As most of us working in the field of yoga anatomy are aware, memorising muscle attachments is not a particularly useful exercise in and of itself. For one thing, muscles as single entities kind of don’t exist anymore. Owing enormous thanks to the ground-breaking work of manual therapists in the last few decades, we are now starting to fully embrace the holistic model of fascial continuities as the great attenuators of force in the body and to feel the impact…
Yoga is a state of being in which we experience ourselves as whole and present. To train ourselves in the state of yoga, we include the practice of physical movements for we are physical beings. We experience and express ourselves through a physical body, therefore, every so called spiritual practice must include the body in one way or another to be truly wholesome.
These are my modest and provisional notes on the subject of hypermobility, the issues of flexibility in yoga, being able to sustain a yoga practice and specifically practicing Yin yoga.
When I first taught yoga in 2001, I did not know what hypermobility or being too flexible meant. I remember Richard Freeman saying in June 2005, “the curse of flexibility and the blessing of stiffness”. I didn’t get it at the time.
Many yoga practitioners instinctually know to engage their inner thigh muscles (adductors) in backbends to prevent their knees from falling out to the sides. Let’s examine how we can utilise this action to ignite our core, expand our backward arch and experience simultaneously more stability and spaciousness in backbends. The adductor muscles of the inner thigh are part of our axial core.
It began on the first Saturday of August. A busy day with many commitments. In the afternoon I was feeling a bit unwell – nothing too serious. I mused to myself that perhaps it was too much cake and too many cappuccinos. The Sunday was also full. In a morning training session, I remember saying “I am feeling pretty ropey”. In the afternoon, there was a workshop that I was leading.
Much could be written about the psychological significance of rolling out your mat, with its implications of marking out your territory, creating your own space and perhaps saying something about your personality by the size and thickness of your mat. We will leave this for another article and focus on the anatomical error of mat-dependence.
There are countless miracles happening in our physical bodies every moment of our existence. One that continues to intrigue me is the symphony of cranial motion that happens with our every breath! This motion is synchronised with another gentle movement at our sacrum as it rocks between the two pelvic halves or ilia.
When we decide to move our body, in asana practice or in daily life, we most often instantly begin with activating our muscles. We identify movement with activating various muscles. The muscles are the physical system that we mostly rely on to carry out any physical task at hand. So is it in asana practice too. Unfortunately our muscular system is of relative efficiency in complex movement tasks such as asana practice.