Friday, 10 October 2014

Actions of Yoga: Week 1 Preview (Ankles, knees, hips)

Because I am cultivating actions in ankles, knees, and hips, I can take my hand away from the floor in this posture without a worry!  Can you?

Tomorrow we will be looking at basic movements around the ankles, knees, and hips and what cues we can apply to cultivate action around the joints.

Cultivating actions around the joints helps create stability.

When applied well, it helps blood flow and circulation through the body--the lower body in particular.

When applied well, your standing postures will feel lighter.

When applied well, you will experience a sensation of lifting rather than sinking.

When applied well, your spine will feel free.

Knowing how to apply these actions and, significantly, how to apply them 'well' will enhance your entire practice.

All too often I have seen people over stretching and/or over tensing, leading to a practice that looks heavy, is collapsing, and can, over time, lead to strain.

Take a look at the photo of me in parsvakonasana, above.  It is a pose where I commonly see people collapse into their hip joint in an effort to reach the floor.  Often, they switch off key muscles and try and sink deeper into their front hip so that hand can go down. One way I can tell when this collapse has occurred is by asking them to take their lower hand away from the floor (or thigh, if that is where it is).  I then watch the effort that is required for them to do so.

There should be no effort.  Whether hands are down or free floating, the legs should be working the same.  If you cannot lift your hand from the thigh or floor, or you suddenly feel things 'switching on', then, from my view, you were not really in the pose.  You had collapsed.

While I am in a posture that appears unmoving, I am 'doing' a lot.  I am 'doing' specific actions in my feet.  What I am 'doing' with my feet creates action in my knees and hips.

Of course, I have positioned my feet correctly in order 'to do' most effectively.  So we will be focusing on positioning as well.  But it is what happens after we position that is just as critical.

We will learn that position is not enough.  It is action once in position that will lead to a safer, more stable practice, and which can enhance the flow of energy effectively and efficiently for greater ease of movement.

Here, I have put 'doing' in inverted commas because it does not look like I am 'doing anything (except to a trained eye).  This is the 'hidden' yoga.  The more you practice, the more you realise it is the internal stuff that makes the most difference.

Through the weeks I also hope that I can help us find the balance between 'doing' and 'being' in practice.

If you want to avoid collapsing, avoid over stressing your joints, improve blood flow and mobility in a way that is safe and effective, then come along!

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