Sloppy celebrity Yoga
So, I expect most of us have seen the articles in the tabloids or glossy mag’s with some star or another demonstrating their latest fad or pass time in public.
Ok, so I’m Calling Yoga a fad or pass time, scandelous I know, but am I wrong?
After teaching for a few years, a need or thirst for understanding a little more about anatomy is essential if you are really going to be able to offer your students some thing that really draws towards muscular or physical balance at the very least.
I was musing the quality of teaching being offered to, or chosen by celebrities, so decided to google it and see.
To my surprise, I was a little shocked and confused by what I found, image after image revealed small details which can add up to rather large physical imbalances at best and at worst weakness, or even injury.
Maybe its not so important if we are having a bash at it now and again, but repeated or regular bad alignment in our physical practice is no better than strapping yourself into a certain position every day over a long period of time, it’s going to take it’s toll and leave an imprint or pathology.
So lets take a look at several images, both really surprised me but for different reasons.
The first image here is of Sting, and I suspect Trudi, well, I think that’s his wife’s name, anyway, I couldn’t help noticing that, number one, his back foot is almost at 90% to his hips and, and he has lifted the outside of the foot away from the floor.
So what you may ask? well for one, Sting has been practicing for over 25 years, which makes me wonder, who has been teaching him yoga.
Question? Why is the turn of the foot an issue in a Viribhadrasana variation like this?
Answer, As a teacher observing, It will often give us a clue to a holding pattern or muscular restriction.
Looking at Sting perform this posture, we might assume, he either has some form of compressional issue with the ankle ( meaning his range of motion in that joint is limited by bone meeting bone) or its a tension issue meaning the restriction is caused by a shortness or restriction in the elastic or Muscular/Fascia system.
Are there any clues in the image which might help us narrow it down?
Maybe, lets take a look at his front foot. We can see he has a good arch and the ankle looks stable and upright, indicating that there is no sign of tightness in the outside of the lower leg or ankle forcing the foot to Pronate or the ankle to drop towards the centre line.
We can see in this image, even with his legs wider than they should be, (as a general rule for wide leg postures we should have the feet a legs length apart) when about to enter Prasritapadottanasana or “wide foot forward fold” in this image its clear he is able to keep the outside of his feet firmly fixed to the floor and the ankles comfortably lifted.
Verdict: I think we can assume it’s just plain sloppy postural work or bad tuition. Ok Ok Ok, it may have been the case he spotted the camara and his ego momentarilly got the better of him, hahahaha
So without going into too much detail anatomically, I think its safe to say that practicing virabhadrasana with the foot turned out in this way puts an immense amount of pressure on the knee joint, and can leave us vulnerable to injury or even cause weakness over a period of time.
If the foot is not gently and evenly pushing into the floor it also results in an unstable posture.
Keeping the hips square to the front!
Virabhadrasana, when performed correctly, also allows us to stretch and isolate the Iliopsoas.
This muscle has it’s origin from the front surfaces of the transverse processes 12th Thorasic to the 5th lumber joints or Vertibrae in the back and then travels down and over the front of the pelvis to it’s insertion on the inside top of the femur.
If the upper leg or Femur turns out to much the medial or inside of the thigh bone is brought forwards releasing some of the stretch and therefore the amazing benefits of lengthening this powerful muscle. Its a rather special muscle and its no surprise there are anatomical books dedicated to this particular muscle group.
For many people that are required to sit at a desk all day (which is a great many of us), we will eventually develop hypertonicity in the Iliopsoas, resulting in back problems, femoral or sciatic nerve compression, breathing difficulties or irregularities, the list goes on and on.. so its worth getting this right.
Turn the back foot out at least 40 to 45 degrees to protect the knee but don’t turn out to much.
Combine, rotating the thigh towards the front, at the same time add a slight outward rotation to the lower leg to keep lift in the arch of the foot, give it a try it may surprise you.
Avoid going too deep into a lung if it lifts the outside of the back foot away from the floor, as soon as you feel it peeling away or becoming light, hold your lunge where it is and work on stretching or opening the lateral posterior part of the ankle.
Keep your hips square to the front to maximize the stretch on the Iliopsoas
Enjoy your practice, stay safe, and maximize the benefits you receive for your efforts