Michele explains how the 12 core poses of the FG system were chosen, and how they provide you with a powerful foundation for your practice
What makes the Fierce Grace Yoga Method different is that it is a system of interconnected yoga classes. Each class has a different emphasis and intensity, while all classes are connected and unified by a series of core poses or movements which recur to bring safe continuous progression.
This yoga method affects not just the body, but the mind and emotions, through different energetic movement patterns.
“The 12 FG classes are in fact only one perfect class that is 1.5 hours long. So I separated the 250 poses into 12 classes, and repeated key postures in every class to deliver fast progression, great results and safety no matter what class you attend. This format gives us what we want - variety and choice, every movement and mood the body and mind need, as well as continuity and repetition for fast safe results. I urge everyone to come to all the classes for maximum benefits.” - Michele Pernetta, Fierce Grace Founder
The 12 key poses are the poses that continuously support the body’s natural skeletal alignment, and work towards strength and flexibility of these areas. These poses act like a “skeleton” to all the classes, a support system of poses that help us create a powerful foundation on which the other more than 250 poses of the FG class system can be safely supported.
“Hanging a beautiful, heavy coat on a bent flimsy hanger will only cause the hanger to bend and eventually snap. That’s why one must create a solid and aligned foundation in the body, while building musculature and before attempting more advanced poses.” - Michele Pernetta, Fierce Grace Founder
How the 12 poses were chosen
Most yoga poses performed correctly and within our ability are beneficial. But as Westerners our lifestyles can cause particular issues if not counter-balanced. If we are to have a strong, flexible, aligned and responsive body, we need to develop and maintain:
• A strong flexible spine
• Flexible pelvis and hips
• Aligned, strong and flexible shoulders
• Strong quads
• Aligned ankles, knees and wrists
• Strong hands and feet
• Strong core muscles
• Equally strong back muscles
• Flexibility of hamstrings and glutes
• Upper body strength
As well as providing the foundations of a strong and healthy body, the core poses also neutralize the wear and tear of our daily lives. Sitting in chairs, cars, and computers; our sedentary behaviour; the compression of the front body; the weakening of the back body; shoulder and hip misalignment - these potentially degenerating habits need regular, even daily countering and neutralizing, which is exactly what the 12 core poses do.
Repeating them regularly is also key. Jumping from yoga to running to rock climbing to spinning in a week offers variety and interest but can mean progression can be slower and even injuries could potentially occur from the lack of continuity. Repetition is beneficial. It creates a strong foundation. Repeating similar movements provides a strong foundation, while the more than 250 poses and movements maintain variety and interest.
The 12 key poses
So what are the core poses? If you're a regular to our classes you may be able to guess some of them. Below is the full list and how each provides the foundational strength, flexibility and mobility needs of our bodies.
1. Spine Compass Series - (Half moon, Backbend, Hands to Feet.) - Helps develop a strong flexible spine that moves in every direction, strengthens the back and core muscles, opens chest. Slims waist. Lateral bending of the spine helps align and balance the spine. Improves flexibility of shoulders and elbows. Stretches the entire side of body from heel to wrist.
2. Chair/Utkatasana - Realigns the hips, knees and ankles while strengthening all the surrounding muscles of those joints as well as quads, glutei and all the back muscles. Tones arms.
3. Standing Separate Leg Stretching (Prasarita) - Stretches hamstrings, improves flexibility of the hips, strengthens the back and arm muscles. Tractions the neck and spine, oxygenates the head neck and face. Prasarita D opens shoulders, inner arms. Teaches pelvis and lower back alignment.
4. Floor Bow - Maintains flexibility of the entire spine. Massages discs. Brings circulation to abdominal area. Massages lower back. Opens chest and stretches abdomen. Strengthens glutei, quads, knees and ankles, while stretching whole upper front body. Traction for shoulders, elbows and wrists and strengthens hands.
5. Straight Leg Triangle - Stretches hamstrings. Improves hip flexibility. Strengthens legs, feet and ankles. Improves balance and tones waistline.
6. Warrior 2 - Same as above while developing quad and knee strength. Establishes correct spine alignment and core strength. Foundation pose for many other Warrior poses. Increases stamina. Delivers a sense of grounded power and elation.
7. Paschimottanasana (Stretching pose) - Improves pelvis alignment, hip flexibility, strengthens lower and upper back, arms and hands. Stretches hamstrings, calves and Achilles. Tractions for the spine. Tones abdomen. Strengthens legs and feet. Teaches safe forward bending alignment.
8. Plank - Strengthens the entire body including shoulders, arms, hands, upper back, abdominals. glutei, quads. Improves flexibility of feet and wrists. Improves stamina.
9. Down Dog - Upper body strengthening same as plank, re-establishes correct spinal alignment, improves flexibility of hips, Realigns hips, knees and feet. Stretches calves, hamstrings and Achilles. Increases circulation to head, face. Traction for spine.
10. Cobbler - Improves pelvis, opens hips. Flexibility of feet. Teachers lower spine and pelvis alignment. Calms the nerves, stretches inner thighs and hip adductors.
11. Tree Pose – Re-establishes correct skeletal postural alignment. Opens hips. Teaches balance and stillness. Strengthens standing leg, foot, ankle, knee and hip. Grounding. Tractions spine. Strengthens abdomen and encourages deep slow breathing.
12. Spine Twist - Improves flexibility of 100% of the spine, while re-establishing spinal alignment, releasing tension in spinal muscles and neck. Massages abdomen and relaxes nervous system. Tones core. Binding stretches deltoids.
Understanding how the 12 Core Poses work within the FG method
We believe that repetition of poses, plus a wide array of poses, brings the best of both worlds. Both the “yang” qualities (discipline, structure, strength, force, repetition) and the “yin” qualities (enjoyment, playfulness, flexibility, experimentation, variation and softer stretches) help us to expand all sides of ourselves for a sense of greater fulfillment and self knowledge. Habitual postural patterns are interrupted, dormant muscles are surprised and encouraged to fire up through the variety of poses in each class. Meanwhile the repetition ensures you can pop into any class, and have a safety net of foundation poses you will recognise.
The body was designed to move in every way possible, so the classes are designed to move us in every way possible too - fast or slow, in flow or with holds, with passivity and with power, using strength, stillness and speed. Circular and linear movements, deep stretches, both relaxed and with muscular tension, get into every muscle joint fibre and stretch fascia in every direction possible. This brings a healthy, strong, lithe body that moves fluidly.
Do we want to be a wild animal, ready for anything, able to respond with natural speed and agility, or a domestic animal, tamed, stiff and slowed by too much of the easy life?
LIVE LIFE WITH FIERCE GRACE
About the Author
Michele Pernetta is a Yoga Alliance Senior Teacher with 28 years' teaching experience. A Certified Ashtanga Vinyasa Teacher a former Bikram Senior teacher, a Black Belt Martial Artist, Michele brought Hot Yoga to the UK in 1994. Fierce Grace is Michele’s ground-breaking yoga system which can be found in studios around the world. It has been praised as the “Modern Evolution of Yoga” and “The Number 1 Way To Get Fit.”
Michele is the course leader of the Fierce Grace Teacher Training course. If this article has inspired you then find out more here about Yoga Teacher Training at FG including course dates.