I was in Flow class the other day when just as we were moving into half-pigeon our teacher uttered the words, ”…working into the Psoas”. My eyebrows shot up.
The wha -?
While I’ve become more familiar with terms like Mula Bandha (Root Lock) and Uddiyana Bandha (Upward Abdominal Lock), for instance (though I’m still not sure I’m always applying either when I’m supposed to be or doing so correctly…), the ‘Psoas’ was a completely new one on me. So, after class I took the opportunity to ask our teacher what is the Psoas (sounds like ‘so-as’) and where is it? The answer I got was really helpful but I don’t feel sufficiently able to do it justice here. This Yoga Journal article explains it far better and in much greater depth than I ever could. Suffice to say, it’s a deeply buried muscle that is more important to our asanas than I realised. It’s quite difficult to get to and I have a feeling I may not have found mine yet…
I had another anatomy-lightbulb moment last week in Pulse Yoga class when Allie on touched hip rotation, explaining to us about the knees not being able to go where the hips won’t let them. When she said that it clicked as to why I was less open on my irksome left side.
I’ve been becoming increasingly curious about anatomy in relation to yoga, not least because of how having a regular practice has affected by body. I no longer suffer from the back pain that made most days a misery and it’s seriously alleviated on ongoing sciatic issue.
Thanks to a recommendation from my yoga home I have seen a fantastic osteopath about my sciatic pain. My worry had been that she would tell me not to practice yoga but in fact the opposite was the case – she simply advised me to do as I have been – listen to my body and don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right. Having osteopathy treatment has been a revelation because now my leg is fine most of the time, but every day is different and there are still times when it flares up and, frustratingly, really impairs my mobility in class.
Anyhow, all of this has made me want to try and gain a deeper understanding of what’s going on with my body in the yoga postures. My osteopath has kindly and patiently answered my questions when I have quizzed her on the spine, the pelvis, parasympathetic nervous system, the foot…. I have taken in bits of information but there have also been a lot of moments where her mouth was moving and what I was hearing may have been easier for me to understand if she was speaking in an obscure Guatemalan dialect. And I am pretty sure she was giving me the idiot’s guide.
Yet still, I do want to try and learn. But where to begin? After a bit of impromptu headstand practice after class the other day with Zara (thanks Zara!), I asked her advice. Why hadn’t I done the most obvious thing of asking my teachers in the first place?!
I’m really touched that Zara has so kindly lent me her Yoga Anatomy book to help me get started. And very luckily for me, it doesn’t appear to be written in an obscure Guatemalan language.
I just might start to get my head round a little of this anatomy stuff after all.