Feel your fas­cia

Yoga Journal - - Anatomy -

The ben­e­fits of think­ing of the body as a whole or­gan­ism, in­stead of in parts, are pro­found. When we truly com­pre­hend and feel this in our own bod­ies and see it in our stu­dents, we can move and teach with more in­tegrity. That said, as yoga be­comes phys­io­ther­a­pized, or made into a prac­tice re­sem­bling phys­i­cal ther­apy that helps peo­ple re­store move­ment and func­tion (a nec­es­sary and pos­i­tive process in gen­eral), asana are of­ten re­duced to which mus­cles are stretched—think “Down­ward Dog is good for your ham­strings.” In re­al­ity, while tight ham­strings may be a com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence, your edge in this pose may be deep in your calves or butt, or along the fronts of your shoul­ders. It de­pends on your pat­terns—the way you were grown and what you took on. Try this ex­er­cise to help you feel that your anatomy is more like a plant than a ma­chine, and to help you move away from sep­a­rat­ing your­self into parts: ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA Down­ward-Fac­ing Dog Pose Move into Down Dog. It is easy to feel your back body in this pose as you lift your hips, drop your heels from the mid­dle of your legs, and lengthen your spine. But take time to spread your aware­ness and at­ten­tion through­out your en­tire body in or­der to find points that lack aware­ness and are unique to your ex­pe­ri­ence of this pose. Here are some points to pon­der:

È Track the front of your spine in this pose, as if you were rolling a warm red ball up the front of your spine from your tail­bone, up the front of your sacrum and the lum­bar and tho­racic ver­te­brae, then be­hind your guts and heart.

È Re­lax your voice box, then your tongue, then your jaw. Let your head dan­gle. Let your­self be stupid for a mo­ment, then re-es­tab­lish the length in your cer­vi­cal spine with­out the ten­sion.

È Move your breath into the back of your ribs, which can be frozen in your early work in this pose. Can you feel the ribs mov­ing un­der your shoul­der blades? Are you mov­ing your lower ribs be­hind your kid­neys?

È Move your weight around your feet while in the pose. This can be sub­tle but pow­er­ful. If your heels are off the ground, move slowly, me­di­ally then lat­er­ally, on the balls of your feet. Feel how that changes the way you feel the rest of your body. If your heels are down, move slowly all around your feet like a clock: At what po­si­tion do you lock up? Work there.

È Be­cause the deep lat­eral ro­ta­tors are of­ten lim­it­ing in this pose, can you let the area be­tween your sits bones bloom? Try ro­tat­ing your knees in­ward in the pose to help find your lim­i­ta­tion, and keep work­ing your hips up­ward. Re­mem­ber, you are whole. Some­one may de­scribe you as a ma­chine, but that is not the sci­en­tific truth— whole­ness is.

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