Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Interlocking pieces

Me me me me me me!!  Ok, that's enough about me for now.  Let's talk yoga! 

I noticed something interesting last night in standing bow pose.  I've developed a problem where my kicking leg keeps on "turning out" at the height of the posture.  This ONLY happens on the right side.  It's very annoying.  I can SEE it happen, but it happens on its own.  I keep trying to just do a better kick (kick BACK more), but it doesn't always straighten it out.

Well, last night I noticed ANOTHER problem: my left shoulder wasn't coming all the way under my chin.  It was over to the left a little bit.  That meant that I wasn't stretching my left arm forward as much as I could.  So in the next set, I paid attention to stretching my arm and got it in the center right away.

BOOM: my leg stayed in the right place.

On one hand, well yes, of COURSE that would work.  If you don't coordinate coming down AND kicking AND stretching, you end up with trouble.  But it just did not occur to me that a little laziness in my left arm would be the cause of all the other problems!  I've had quite a few teachers in the last couple months tell me to fix my leg, but no one ever thought about the other parts of the posture.  The answer is not always obvious.  Sometimes the trick is to find that "keystone," and once you slip it into place, everything else automatically stabilizes.

This is just one timely example of one of my favorite aspects of the series, which is expressed neatly by the founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir: "When you try to pick out anything by itself, you find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

It's pretty amazing.  There is nothing in the yoga that really exists in isolation.  The different components of the individual postures are physiologically linked, the postures themselves work together in synergy, and then of course everything that happens in the yoga room is inextricably linked to your life.  I could list SO many examples, but here's another small technical one.  I had a little epiphany about "chin up" when I was doing the first part of awkward pose the other night.  The hardest part of that posture for me is getting the backbend in the lower spine.  It finally occurred to me that when you lift your chin a little bit, so that there's a tiny arch in your neck, it triggers the backbend in the entire spine.  I moved my chin maybe a millimeter higher and found an awesome curve in my lower back.  That was cool!  There are so many interlocking pieces in these postures.  I never get tired of them.

I laughed at myself when I wrote the opening paragraph of this post - "I'm not going to talk about me anymore, I'm going to talk about yoga!" - because it's almost impossible now to talk about one without bringing up the other.  That's when you know you're really in deep.  You can't talk about yoga without weaving in pieces of your self, and you can't tell a story of your life without yoga in it!


Charlie said...

During my 60 day challenge I have been focusing on standing head to knee. Yesterday, in head to knee with stretching, I was concentrating on elbows down. I need to get my elbows down more in the standing version.

Suddenly, there was a shift in my upper back, kind of under the scapula. It's the last place I would have expected a release.

I have a student, a really good student named Jen. Jen had something off in her triangle. I would look at her knee alignment, arm alignment, her hips, whatever. I could not figure out what was up.

One day she showed up and all was good. "What was the difference" I asked"?

Turns out she took Linda's class. Linda adjusted her set up: "hips forward, upper body back, spine straight, left leg locked".

We think the difference came from a little bit hips forward in the set up.

And, it all changes from person to person too:)

bikramyogachick said...

Funny Charlie should mention setup. The other day a teacher was hounding us about the set up. "it's all in the setup!". I've been doing this yoga for two and a half years, but sometimes, I get an "oh yeah, why haven't I been paying attention to that" epiphany and wham! I'm back to basics. Back to the setup and back to the dialog. Just listen to the dialog.
Damn I love this yoga! I just don't think I'm going to "fall for" moksha like I've fallen for bikram!

thedancingj said...

Wow, I love that you guys both brought up triangle! That's the other posture that I was thinking about strongly when I wrote this.

I was reading some quotes on one of the TT blogs a week or two ago, and one guy had this great quote from Emmy. "I feel like a voice in the wilderness every morning in triangle. I tell you push your hips forward and your upper body back. Nothing." I keep hearing this in my head now when I set up for triangle (it is SO Emmy, it just kills me), and it REALLY makes a difference! (And I thought I was doing alright...) Love it. :)

Cristina said...


This connection-things are so wonderful, nice, interesting and when they click in just make me so Happy.

The other week I just realized that I have started to love the separate leg, head to knee pose. The thing I do different is that I don't tense the muscles in my mouth and tongue, i just use the muscles in the throat to pull the head in. It became an enormous difference.

tracik said...

Great post! My teacher Monday night said that she never thought 26 poses could still amaze her after practicing for so many years. Isn't it great when you have that "aha!" moment. Love it.

Rebecca said...

I was able to extend my leg in head-to-knee last night. I was thrilled. Just to have my standing leg locked enough to be able to take the time to the extend the leg ... wow. I love how we are all at diferent places, but growing all the same. That's what's so cool about the 26 poses and everybody being on the same page regardless of where we live, etc.

Big G said...

This is exactly why I love getting with the teachers before or after to go over specific postures. There are so many little subtle things that make a big difference!

Rebecca said...

We are having a posture clinic on 11/15. I've never been to one, but am so excited to attend. Lynn Whitlow is giving it. I understand she is just wonderful. I'm sure to learn a lot. Probably over my head though.

thedancingj said...

Yes yes yes to all of you. Love the 26 and 2!

Rebecca!! I do not think that Lynn's clinic will be "over your head." Bikram yoga is not like that. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to understand 99% of what she talks about. A really great teacher doesn't need to use lots of jargon and can explain all the postures clearly even to total beginners. You will have so much fun learning. Now DOING everything, well, that's something else entirely which we ALL have to work on. ;-)