Its that time of year again when David Keil visits Purple Valley in Goa and I get to babble anatomy with someone who really knows his stuff. David is author of the brilliant book Functional Anatomy of Yoga and teaches around the world. In this interview we talk about the emerging interest in fascia, injuries, Ashtanga Yoga and of course a lot more.
When I first started getting into yoga anatomy it was David Keil’s website and videos that I turned to so it is always top of my list to get the chance to sit down and chat with him. Ok so it’s going to be a bit geeky but David always explains things in such an accessible way, and the more you know about the way your body works the better!
I had the great pleasure recently to be invited to practice with David at the beautiful Purple Valley in Goa. Of course I took the opportunity to make another interview, which is in editing at the moment. In the meantime here is a little clip to help if your Nakrasana looks more like a slippery snake than a crocodile.
It seems as though I have seen hundreds of variations on how students raise their arms over their head to begin a sun salutation. Although it’s a seemingly simple act, it’s not really. I don’t want to get really nerdy and say how amazing the coordination is at the neuromuscular level, but that is the case. We take for granted that if we are not consciously choosing to create the neuromuscular patterns, the body just does whatever it needs to, to reach the intended goal. As many of you who are teachers have seen, the body isn’t always so good at choosing the best neuromuscular pattern for the long-term.
There is nothing that seems to cross all boundaries of yoga styles as clearly as sun salutations. Of course there are variations on the theme, but it seems that all styles do them. Sun Salutations put movement through all of the joints of the body and moves it in many directions. Perhaps we have a little difficulty in finding say, a twist, but many movements are represented.
The inspiration for this month’s article comes from a question posed in an email. The question, from Catherine, asks specifically about keeping the feet straight in drop-backs. For those of you not sure what a drop-back is… it’s when you stand at the front of your mat and drop into a backbend. It’s mostly the Ashtangis who do this and when they do it’s very typical to find people turning their feet out as they go back and/or as they come back up from the backbend.
I was in the DC area this month and saw a student that I knew from a previous workshop. At that time Patricia had recently “pulled a hamstring”. Her major symptom was pain at her sit bone (ischial tuberosity) when folding forward, secondary was that it would also hurt when sitting for long periods, especially in the car. I saw her just a couple of weeks ago and she still had the same pain.
The basic goal of all the asana practice is finding and maintaining a comfortable padmasana (lotus pose) for meditation. There are a few key anatomical components and principles to finding this comfort. The foundation of the pose is the crossing of the legs and “sit bones” comfortably on the floor. With a firm foundation we find an upward energy and lift in the spine, which eventually becomes effortless.