As nearly all Yoga enthusiasts will agree, the practice of posture and breathing greatly helps to provoke the actualization of the essential aim of Yoga to quieten the mind. Understandably so, since a lack of health and fitness in the various systems of the human embodiment can be an energetic/caloric drain on the whole person.
A profoundly overlooked and understated sense that we possess, and one which plays a central role in our practice, as well as everyday life, is Vision.
The late great BKS Iyengar rightly described that the “eyes are the index of the mind”.
One of my most influential teachers, Richard Freeman, was a poet of the art of intriguing the student to apply a certain attitude to the eyes, as a magnet that will carry one’s attention into the body, and the universe of insight available therein. No one ever before, or since, have I heard extend this invitation, live or on digital audio, in the same infectious way.
Our vision is one of the most accurate,...
Being at the intersection between the upper and lower body, places the hip in its own category of importance. This joint not only permits the proper mechanics of the legs and upper body, but also allows the transmission of forces between one another.
Therefore, its functionality is integral both to the spine, as well as the knees and feet.
Common among the multitude of poses, yet so seldom are the anatomical details illuminated, as that of Vrikshasana-Tree Pose (Pic 1)
In a world where reinventing the proverbial “wheel” seems to be the the tool by which an individual can stand out and assert their own uniqueness, tinkering with the arthrokinematics of a joint for the sake of indulgence in something “different”, can bring more trouble than its worth.
This is where the placement of the lifted leg either supports the underlying structure of the hip, or not. The instruction that is all too prevalent when it comes to this leg, is to bring it onto the same plane as...
One of the absolute integral parts of the human body that has carried us all through the years, and which has gained much less recognition that they’ve deserved, are the feet.
There is much talk about “foundation” in the world of Yoga and exercise, yet the feet are not often found themselves to be the main protagonist of this narrative. This is of direct consequence to anyone who finds themselves inhabiting a body .
The truth is, as one of the most influential podiatrists (Dr William Rossi) in our history never tired of expressing, that the feet inform the mechanics of the rest of the body. He pioneered the long awaited revelation that the main culprit that his literally devastated our feet are shoes. “There is substantial and incontestable evidence that no commercial footwear fits properly...”
Picking up the review of Chaturanga Dandasana over the last several weeks in outlining the principles behind the next point:
3. The grip/contact of the hands on the mat
The grip of the hands is a major feature of the overall stability and safety of a pose, when the weight of the body is supported by them. The sheer anatomical complexity of the hands, their influence on the safety of the wrists, and the potential dexterity for which they’ve evolved, requires an investment of mental and physical effort in order to sustain their health.
The most frequent trespass against the proper technique in placing the hands is the shift of weight toward the outer edges of the hands and palms (pic 2). This will place the weight of the body into the medial (ulnar) side of the wrist, which is a fragile and very common site for injury. Without going into the complexity of the wrist, the ulno-carpal joint (pic 3) is susceptible to stress when forced to hold the kind of load that is consistent with...
As we look further into the complex universe of the shoulder joint and the role it plays in our Yoga practice, a posture whose eminence and frequency demands a clear overview is Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank). The amount of times I have had students give me notice that they can no longer perform this pose because of the strain they feel in their shoulder/s, exceeds my capacity to recount.
Like many other teachers, the technique that I initially learned to perform this pose with was very cursory and missed the anatomical integrity that it so badly deserves.
The most common and omissions I see over and over again are:
1. Alignment of shoulders with respect to the hands
2. The angle of the humerus (upper arm) with respect to the torso
3. The grip/contact of the hands on the mat
4. Position of the head
The all too pervasive instruction in this pose is to move the shoulders forward of the hands and maintain a vertical line of the forearms (pic 1). The danger with this technique is that it...