from the searches…. "the reason of hand and leg bending"

“the reason of hand and leg bending”

For one,

the reason of hand and leg bending is muscles.

Nerve impulses sent to muscles

to contract and release,

ions releasing and traversing

allowing Z plates to rachet together,

release one another, to come together again.

But why the impulse? why the message?

Isn’t this always the question?

Perhaps it was a flower, or a baby,

perhaps a shock leading to collapse in tears,

legs bending, hand to face, shoulders sob.

or maybe it was longing, deep and elemental,

the one meditation and observation

hasn’t yet uprooted,

the one underlying some of the stickier joy in life.

Or maybe it was the jitterbug.

for dancing, hands and legs bend.

Or maybe it was for the pure, clear joy

of hand and leg bending just so they can release,

And bend again.

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So the Psoas…

I write a lot about the psoas because it’s been such an important structure for me to pay attention to in my own practice. I’ve struggled with hip pain for more than 20 years and trace it back to structural abnormalities (I was born bow-legged and pigeon toed and had surgery, casts and braces to correct it 40 years ago) as well as poor training as a young runner and weight lifter (teen age girls probably shouldn’t put 400 pounds on barbells for a lift, nor is it wise to run middle distance and marathon in the off season, just in case  you wondered about such things 🙂

Yoga has revolutionized my embodiment in so many ways, and one is to allow me to study how I use my illiopsoas. The psoas gets stretched in any backward bending, some more than others, and it gets worked whenever we bring knees toward chest. Tightness or injury in this muscle can mimic lots of other injuries and even create bizarre symptoms. True injury is debilitating for a time… I’ve learned you even use this muscle to get out of bed!

One of the most subtle stretches for the psoas is Warrior I – Virabhadrasana I. From mountain, step one foot back 2 to 3 feet. Your hips remain forward, so it helps to inner spiral the femurs and push into the feet to bring the hip of the back leg forward, and the hip of the front leg back. The femur of the back leg is naturally drawing the pelvis under and forward; resist this by engaging the abdominals to move the rib cage back in space and over the pelvis. Tuck your tailbone. 

Breathing in, raise the arms overhead by the ears or in “I give up” if your shoulders are tight.

Breathing out, bend your forward knee. Check in with the hips: if you had headlights on the front of each pelvic crest, would they both be pointing forward? Press into the feet, engage the inner & outer hip muscles, engage mula bandha and your core to find alignment, then relax, smile and shine!

Because of the psoas’ pull on the pelvis and low back, this is an outstanding preventative and sometimes help for low back pain. Try a backbend (bow, bridge or cobra perhaps?) before and one after and see if you can tell the difference in your openness and ability to radiate.  And radiate love, truth and beauty!

"laxative yoga stretch"

… this was a search that led to this blog. So I think that if someone is in need enough to type this in, they deserve an answer: forward folds in general will help move bowels and specifically child’s pose (balasana), wind relieving pose (on your back, pull your knees into your armpits) and happy baby pose. Hope this helps!

Yoga and Emergencies

Sometimes people have difficulty processing that I am both a Paramedic and a Yoga Teacher. To me, it’s the most natural thing in the world. The yoga actually allows me to be who I need to be on duty, and like anyone else, my life gives heft to my yoga practice.

In an emergency, you really don’t want the person who is wrapped up in it all with you, who is afraid of offending the power structure, who feels your pain. You want someone who knows what to do, when to do it, and remembers their authority comes with power and is calm enough to use it wisely while treating you with dignity.

What is an emergency anyway? I remember when I rented a lovely little house down in the valley from a wonderful woman who took care of the place herself and the sewer backed up. Not just backed up – two inches of sewer water on the lovely brick floor. When she came over to see what was to be done and I wasn’t screeching like a barn owl, she thanked me for remaining so calm, because so many people would react differently to an emergency. Emergency? I asked… no, this isn’t an emergency. It’s a problem, but the steps for remedy are clear – not pleasant, but clear.

Does this even apply to life and death situations, or even life and limb? Of course. Even more so. If another medic on scene is about to screw up a code or give the wrong medication, give or withhold the correct amount of electricity, abdication of my knowledge and authority, of a certain amount of reason and calm will never make me more of a Paramedic. Responsibility comes with power; courage is something we cultivate and choose. Getting wrapped up in the emergency designation is always, from what I’ve observed, a way to cope with lack of knowledge or self-possession. It’s an ego trip.

I guess the thing is that we all have situations to handle. Sure, some have weightier consequences, are more or less pleasant. But what yoga helps me remember is that “emergency” is contextual. If you have a plan and the power to change a situation, then if you have the courage to execute, it’s never your emergency.

Stepping Forward

Sometimes moving forward is a matter of just letting go, and at times it seems we have no choice – the sweep of time, the press of activity can be like an airport walking ramp leaving us lusting for a moment to stop and savor, reflect and process.

But other times, stepping forward takes conscious planning and determination, a bit of knowledge and even some practice and preparation.  This is the kind of moment for which the flow from Downward Dog to the lunge in Sun Salutations can prepare us.

It might seem like leg strength is called for here, but underlying the graceful sweep of stability is core strength. One of the most important muscles in bringing the thigh into the core is the illio-psoas, which connects the lower spine, the pelvis and the femur by attaching to each. The functioning of this deep, long muscle structure is supported by the abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor.

