A long time ago I was a student in a flow class. I remember thinking how hard it was, transitioning, then holding poses then wishing for a break so that I could rest my legs. I then changed what I was doing. Instead of thinking about how difficult the pose was and praying for the end I focused on making my legs feel stronger.
The pose magically became easier. Simply by focusing on using my legs while doing a series of standing poses my experience changed. I'd found the ease in the yoga pose.
Exercises in Muscle Control Part 1 teaches you to feel and control your hips, knees, and the front, back, insides and outsides of your thighs. It teaches you how to activate and relax these body parts at will so that you can find the ease in a pose for yourself.
It starts with exercises for learning to feel and control your quads, and hip flexors, hamstrings and glutes, inner and outer thighs. It follows with exercises for learning to feel and control the knees and hips.
Why not just focus on making the legs strong and leave it at that?
While it did help make poses that required strength easier, it didn't help me become more flexible. And so I began experimenting with various technqiues to help improve both leg flexibility and strength.
The thing with techniques is that they don't work all of the time. Depending on your body on the day a particular technique will work on one day but not on another. So part of my goal was finding the basic set of techniques that you could learn and then choose from depending on your body on the day.
And that's part of what muscle control is about.
It's a toolbox of techniques that you can practice or choose from so that on any given day you can do your yoga poses effectively.
What does it mean, doing yoga poses effectively? It could mean getting stronger. It could mean getting more flexible. But it could be that you want to relax, you might want to feel energized or you might want to stop thinking for a little while and focus on doing.
In any of those scenarios muscle control can help you give you what your body and mind needs. It helps your body and mind communicate because it's not just about turning muscles on and off at will but learning to listen and feel which muscles to activate or relax.
Muscle control isn't about a master telling the slave what to do. It's more like two dancers working together to become better than the sum of their parts.
It's like navigating through traffic on a motorcycle. You don't just turn the throttle and go, you look for the gaps in traffic and you steer through them (while using the throttle and brakes as required.) Muscle control is the same, you use your senses to feel how best to use your muscles.
As an example of this, I injured my knee a while back but still chose to do the yoga poses I was teaching. With my knee in pain, I used the muscle activation that stabilized my knee and made the knee not hurt so that I could effectively do the yoga pose. I wasn't masking the pain either. I was changing the patterns of tension in my knee so that it was actually safe while I did the yoga pose.
But even without injury, as you get used to feeling your body you'll begin to notice, by feel, when your positioning and muscle activity is less than optimal. You can then use the various muscle control options to do your yoga poses in a way that feels integrated, easier.
Muscle control is about learning to feel your body and then responding to what you feel. But so that you can respond effectively it helps to have understand the options. Muscle control gives you those options.
The initial exercises in this set of videos teach how to feel and control the knees, hips and thighs. Once you have some basic control you can then practice these actions in a short sequence of yoga poses.
Your goal can be to be able to turn your muscles on an off in any of these poses without having to think about how to do it. You'll then be able to use these activations in other poses, even poses not covered in these videos.
If you are a student of yoga, muscle control 1 gives you tools for exploring your body in different ways within each yoga pose. And it gives you a means of training the parts of your body.
If you are a yoga teacher, the better you can feel your own body, feeling muscles activate and deactivate at will, the easier it is to recognize in your students, and the easier it is to teach.
Exercises in Muscle Control Focuses on knees, hips, and thigh muscles and uses these basic poses.
Exercises in Foot Control is a complementary set of videos that focuses on feeling and controlling the feet in both seated and standing poses.