Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bandha Yoga

Ray Long studied with BKS Iyengar before he became an orthopedic surgeon, and I learned a lot from him in the workshop today: Fundamentals, Standing Poses, Forward Bends and Hip Openers and Vinyasa Flow.

While he talked, 3D illustrated models were projected on the screen that showed the skeleton, ligaments, and muscles in various poses.

The combination of hatha yoga and Western science revealed some new techniques. By using  Facilitated Stretching and
Reciprocal Inhibition  I was able to fully grasp my fingers in Gomukhasana on the right-hand side (something I've been able to do on the left, but not the right,  for the last 5 years). 

The concept of 'interval learning' was useful, for mastering asana but also as a general approach to life. Try something new, then rest between, and while you are resting the subconscious goes to work to help improve the next attempt.

It's not necessary, and not even desirable, to push yourself to the max when you are starting something. Gentle, persistent effort goes a long way.

Ease in and out of poses. 

  1. Define the position of joints in the pose.
  2. Identify the prime mover muscles that act on the joints to create the pose. Contract the muscles to align and stabilize the skeleton.
  3. Identify the antagonist musecles of the prime movers. Stretch those muscles to create flexibility.
  4. Expand the chest.
  5. Create a bandha.

Seeing the skeleton/muscles/ligaments in the 3D illustrations as we were in some of the postures was mind-bending. It's a new way of looking at settling into poses, with some useful cues to help go deeper. To identify the prime mover/antagonist muscles, you need to know some anatomy.

Some other useful instructions for poses I noted:
  • sit in simple cross legged pose with hands on knees and gently pull to expand chest
  • to help expand chest, imagine pressing each side of your trunk against a door frame
  • down dog: start knees bending, shoulders externally rotating; engage triceps and quadraceps; then straighten knees and elbows
  • in Gomukhasana, use knuckles to press between shoulders and into back; try using belt to pull up but also pull down; hold the pose where you can and then go a bit more deeply
  • getting up out of trikonasana, bend knee to be kind to both knees and back
  • for ardha chandrasana, going in do a half-triangle, step back leg; with bent knee rise up into position; then straighten leg 

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