Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kathy Cooper Practice 3: Standing on my own two feet

Today I realized that I don't use my feet as much as I should. My arches are constantly collapsing all over the place and my balance on my feet is terrible! Today's practice was about standing firmly on my feet. Kathy seemed able to align my body in such a way in many of the standing poses that I had to firmly plant my feet in order to hold myself up. I am reminded of the fact that Jill would always point out that the bhandas are energetic directions, not a particular muscular contraction. I was certainly engaging uddiana bhanda and even moola bhanda in my standing series. This paid off in the standing balances...however, by that point I had been SO active in my feet that from ankles to foot to root of the toes, they were getting quite tired. In an unrelated point, I'm healing myself through yoga. My elbows have become a pain in my neck, quite literally. I have developed extreme tension in my levator scapulae and posterior scalenes. No amount of chiropractic manipulation or soft tissue work seems to have worked for months. But guess what, it was pointed out to me recently that my elbows hyper-extend consistently through my practice. Down and up dogs are big culprits here. I'm not using my musculature to hold myself up here, instead I rely on the bony supports and/or my ligaments. Clearly, without correction, this could become a problem in the elbow joint. However, it also puts me in a position where my shoulders close in on the front side of my body. Sitting all day in lecture does nothing but enforce this...so now my natural posture is with my shoulders in front of my body with my palms facing back. Since I started consciously putting a slight bend in my elbows during practice I've noticed and ability to pull the shoulders back during lecture. This new way of practice is strengthening muscles that I couldn't ever figure out before. My utkatasana has improved because I can really access the neccessary inward-spiraling of the arms as I'm developing the strength/flexiblity to move that way. And today I realized that when I continue the slight bend in the elbow theme while in bridge, it opens up all the tight spots in my neck. Bridge is so powerfully important at this point in my life, that I'm temporarily dropping ALL practice of upward-facing bow. I just don't get the same, very necessary, benefit from that. This experience is just sitting here to reinforce that what we might view as the 'easy version' is really something all it's own...so never let go of those 'simple' asanas; they are more powerful than you might first realize.

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