The following two minute video is an extract from one of our lectures from our 120 hour Online Course ‘ The Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga’ showing how you can practically use theoretical information to make your yoga practice better.
Essentially the video shows you how to make it easier to for a relatively stiff person to get into a position like binding the arms in the lotus position or a for more experienced practitioner to do a more advanced posture like the Paripurna Matsyendrasana Bianca Machliss is demonstrating in the photo below.
Move Your Shoulder Blades to Move Your Shoulders:
The lecture explains how shoulder joint movements and spinal movements are inter-related and that if you want to do something like reach your left arm to grab the left foot in a half lotus posture (or any similar simpler or more complex movement) then it is generally more effective to turn your shoulders outwards first, then reach your arm behind the back (which brings your shoulder blades closer together) and then turn your shoulders inwards to complete the posture. This is counter intuitive because the final posture has the shoulders turned inwards. So most people will tend to try to achieve this posture by beginning with turning the shoulders inwards and then reaching their arms behind their backs. However, if you begin the posture in this way you will not be able to reach quite as far. In other words if you begin the movement with the shoulder turned inwards then that will make your shoulder blades move away from each other and make the final pose harder to reach.
To understand the theory behind this you can see the more extended four minute version of this lecture below and you can see how by understanding these ‘associated movements’ of the shoulders you can enhance many posture and movements and prevent mistakes from happening when learning or teaching yoga.
Move Your Spine to Move Your Shoulders:
On another perhaps more important level the shoulders can be moved best if the spine is moved first. Shoulder internal rotation and flexion is associated with spinal flexion and shoulder external rotation and flexion is associated with spinal extension. For these reasons and others it is best to move the spine before moving the shoulders. So, for example, to get the right arm behind the back to grab the right leg in a half lotus position it is best to first to twist the spine to the right side, then to extend the spine (lengthen the front of the body), then to side bend the spine to the left side (lengthen the right side of the body), then to flex the spine (lengthen the back of the body, and finally to side bend to the right side (lengthen the left side of the body).
You can see me using this method to twist at 3 minutes 20 seconds in the following video …
And in the following demonstration you can see me use this ‘spinal / shoulder ‘ method to get into a bound lotus posture at 2 minutes 34 seconds …
To learn more please join one or more of our Yoga Synergy courses on Practical Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga or our Teacher Training courses.