As a yoga practitioner and teacher who has dedicated herself to understanding the human body in order to heal, aid and replenish my own physical ailments, I am a strong proponent of learning your limitations. So my proposal is even if anatomy is not a top interest, find a way to make part of your practice.
The notion that yoga is just the distinct physical posture has the ability to set up for situations that allow for long term damage in our anatomical structure. If we aren’t aware of how our body works, how can we truly educate and utilize it in an intelligent way?
So, I propose we take the visual aspects out of our practice for a moment and tap into the mindfulness that yoga touts. Lets take the hips as an example, we learn in yoga that in order to get into most postures, open hips not only helps but is almost a requirement. So as a practitioner who is always looking for that feel good release, is it possible that you might be doing more harm than good? Absolutely. Looking at the hip structure and we’ll talk very basically here, the hips have a huge range of motion. The humeral head sits inside the pelvic bone creating a ball and socket joint. This isn’t just bone against bone there are many internal structures holding the humeral head in the pelvis, one of which are ligaments. Ligaments are not elastic, that means that once they are stretched they do not stretch back. So what does this mean for us, should we not be doing as many hip openers? Should I quit yoga? No, but utilize yoga as a way to work with your structure not against. If we know we already have flexible hips or even if you are working toward opening up hips it is important to conjunctively stabilize the hips. That means making sure you are staying, mindful and engaged. Trying to contract the muscles without creating tensions, finding that effort and effortlessness actually work quite well together.
So what are the implications for yoga teachers, for me it means being able to intelligently create classes that instill foundation. Take your time – Rely on your intelligence, not just your muscles to gain a deeper perspective into the physical posture of asanas and remember that the end result is just a step in progression and not the main point.