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  • Sensational Yoga Poses

    The idea of "Sensational Yoga Poses" is to help you learn your body.

    To learn your body, focus on feeling the parts of your body and how they relate.

    Feeling is an active process. In order to learn to feel your body you have to be able to control it. The things that create sensation (and give you feeling) as well as control are your muscles.

    And so sensational yoga poses not only help you to feel your body, they also help you to better control it.

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    Ashtanga Yoga (and Learning Little Bits at a Time)

    When I first started doing yoga I learned and then practiced the Ashtanga yoga primary series of yoga poses.

    It's a set series of yoga poses that I learned by memorizing little bits at a time.

    Yoga Pose Categories

    Yoga Pose Basics

    Two things you can do in any yoga pose are to work at creating space and to work at creating stability.

    Creating space or length makes you yoga pose look and feel big (and can improve both feel and control).

    Creating stability can be viewed as an important subset of control. It can be one of the first things that you create when using control, and it can lead to easier control of other parts of the body.

    Ironically (or not ironically) creating space in a yoga pose could be thought of as one way of creating stability since creating space tends to add tension to connective tissue which in results in not only a better feel for your body but stability.

    Yoga for Strength

    One idea you can work on when trying to get stronger is creating stability.

    While you are at it, for efficient strength, work at feeling and controlling your muscles.

    Yoga for Flexibility

    When working to improve flexibility, you can use the same guidelines as in strength training.

    Create a stable foundation.

    Feel and control the muscles you are trying to stretch (and the muscles that oppose those muscles).

    Meridian Stretches

    In meridian stretching you can focus on relaxing the muscle being stretched so that you stretch the connective tissue within the muscle itself.

    Although you are trying to relax the muscle you are stretching, the goal isn't to relax completely. You still need to stabilize or anchor one end of the muscle being stretched.

    One advantage of meridian stretching is that it can leave you feeling refreshed.

    Breathing as a Muscle Control Practice

    Most breathing exercises are actually exercises in muscle control.

    Bar focusing on the actual passage of breath through your nostrils, throat or mouth, most breath control exercises ask you focus on feeling the sensations generated by your respiratory muscles.

    And so one way to think of muscle control is that it is like a breathing exercise, particularly if you practice activating and relaxing muscles slowly and smoothly.

    Proprioception and Muscle Control

    Muscle control is what allows you to consciously feel and control your body.

    It's via muscle control that you can develop proprioception (a fancy word for "feeling your body".)

    With respect to the posture, movement, muscle control and proprioception, tensegrity is the state where you've optimized tension throughout the body so that you can sense and respond simultaneously.

    You could think of it as being tuned, like a guitar or violin.

    Balance: Feeling and Controlling Your Relationship with the Earth

    If you view the body as a system of relationships, then balance is about feeling and controlling your relationship with the earth.

    As you get better at feeling and controlling this relationship you can apply the same ideas to feeling and controlling the relationships within your body at least at the musculoskeletal level.

    And that's where the anatomy and biomechanics section comes in.

    Anatomy and Biomechanics for Yoga

    The study of anatomy and biomechanics can be used to help guide how you explore your own body.

    The idea here isn't just to talk about, say, the insertion and origin of the biceps muscle (I would just say attachment points) but to actually feel those end points and the muscle that pulls them towards each other in your own body.

    Shoulder, Elbow and Arm Anatomy

    Spine and Torso Anatomy

    Pelvis, SI Joints and Lumbar (Low Back) Anatomy

    Hip and Leg Anatomy

    Pain and Poor Posture

    Some people get into yoga to deal with pain. Others experience pain in the process of doing yoga.

    If you are going to try and fix any problems of pain yourself, I'd suggest that part of that process includes learning to feel and control your body.

    The feeling/sensing part is how you try to diagnose what is causing the problem. The controlling part is what you do to fix the problem.

    Learning to feel and control your body is a very long process. And you may find yourself going in circles, till you figure out what you need to do in order to go deeper. But if you deal with problems in other areas, the same process applies. In either case, the better you understand what you are dealing with, the easier it is to fix problems, (or redefine problems so that they are fixable.)

    If posture (or a lack of good posture) is the problem, the same thing applies. Practice feeling your body and controlling it so that you can then find good posture with minimum effort.

    Consciousness, Time and Space

    Depending on how you practice yoga, it can lead you to a better understanding of what it means to be more conscious.

    (It could simply be used to feel good and there's nothing wrong with that).

    But the better you understand consciousness, the easier it can be to apply what you learn in yoga to other aspects of your life.

    I'll suggest here that thinking, and ego, aren't bad things.

    They are handy tools to have.

    Thinking (and ego) are how we create limits, or definitions. Limits are tools that we can use to make learning more effective. The trick is learning to get rid of limits when they no longer serve.

    Being present is a state of consciousness where we aren't thinking, but we are aware. It's the state of mind where we become fully immersed in the present moment so that time seems to stop.

    You could think of being present as the equivalent of expanding your consciousness into the space of your immediate environment while when thinking your consciousness is expanded across time in "imaginary space".

    How does this relate to yoga?

    The more you focus on feeling your body and controlling it, the more present you become, and the less you think. And that's one reason for the focus on sensation, particularly tension and pressure. These sensations give you something to pay attention to in the present moment.

    Thinking, or analyzing is also important because this is how you look back on your experience of your body from another point of view.

    Both points of view help you to better understand your body.

    All of my yoga ebooks and videos are designed to help you have a better experience of your body. Currently you can find a list of them on my Neil Keleher page.

    Sensational yoga poses are a way of Learning Your Body.

    • The better you can feel your body (proprioceive),
    • the better you can experience it,
    • the better you can understand it

    The easier it is then to improve strength, improve flexibility, coordination, or simply the ability to "be present" in your body.