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yin and anatomy of backbends

 
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Ckeenan



Joined: 01 Aug 2008
Posts: 37
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:33 am    Post subject: yin and anatomy of backbends Reply with quote

Hi Bernie,

Here's an anatomy question for you. When we are flexing the spine in for example butterfly pose we are trying to relax the muscles as much as possible to effect the deeper tissues of the spine.

Why when we are extending the spine in seal or twisted roots for example, we don't need to relax the muscles of the spine, and in fact as Paul Grilley mentions we can contract and relax these muscles which may allow us to go deeper.

Why can there be a different approach to flexion and extension of the spine in yin yoga?

Thank you!
Smile
Cathy
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1014
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:08 am    Post subject: To engage muscles or not in Yin backbends? Reply with quote

Indeed, Paul Grilley does suggest that in a yin yoga style backbend we can choose to either engage the back muscles or not yet, in the forward bends we are advised not to engage the back muscles. What's going on?

Paul is correct, of course. Think of the direction we are moving the spine in each case. In the forward folds, we are moving the spine into flexion. If we were to engage the back muscles, the muscles would actually reduce the amount of flexion we would get, because the back muscles are extensors of the spine. To deepen flexion, we need to relax the extensors. In flexion we are targeting the ligaments along the back side of the spine. Engaging the extensors would reduce the stress along these ligaments.

However, if we intend to extend the spine and move it backwards, in order to stress the ligament that runs along the front of the spine, then engaging the extensors muscles can actually help create more of a backbend, creating more stress to the anterior longitudinal ligament.

For some people, engaging the back muscles in a back bend helps to release some uncomfortable compression in the sacrum. However, you do not need to engage the extensors in the back bends, if you already feel that you have enough of a curve due to the pose itself. It is okay to just hang out in the Sphinx or Seal pose or whatever and relax.

Remember, the magic ingredient in Yin Yoga is time, not intensity.

Cheers
Bernie
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