingly only warm-up/limbering movements that get at these lines, and while those feel great, I'm not sure doing them alone, with no contractions, will lead to progress?

More fundamentally, when should one progress from an easier to a harder variation of the same stretch? I’m finding there are points where doing the harder version imperfectly seems to work the target muscle more powerfully, but at the cost of the form cues, such as how straight my back is or the position of my other leg. Is it better to move on and work on improving my form in the harder pose, or to stick with the easier pose until the other muscles involved are sufficiently limber to allow good form in the harder position (i.e. hip flexors catching up before moving on from the seated to advanced piriformis stretch)? Relatedly, how much overlap is there between the first, squat, component of the Mastery course and Part III of the Starter course? When will I know when I’d benefit from moving on?

Finally, the Tailor pose is doing wonders for me externally rotating the hip, but abducting the hip via the squashed frog (related to the first paragraph) is very tight for me, and not really progressing. In the video Olivia mentions that there are many more nuances to frog pose though, might you be able to point me toward somewhere these nuances are discussed?

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On 4/30/2024 at 11:48 PM, hainew said:

But while there are seperate stretches with contractions for most of the muscles involved (upper hamstrings, piriformis, adductors), there’s seemingly only warm-up/limbering movements that get at these lines, and while those feel great, I'm not sure doing them alone, with no contractions, will lead to progress?

They will, but will take time, too. You have only worked through part III once, as you write above. You will need to work though whatever seems effective from part II, as well, many times before these patterns are embodied. It took me five years of practise before I could do the tailor pose, for example. The methods you are being exposed to now, though, are much more efficient that what I did, and struggling with all these poses is what created the method you are now using. 

Saying this, though, is not meant to put you off. You are a lot further down the road that you think, most likely. And definitely have a look on this page (I was trying to find a video that shows a legs-apart version of the Elephant Walk, to which adding contractions that will directly get in to your tightest lines, but recall now that's part of the Mastery Course):

https://www.youtube.com/@KitLaughlin/search?query=standing legs apart

But I'll describe it here for you. If you review all the instructions for the elephant walk, from our YouTube channel, but instead stand with your legs at least two shoulder widths or more apart and make sure your knees are bent sufficiently, then you will be able to move your spine and trunk between your legs and over each leg and stretch all of the muscles that are stopping you from doing that position on the ground. Then, just as in the elephant walk, you can hold each ankle in turn while keeping the knees bent and the back of straight as you can and very gently try to pull your body away from that leg using the muscles that are limiting you. In this way, gravity works for you instead of against you and it will be much easier to keep your back straight.

On 4/30/2024 at 11:48 PM, hainew said:

More fundamentally, when should one progress from an easier to a harder variation of the same stretch?

When you can do the easier one properly, but keep trying the harder version. Again, all these things take time, and please think of progress in terms of months and even years, rather than a number of weeks. Are you doing the daily relaxation practises? These are an essential part of the system too.

On 4/30/2024 at 11:48 PM, hainew said:

Relatedly, how much overlap is there between the first, squat, component of the Mastery course and Part III of the Starter course?

We have found that it's essential to master the squat components of the Mastery Course before going on to the other parts, simply because its many smaller poses target exactly what limits people from doing the far more difficult pike and pancake elements. There is some overlap between SC part III and the Mastery Course (how could there not be?). And in the meantime, try running through this follow-along class with Olivia, making sure you have a thick bolster to sit on:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co252bder2Y

And having done that, re-read what I wrote about the wide-leg version of the elephant walk: this is the same basic pattern of Olivia's sitting exercise, but inverted forward 90° so that the weight of your body is actively helping you. Try that first.

Finally, do please keep going, and do the relaxation practises. There are many more recordings on our site, too (see the relaxation wiki).

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Kit_L Thank you so much! This is really above and beyond, and a useful reminder to slow down and smell the roses. Having a plan, even if a long term one, is very useful for me.

I'll keep working the hardest version of a given pose I can do with reasonable form, be it from Part 2 or 3, but add the contractions you've outlined to the standing legs apart, and the hip movements Olivia outlines in that video to the seated versions. I'll keep testing harder versions, think about the Mastery course opnce I'm using the Part 3 versions for most things.

I am indeed doing the relaxation practises, but hadn't realised there were more recordings, I'll work through those too for sure.

Thanks again

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