Saturday, January 16, 2010

360 Degree Angle Stretching

So I was thinking about the dialogue today.  (Like, what else is new?)  One of these days, I will write the list of all the reasons I like it, and I will describe what it actually means (in my opinion!) to teach a really good dialogue-based class.

For the moment, I have just a little observation.  I think that ultimately, the key to really teaching with the dialogue - as opposed to simply reciting the dialogue - is to understand the meaning and intent behind every line, enough so that you can convey it clearly to another person.  As a teacher, if you have "perfect" dialogue but have no clue what it means, then you won't be convincing in your delivery and you won't be able to address any individual situations that arise.  And if you've memorized the dialogue but don't appreciate why certain parts are significant, then you'll probably just drop those parts out entirely - which is too bad!

ANYWAY... (sheepishly sneaking back down off soapbox...) I was thinking about "360 degree angle stretching" today.  That is the phrase that is used in hands-to-feet pose and standing separate leg stretching pose.  (It's also what you're eventually doing in the final stretching pose.)  There is also "360 degree backward bending" in camel, which some people (no names...) are always complaining about.  (Heehee.)  I was wondering how many people "get" what this means and how many people think it is nonsense.  It always kinda made sense to me... but that might be because I can do it.  SO... I decided to attempt an illustration!!  Here is hands-to-feet pose and camel pose (click on the picture for a much larger view):

"Eventually the whole body is stretching, 360 degree angle, inside out, from bones to the skin, coccyx to the toes, coccyx to the forehead..." 

No nit-picking on my drawing skills, please!  I think the arms keep changing length, and hair would just have confused me.  Anyway, the purple bits show the part that is stretching.  I put "360 degrees" in quotes for the backbend because most people's heads do not come all the way around to touch their butt when they do regular camel.  (Full camel - I mean the TRUE full camel - actually is a complete circle, with the head coming through between the knees.  The "full camel" that you usually see people like me do is just stage one out of three or four.)

Anyone else find this cool??


bikramyogachick said...

So. darn. cute. I LOVE that you were drawing this out for us.
And yes, it does make sense to me. Perhaps because I feel like someday I will be full circle like that. :)

lz said...

Thank you so much for posting this! The diagram and your explanation are so helpful; I understand the meaning of the phrase a lot more clearly now! Your deep commitment to the details and their significance in the dialogue is so inspiring.

Yolk E said...

Nice--I get what you mean about knowing the dialogue vs. understanding. I think we see that in any kind of class! I've seen instructors who "know" stuff verbatim and can explain techniques that they've learned from a book or whatever, but they don't KNOW it intuitively and from practice. It shows. I think a good student can get something out of pretty much any type of class, ideally, but those really good teachers? Wow. They have that balance between emorization/book knowledge and the ability to adapt and know something deeply.

Do the teachers encourage you to do full camel in advanced? I don't know anything about advanced. I remember a LONG time ago my old Bikram teacher told me I could go for full camel, but I've noticed now they never encourage you to do that.

thedancingj said...

Yaaay. :)

E - Good question. "Camel" and "full camel" are two different postures. In the regular series - 26 postures - we only do camel In the advanced series - 84 postures - we do both. Camel pose is in the middle, and full camel comes near the end, with all the other deep backbends - full cobra, full bow, wheel, etc.

Duffy Pratt said...

Maybe I should post this anonymously so my name can remain hidden.

The problem with the idea of 360 degree stretching in the first forward bend is that you are also pulling as hard as you can with your arms (biceps mostly), and if your contracting them to increase the stretch in your back (pulling is the object of stretching), then you aren't stretching them.

As you point out, Camel and Full Camel are different poses. It may be that Full Camel actually approximates the 360 degrees that you are talking about. Camel just doesn't. Now, there are places in the dialogue where Bikram exaggerates to get people to do what he wants, and that may be what's going on here. But under any circumstances, if the stretch is a full circle, then it can't also be with gravity (or "for gravitation"). The nature of a circle is that it moves in all directions. Gravity only goes one way, last I checked.

Having said that, I think you are dead on about understanding the dialogue as a prerequisite to delivering it well. That's why one of our teachers sometimes says "like a grilled cheese sandwich" :)

aHappyYogi said...

Thank you for a explaining post, I love the math in it.
When I hear the 360 stretching I understand it in the pose.

Mei said...

*my* interpretation of 360º backbending in camel "MAKE SURE YOUR BACK HURTS, I WANT THREE HUNDRED AND SIIIIIIXXXTEEE DEGREE ANGLE BACKWARD BENDING FOR GRAVIIIIIITION" is that people aren't usually used to doing a backbend that deep / far - so yes, Duffy's right - it is a slight exxageration. Because if you "don't" know what "360 Backward Bending" is, how would you know lest you try?

maketh sense? Or am I confusing myself?

Meg vR said...

I can't wait until my upper back opens up some more, so I get the full 360! My head is no where near my butt at this point!

Cat said...

VERY cool.. and i love your illustrations! i love the way full camel looks! one day for me..aaahhh...;)

aHappyYogi said...

I have been thinking alot about the 360 degrees, it is the same as 0 degrees what it will be just depends on from which side you look at it.

For it to be a 360 forward bend it implies that the backward bend before was all the way down (as it might be in some rare cases).

Bianca said...

Alisa Matthew's backbends come into mind as a good example of a 360 degree backbend (or as close to one as anyone will ever get!!).

Loved this post - that part of the dialogue is making so much more sense to me now :)

thedancingj said...

Mei/Duffy - No, I think you're right, "360" is a bit of an exaggeration for the backbend to make you go farther. Sometimes Bikram throws around big numbers to sound more convincing. ONE HUNDRED and TEN percent!! THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DEGREES!! I totally see that. :)

Duffy - No need to sign up for witness protection yet!! I love your posts because they make me THINK.

No one said anything about stretching the arms in the forward bend! You're stretching coccyx to feet (back of the legs) and coccyx to neck (spine). The arms are pulling accessories. Doesn't mean it's not "360."

Discretion being the better part of valor, you'll notice that I didn't say a WORD about "gravitation" because I have no idea what it's supposed to mean. ;)

Meg - Slowly but surely...!

Cat - Thanks for the love. Drawing is pretty hard!!

Cristina - Our brains work the same way. You are right - "zero degree forward bending" would be the hardest thing of all!! Alisa could do it...

Bianca - I thought about trying to draw Alisa's full camel for this post, but gave up because I couldn't get it to look realistic!! She is amazing.

Big G said...

Nice diagrams. The 360 degree thing has always made sense to me. As for "Gravitation", my interpretation is that it means to "Gravitate" your hips towards the mirror. I don't think it has anything to do with "Gravity" per se. This makes sense given the most common correction I get on camel is to push my hips more forward.

ActionJoJo said...

J, I love your drawings! Since I need visuals to help me learn, I feel like I better understand what the dialogue is trying to tell us thanks to your pictures. Thank you!!!

Amber said...

love the diagram! It gives me a better understanding especially the half moons side to side and the 360 camel. I hope to one day acheive a full example of those diagrams lol. thanks so much for taking the time to draw up these!