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Just Say No to Compression
Bring extension instead of collapsing into postures
BY MAGAZINE EDITOR SUSAN MAIER-MOUL
Moving without attention to a long strong torso means crushing torsion and sheering in your tissues and bones. Compression cuts off energy, breath and blood to the organs we’re trying to revitalize!
Entering yoga postures with as little compression in the mid-body as possible requires clarity in the abdominal muscles and the muscles of the back.
The psoas muscle is a major contractor that laces through the hips, loops through the illias and inserts in the inner thigh. It draws the knees up or draws the torso forward over the knee when your leg is in a fixed position.
Interestingly, the psoas originates in the same set of lumbar vertebrae to which the diaphragm attaches.
The physical anchor shared by the psoas and the diaphragm is one of the reasons breath and body chemistry are closely interwoven.
Muscle flexibility is dependent on
- enough blood to hydrate the tissues AKA warming up.
Warm ups are like adding water to a sponge. While a dry sponge tears easily, one that is soaked in liquid is resilient and flexible.
- timing and approach Don’t push muscle: it pushes back!
Our muscles have “brakes” called the golgi tendon and muscle spindles that lock the muscle when we approach the edge of our range of motion, protecting us from injury. If we move slowly, in stages into a stretch we give the muscle spindles time to recalibrate and accommodate the depth of our movement.
- neurological acuity Can you find and make use of the opposing muscles?
A contraction in a complementary muscle supports extension in its partner.
Go long and strong with attention
Do forward folds with patient interest. Breathe in the mid-lungs and into your back through stages of release.
- give the muscle spindles time to chill out and allow your muscles to lengthen
- gives you a moment to think and feel your way into muscles instead of sleeping on your joints
- allows the breath to change your blood chemistry, helping your psoas to “stand down” from alert to being at ease in motion.
Give it a try with today’s How To: Folding Forward
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.