One of the small experiments that helps me and my students learn about this web of connectedness in the core of the body is “puppy dog”. Start in child’s pose, a very active version with the wrists and elbows lifted, pushing the hips back onto the heels with the toes turned under. Pay attention to pressing into the thumb and first finger of each hand, lift the knees two inches off the floor, pushing the hips back and a little up.

Notice which muscles you use at first: most folks feel this in the legs or arms. Connect to the breath and pull your abdomen toward your back, drawing up the pelvic floor. Feel your pelvis tilt forward even as you reach back through your tailbone.

Take frequent breaks, this is a new way of moving so it can wear you out. You want to approach each change with an air of awareness and study, as if trying to catch all the subtlety in a new and complex flavor. As always, practice consciously and kindly – as I’ve said on my other blog… force cancels yoga and pushing doesn’t burn up samskara – it drives it deeper.

Repeat puppy dog several times bringing your attention more and more to your belly and pelvic floor. Try to feel as if you are lifting your entire torso up and backward with your core muscles.

Another exploration I’ve found helpful is to reach one leg at a time up & back for a one legged Down Dog. This stretches the psoas, accesses the consciousness of the opposing muscles, and in conjunction with the consciousness gained in puppy dog can lead to smoother, more conscious and aware sweep-throughs of the leg in the transition to  lunge.

Then you can step forward with the other foot and practice that sweet surrender in a luscious forward bend before rising up.

Practice mindfully, aware of the metaphor pervading your intention and motion.  What are some ways you could use more strength, intention and planning in moving forward in your life? Where do you need to nourish strength quietly? Where can you focus on your core and create more beauty and awareness for yourself and those around you?

Take the small steps, the moments of minute study and feel the microcosmic changes that build force to transform your life!

(post copied from my blog journal – yogaeveryday.wordpress.com)

Stepping forward

Sometimes moving forward is a matter of just letting go. Ishvara Pranidanana – trust, surrender. Sometimes it seems we have no choice – the sweep of time, the press of activity can be like an airport walking ramp leaving us lusting for a moment to stop and savor, reflect and process.

But other times, stepping forward takes conscious planning and determination, a bit of knowledge and perhaps even some practice and preparation – Tapas and Svadyaya.  This is the kind of moment for which the flow from Downward Dog to the lunge in Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) can prepare us.

It might seem like leg strength is called for here, but really what we call on for the graceful sweep of stability is core strength – all the deep structures supporting the back and the connection between the torso and hips/legs.

One of the most important muscles in bringing the thigh into the core is the illio-psoas, which connects the lower spine, the pelvis and the femur by being connected to each. The functioning of this deep, long muscle structure is supported by the abdominal muscles – the rectus in the front middle, the obliques forming Vs on the torso, and the transverse encircling the lower abdomen – as well as the structures of the pelvic floor (these are accessed in mula bandha) and the erector spinae along the spinal column itself.

One of the small experiments that helps me and my students learn about this web of connectedness in the core of the body is “puppy dog”. Start in child’s pose, a very active version with the wrists and elbows lifted, pushing the hips back onto the heels with the toes turned under. Paying attention to pressing into the thumb and first finger of each hand, lift the knees two inches off the floor, pushing the hips back and a little up.

Notice which muscles you use at first: most folks feel this in the legs or arms. Connect to the breath and move your attention into your abdomen pulling it toward your back and pulling the pelvic floor in, feeling the dog tilt (slightly forward) in your pelvis even as you pull your tailbone in & forward.

A word of reminder: take frequent breaks, this is a new way of moving so it can wear you out. You want to approach each change with an air of awareness and study, as if trying to catch all the subtlety in a new and complex flavor. As always, practice consciously and kindly – as I’ve said on my other blog… force cancels yoga and pushing doesn’t burn up samskara – it drives it deeper.

Repeat puppy dog several times bringing your attention more and more to your belly and pelvic floor. Try to feel as if you are lifting your entire torso up and backward with your core muscles.

Another exploration I’ve found helpful is to reach one leg at a time up & back for a one legged Down Dog. This stretches the psoas, accesses the consciousness of the opposing muscles, and in conjunction with the consciousness gained in puppy dog can lead to smoother, more conscious and aware sweep-throughs of the leg in the transition to  lunge.

Then you can step forward with the other foot and practice that sweet surrender in a luscious forward bend before rising up.

Practice mindfully, aware of the metaphor pervading your intention and motion.  What are some ways you could use more strength, intention and planning in moving forward in your life? Where do you need to nourish strength quietly? Where can you focus on your core and create more beauty and awareness for yourself and those around you?

Take the small steps, the moments of minute study and feel the microcosmic changes that build force to transform your life!

some of the searches that led here yesterday:

Yesterday

Search Views
Lovely dogs, get on your knees, bow your 1

I think my favorite is the lovely dogs as I’m surrounded by them. I’ve looked on the internet for a camel pose quote, to no avail…. but I do wonder what it is.  I also wonder whether feet jeans thumb was looking for hitchhiking information…

 In other non-sequitorial news…

sometimes yoga begins with just sitting quietly. Sometimes this feels like a revolution.