Introduction to Postural Yoga
As your yoga practice becomes more nuanced, you may begin to notice certain dominant patterns or “natural tendencies” such as feet turning in or out slightly, shoulders rolling in or sagging, or knee caps not facing forward. If not corrected, these postural dysfunctions can become more pronounced as we age and can limit our range of motion, possibly to the point of needing surgery such as knee replacement, hip replacement, or rotator cuff repair.
The questions become What causes these misalignments? and How do we fix them?
Research by Dr. Vladmir Janda in the 1970s showed that the problem is muscle imbalance. Each muscle has an opposing muscle. If one is too strong relative to the other, a joint can be pulled out of alignment and an injury may result. One of the first yoga principles taught to me was balanced action. The muscular actions of the body should be balanced front to back, side to side, and top to bottom. In other words, the agonist (muscle that takes an action) should be balanced against its antagonist (muscle that opposes that action). As an example, the bicep opposes the tricep. If the bicep is too strong relative to the tricep, it may be difficult to straighten the elbow. If the tricep is too strong relative to the bicep, the elbow may extend too far.
Dr. Janda's research found that certain muscles in the body tended to be tight and strong (Postural Muscles) while others tend to be weak (Phasic Muscles). Over time the postural muscles will overpower the opposing phasic muscles and cause potential joint problems. A yoga practice that encourages balanced muscular action is good for both prevention and cure of these issues.
Ken has been teaching yoga since 2003. He evolved into his yoga practice after teaching karate for 16 years, earning a 4th degree Black Belt. He has learned through his varied experience that yoga is the source of many other physical, intellectual and spiritual disciplines. Ken has the ability to clearly and simply explain complex information in an understandable format. Helping students connect with the bigger energy to feel the flow of Prana, Chi or Ki has always been his primary focus.
Be sure to look for Ken's next blog:
1. Identifying Postural and Phasic muscles
2. The basic Postural Yoga alignment Principle