On to knees and toes – and the psoas

The topic of this afternoon’s core session was anatomy: the lower limbs.  During our previous anatomy class we focused on the upper limbs; in today’s class, we drew quite a bit from that content to examine how similar the arms/hands are to the feet/legs.  Yes, in day-to-day work, the top part of our body tends to do quite different things than the lower part.  (I.e., we generally use our arms for maneuverability and expression, and our legs for support and locomotion.)  However, in yoga, we often work to use our arms more like legs (i.e., arm balance poses), and our legs more like arms (i.e., boat pose, happy baby, extended hand-to-big-toe pose, etc.).  I had never really thought about this contrast before; and appreciate exploring it both in this focused yoga session, but also more in my “usual” yoga practice, as well as in my day-to-day life.

Indeed, this class contained all sorts of cool new nuggets for me to take in, ponder, process, and play with.  For example, did you know that babies actually spiral into the world?  Kids don’t get birthed in a straight/linear path; they are pushed out with a little “backspin” to them.  How wild is that?  I also learned that all of our bones can move/rotate/bend – even the big femur bone.  Granted, the movement/rotation/bend-ability might be very slight; but the ability is present.  Amazing.

In addition to comparing and contrasting arms and legs/hands and feet, we also spent a good part of class discussing and exploring the psoas.  The most notable exercise we did was a partner activity: one person laid on their back, and moved their legs up to about a 45 degree angle.  The other person then stood facing the person who was laying down, and held their legs.  The goal of the laying-down person was to completely surrender the weight of their legs to the standing person; and the goal of the standing person was to fully support the leg weight being offered to them.  Once each person “achieved” their goal as much as they could, the standing person then s-l-o-w-l-y started lowering the legs towards the ground.

Through this activity, I learned several things:

  1. Legs are heavy! I don’t know how much two “average” legs weigh (though I’m sure I could find out online), but my partner’s legs felt like they weighed at least 20 pounds.  Which may not seem like a lot – but it felt like a lot!
  2. “Letting go” is not as easy as it seems.  Indeed, it is a skill; and like any skill, it can be learned, developed, and refined; but doing so does require both willingness and work.
  3. When my legs were being lowered, I experienced quite a wild sensation: When my legs were around 10-15 degrees still above the ground, they felt like they should be on the ground; and when my legs finally did touch the ground, they felt like they were actually dipping beneath the ground – as if they were dangling off the back of a boat into water.  It was a very weird sensation, but it was also a very cool experience.

This yoga training journey continues to open my mind to new views and perspectives; even a seemingly “straight-forward”, fact-based topic like Human Anatomy shows me the amazing complexity, wonderful challenges, and beautiful contradictions that life can hold.  And I really am delighting in exploring them all – even when they push me.



About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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