Part of developing our own training method meant coming up with a language to describe what, exactly, we’re asking students to do during workouts. The glossary of TPM terms below are some of our go-to cues. You’ll hear them time and again in class, alongside common yoga asana descriptions you might already be acquainted with.
By no means do you need to memorize this list before you hit your mat for the first time. But it’ll be helpful to familiarize yourself with the terminology we use regularly. The first six below, in particular, are ones you’ll hear in almost every class. They’ll also appear on the class timelines that accompany all the videos in our studio library. So, bookmark this page and come back to it as often as you need for a refresher.
The 6 most common terms you’ll hear in a TPM class
Chain expansion: generating tension through expansion to create both stability and movement efficiency by distributing weight (or load) throughout the whole body. Think about a shower curtain tension rod. Its ability to reach in both directions is what makes it strong enough to hold up a shower curtain.
Release rigid/Downtrain: decreasing muscle tone through mind and body connection. This restores freedom and mobility through joints as we restore muscular balance. We do this to facilitate deeper, even breath, and help down-regulate and restore balance in our nervous system. Examples include using a release ball or foam roller to send a signal from muscle to brain to relax. Same goes for holding a stretch with mindful awareness around that body part.
Support floppy/Uptrain: increasing the activation, tone, or recruitment of a muscle. By uptraining stabilizers (the muscles that support the main movers), we can free up mobilizers (i.e. main mover muscles) to do their primary job. Doing this improves skeletal support/stability and myofascial support. An example would be performing a set of abs exercises to stabilize through the trunk before standing poses.
Mindful realignment: performing practices that tap into the internal state of the body (interoception). This is your ability to pay attention to patterns, habits, stories that occur in our mind and body. These can be visual or verbal cues, as well as physical adjustments during in-person classes.
Control of joint through range: attaining neuromuscular control of your muscles’ full, active range of motion. This reflects a balance of stability and mobility for joint health and optimal performance. An example would be controlled hip extension while being able to keep femur centered in socket and pelvis neutral.
Flow/Retrain functional movement: creating new movement patterns using chain expansion, downtrain/release, uptrain/support, mindful realignment, and control joint through range. We use this to increase performance, efficiency; and this could look like yoga asana to retrain handstand, running stride to be more efficient, or working with someone who may need to relearn how to walk after surgery or injury to a knee or ankle.
12 other TPM terms you’ll hear a lot
Tripod foot or hand: the three points of contact our hands or feet should have with the ground (or wall) for optimal load transfer and alignment up the chain.
Starfish hand: the most-efficient position to activate all three arches of the hand in order to create a stable, but mobile, base of support—picture palming a basketball.
360 breath: breathing simultaneously into the entire rib cage—front, back, and sides—equally.
Closed kinetic chain: movements that are performed when the hand or foot is fixed against a surface.
Open kinetic chain: movements that are performed when the hand or foot are freely moving, not attached to wall or floor.
Local muscles: muscles that are close to the joint, usually cross over only one joint, have shorter lines of pull, and control the joint motion.
Global muscles: create and control movement, have long lines of pull, and cross over more than one joint.
Neutral: An optimal starting point for our joints. It is a resting place and the middle ground where we find safe joint congruency. This means the joint is resting in a position where the joint surfaces are optimally meeting and is the position that sets us up for the least amount of stress on our stabilizers and position for firing of our surrounding musculature.
Centralized: The ball of a ball-in-socket joint sitting centrally in it’s socket. This position helps remove any excessive stress on the ligaments and improves our ability to receive clear proprioceptive information. Centralization also is a starting point for optimal muscle firing, allowing our stabilizers to stabilize and mobilizers to mobilize.
Stacking: positioning your body so head is over ribs, ribs are over pelvis, and pelvis is over feet, which taps into the inherent stability of our joints and skeleton, requiring less muscular work to hold us upright, and more structural efficiency.
Helium balloon lift: a postural cue that requires you to imagine there is a string of a balloon attached to the top, back of your rib cage. The string passes through the back of your skull, through your head, and exists your forehead. The balloon lifts your front and back lines equally to create expansion in your body vertically.
Core Canister: the part of your body between the rib cage and pelvic floor.
Eggs in armpits: a term used to describe the movement of the shoulder and arm bone separately from the shoulder blade and ribs. For example, in a side plank, imagining that you’re holding a raw egg in your armpit. This helps you differentiate and lift the body off the arm, giving space to the shoulder joint to do its best work to move efficiently and transfer load.
Air Hockey Pucks: an analogy to describe how the shoulder blade interacts with the trunk (or thorax). “Imagine that your shoulder blade is an air hockey puck floating on a thin layer of air above the air hockey table of your thorax (trunk). Keep that floating sensation as you allow your shoulder blades to move when we raise our arms overhead or out to the side or when we bind.