By John Mackey
Learning to stay healthy is my primary concern, physically, mentally, and spiritually. That is what yoga should deliver; healing on all levels. But the learning is constant, and change is constant. Our yoga practice will change as we discover new things about ourselves. And there is so much to discover.
Starting January 13th through February 3rd, I will be leading a series that helps us discover that the myofascia in our bodies may be limiting our freedom or generating a pain response. Each session of the series will focus on about 20 – 25 muscle and fascial areas specific to muscle and joint movement, so we can find free movement, release painful restrictions, and learn energetic engagement to strengthen our individual practice.
I. The Foot and Knee Lines/Connections
- Your individual foot structure, knee torsion, pressure bends, and asana safety.
- How to(s): cross and long arch strengthening, knee safety, foot bone modification
- Fascial releases for: knee pain, ankle pain, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, shin splints
II. Hip, Groin and Lower Back Freedom
- How to(s): honoring the low back sacrum connection, safe bending, standing posture
- Fascial releases for: SI pain, groin pain, hamstring pulls, sciatica, sacrum instability
III. Shoulder Girdle and Neck Alignment
- How to(s): rotator cuff care, proper arm shoulder movement, desk/driving posture
- Fascial releases for: shoulder pain, stiff neck, headaches, TMJ, vision and balance
IV. Force Transmission: Arms, Elbows, Wrists, Hands
- How to(s): anatomical wrist health in weight bearing, proper arm posture
- Fascial releases for: carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, golf elbow, stiff fingers, numbness
Over the years I have used self-myofascial release therapy for frozen shoulder, jammed wrist, twisted ankle, hamstring pull, low back pull, and the aftereffects of a broken foot bone. To be clear, these traumatic injuries occurred off the mat. Presently though, during my yoga practice, whenever I detect the slightest constriction, I stop, perform the release, then continue the practice.
Alignment and posture-wise, just as we appear different on the outside, we appear different on the inside. Some of us are missing muscles, or have extra ones, some have extra bones, some have four or even six lumbar vertebrae. Even the bones we have are shaped differently. We want to move in life and in our yoga practice as if we are different. And we want to do it gently and safely.
We know the Zen proverb: when the student is ready the teacher will appear. So let’s be our own teacher. We may have heard “tuck the tail,” which may be useful if we are hyperlordotic; otherwise please do not (there is better imagery in any case). Or “keep the outside of the feet parallel,” which works if an internal rotation exists somewhere along the hip to foot line; otherwise it is not appropriate. The same applies with “square the hips,” “pull the shoulders down,” and other maxims with toes, fingers, wrists, and knees.
Therefore, each pose is different for each of us. We can find our sthira and sukha for each asana.
Starting with the foundation, and without the medical names for muscles, we can learn enough anatomy to discern the interactions of the body. We don’t need to know the muscle names (we will learn a few), just how they move and how their engagement affects the body, whether they are tight, or the restriction is in our structure.
New this year in the Myofascial Body series:
Cross reference charts for myofascial reference areas. As an example, for carpal tunnel syndrome or hip tightness, quickly know which muscles and fascia to release.
How to use basic myofascial lines of the body (Tom Myers – Anatomy Trains) for muscle tension awareness.
How to assess your body by noticing movement patterns and posture. How to think about the tightness (pain) region as it relates to the whole body.
Let’s discover our body, learn pain referral regions, how to exercise our fascia, find better posture, strengthen our joints, release pain and gain greater range of motion. We can learn to improve our limitations gracefully, with strength and safe alignment.
I look forward to seeing you at the The Myofascial Body Series starting January 13, at Yoga Yoga Northwest. To register, click here.