Improving body awareness makes it easier to fix problems yourself when they arise.
As an example, I was experiencing shoulder pain when lifting my arms or reaching them out to the sides. It also strongly inhibited my ability to do wheel pose.
While meditating on the muscles of my body I moved my focus to my diaphragm. I noticed that the right side wasn't activating, or at least wasn't activating as much as the left side.
There was a noticeable lack of sensation on my right side compared to my left. In particular I could feel a change in sensation on the left side of my waist but not my right. I then focused on trying to activate my diaphragm in such a way that it created the same feeling on both sides.
At the time I didn't think this related to my shoulder pain. But then while doing wheel pose I decided to focus on activating my diaphragm, along with contracting the psoas (which had been my main focus for so long I'd forgotten to be aware of everything else.) I focused on pulling my kidneys towards my throat to activate my psoas.
Guess what. No shoulder pain. Wheel pose actually felt easier. Not easy, but easier than it had been in a while.
If I'd come across this by accident, (which I sort of did,) but didn't know about body awareness, I could just have done a post called "the diaphragm is connected to the shoulder" and taught people how to fix their shoulder pain by making sure that their diaphragm was fully operational.
The problem with that "formulaic approach" is that shoulder pain may or may not be caused by a partially inactive diaphragm.
Instead, what I am trying to sell is the idea of improving both body awareness and ones ability to control their own body
By being increasingly more body aware I can learn to feel which muscles are activating or deliberately activate (or relax muscles) by looking for the feeling of activation or relaxation.
I can notice what is active and what is not and I can make choices. Hmm, lets try to activate the diaphragm and see what happens. Now what if I relax this muscle.... ah, not such a good idea. I'll keep that relaxed...
By being aware of my body I can fault find it, I can become my own mechanic.
(To feel my diaphragm one exercise I do is belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing.)
It reminds me of a time my dad picked me up on his motorbike.
It was night time and when he started his bike the headlight didn't work.
I can't remember what we checked, or if we checked anything at all. I think we assumed the bulb was busted and so we rode home in stealth mode.
Later on checking the manual, we decided to check the fuses.
Dagnabbit, the fuse for the headlight was oversize and it'd slipped from it's brackets.
A simple fix and if we'd checked we could have sorted out the problem before we road home.
A similiar incident occurred when I was in the army. My job was fixing guns.
On the ranges someone was having a problem with their machine gun not feeding properly.
I took a quick look and figured out that the top cover feed mechanism was broken so replaced the top cover. Later on taking a closer look I found that the problem was that a clip had fallen of.
I could have fixed the problem by just replacing that tiny little clip.
Now I had to clean the top cover I'd taken of so that I could put it back in our spares pack.
While I had fixed the problem the fix wasn't as elegant as it could have been had I looked a little bit more closely.
When we work at improving body awareness we develop the ability to fault find our own body. sense our body so that we can do the equivalent of being able to check a fuse or see if a clip has fallen of. But instead of using our eyes we use other senses.
Learn how to use Friction to improve leg and arm strength.
Simple exercises with easy to follow instructions
Making difficult poses like Chaturanga Dandasana easier to learn.
Learn Your Body with
Frictional Arm and Leg Strength
PDF or Video
The standing forward bend yoga pose can be used to stretch or strengthen the hamstrings and glutes. It can also be used to stretch and strengthen the calves and as a balance exercise.
Yoga forward bends includes forwards bends for the hips and spine. Forward bends for the hips include both bent and straight straight positions.
Your iphone needs power in order to sense your touch. Proprioception needs muscle activity in order to sense your body.
Some simple exercises so that you can work towards the pistol squat gradually.
Arm supported yoga poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Includes plank, chaturanga dandasana, downward dog, dolphin pose, side plank, wheel, reverse plank, table top pose.
This sequence of seated yoga poses includes lotus and virasana variations, janu sirsasana and marichyasana variations as well as more basic seated poses like bound angle, pigeon and seated forward bend.
These hip flexor stretches open up the fronts of the hips and can be used as a preparation for front to back splits. Bent knee hip stretches can be used to focus on rectus fermoris.
Strengthen your hands, your arms, glutes and hamstrings with these standing forward bend variations.
The small actions in this standing psoas stretch can be used to stretch both the upper and lower fibers of the psoas muscle.
Variations of the standing psoas stretch that use the same basic actions.
Here's a break down of the steps of Ashtanga Yoga Surya Namaskar A to make this sun salutation easier to learn and remember.
A reclining psoas stretch I learned from a Richard Freeman Workshop. The better you understand your anatomy the easier it is to work on your body effectively.
The hip stretches included on this page can be used to stretch and improve flexibility of the hip flexors, hip extensors, adductors and abductors.
Friction and pressure are two simple techniques that I use to help my students get stronger and more flexible. These simple techniques also offer a roadway into not only learning how to activate your muscles, but getting a feel for them and your body. Three challenging yoga poses that I use these techniques in are chaturanga, front splits and side splits. While they might not help you get all the way down into the splits, they'll help you feel stronger, and more integrated as you work towards them. And because I've got to pay for my daughters schooling this week, I'm offering a discount on the frictional muscle control videos. (First 100 people only can save over 30%).
Active stretching teaches you muscle control to not only improve flexibility but also body awareness. You'll learn how to adjust postures for better feel as well as more control through a broader range of motion.
Standing exercises for low back pain plus anatomy that can affect the low back and how to use that anatomical understanding.
Experience your body (and understand it) with sensational yoga poses.
Is it a bad idea to heel strike while barefoot running? What are the possible benefits of heel striking? When should you not heel strike?
These yoga poses for abs work on the abdominal muscles (and hips) in both standing positions and seated positions.
Here are the Ashtanga Standing Pose Vinyassas, with inhale movements highlighted in red.