There seems to be a lot of confusion around stretching and I am often asked the questions, “What are we actually stretching?”, “Are we stretching muscle or fascia?” and “Should we stretch ligaments?”. One important principle we first need to understand is that stretching will be a different experience depending on your degree of mobility.
In yoga we tend to tend to focus our movements within just three planes of motion. This simple exercise takes the many small facet joints in our neck through their entire spectrum of movement.
Our breath represents life and is the basic movement pattern that enables us to exist and experience. Just as breathing is our most primal, natural movement pattern, so is dysfunctional breathing our most significant aberrant movement pattern. Our primary muscle of respiration, the thoracic diaphragm, is central to our functional core. Its ability to move freely has far reaching consequences on our health from posture, to movement, to spinal stability and visceral function as well as mental health and wellbeing.
Yes myth… the myth is that iliopsoas is functionally one entity. Iliacus and psoas and two individual, unique and independent muscles that share the same insertion on our thigh bone. Their important origins are totally unrelated. Akin to partners sharing the same household they can work together to achieve certain outcomes and at the same time have unique qualities that they express totally independent of the other. As both are strong ‘characters’ with important roles to fulfill they sometimes run into trouble and hence the infamous reputation!
Tune into Monica’s new YouTube channel ‘Heal Yourself’. This is a video to compliment her blog on ‘Saving Your Neck’ (link) and is an easy postural correction to apply both on and off the mat! It shows you how to down-regulate the SCM neck muscle to activate your deep stabilising muscles. This helps to correct a forward head carriage (computer head) and reduces the stress and wear and tear on your neck.
I encounter many students who tell me they are nursing an old disc injury, which in some cases occurred ten or more years ago. Whether your back pain is recent, long-standing or reoccurring, spinal stabilisation is an important factor that needs to be addressed for complete healing to occur. If we look at the anatomy of the spine from cranium to sacrum we can count (and I just did) 150 articulations where movement can occur! As yogis we tend to focus on increasing range of motion in our joints, however, especially in the spine stability is of utmost importance! […]
Here is a new video with Monica that is part of her series “Healing Yourself”. A related article fully explaining its role in healing low back pain will be posted soon.