The first five weekends of yoga teacher training have taught me so many things. One of these is balancing effort and non-effort. Yoga delivers the most benefits when the correct muscles work and their opposing muscles do their part and relax.In Parsvakonasana, (Extended Side Angle Pose), a line of energy flows from the back foot through the outstretched arm. All four sides of the back foot are grounded. The quadriceps on both legs are firm and engaged. Meanwhile, the the opposing muscles, the hamstrings, do less. Yoga’s joy is the sweet spot found in balancing effort with non-effort. When this occurs, it’s bliss.
Another key learning is that eight muscles make up our core muscles. These include: the rectus abdominus, obliques and the gluteus medius and minimus. But, the core’s powerhouse is found in its deep muscles: the stomach muscle known as transversus abdominus, spine muscles multifudus and rotatores, pelvic floor and diaphragm. Picture these last four as one large circle: the diaphragm as the top , the pelvic floor as the bottom and the others make up each side. Keep the circle in mind as you engage these muscles.The inside and outside core muscles are your power source to get in and out of yoga poses safely. And, to make yoga more fun.
I took my new knowledge to my practice. To stabilize my core, and make poses such as plank easier, I lightly pulled up on my transversus abdominus and slightly engaged my pelvic floor. With my power starting from inside, some poses seemed lighter and easier.
Note I said easier – not easy!
And so, dear practice, with my engaged core in mind and a better understanding of anatomy, I promise to engage the right muscles to reach that area of bliss when a pose feels light and my breath can easily flow.