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YOGA ANATOMY LeslieKaminoff AsanaAnalysisby

YOGA

ANATOMY

LeslieKaminoff

AsanaAnalysisby

AmyMatthews

Illustratedby

SharonEllis

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HumanKinetics
HumanKinetics
LibraryofCongressCataloging­in­PublicationData Kaminoff,Leslie. Yogaanatomy/LeslieKaminoff;illustratedbySharonEllis.
LibraryofCongressCataloging­in­PublicationData
Kaminoff,Leslie.
Yogaanatomy/LeslieKaminoff;illustratedbySharonEllis.
p.cm.
Includesindexes.
ISBN­13:978­0­7360­6278­7(softcover)
ISBN­10:0­7360­6278­5(softcover)
1.Hathayoga.2.Humananatomy.I.Title.
RA781.7.K3562007
613.7’046­­dc22
2007010050
ISBN­10:0­7360­6278­5(print)
ISBN­13:978­0­7360­6278­7(print)
ISBN­10:0­7360­8218­2(AdobePDF)
ISBN­13:978­0­7360­8218­1(AdobePDF)
Copyright©2007byTheBreatheTrust
Allrightsreserved.Exceptforuseinareview,thereproductionorutilizationofthisworkinanyformor
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GraphicDesigner:FredStarbird
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Illustrator(coverandinterior):SharonEllis
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Tomyteacher,T.K.V.Desikachar,Iofferthisbookingratitudeforhisunwaveringinsistence
Tomyteacher,T.K.V.Desikachar,Iofferthisbookingratitudeforhisunwaveringinsistence
thatIfindmyowntruth.Mygreatesthopeisthatthisworkcanjustifyhisconfidencein
me.
And,tomyphilosophyteacher,RonPisaturo—thelessonswillneverend.
—LeslieKaminoff
Ingratitudetoallthestudentsandteacherswhohavegonebefore
especiallyPhilip,
mystudent,teacher,andfriend.
—AmyMatthews

Contents

Acknowledgmentsvii

Introductionix

Chapter 1Dynamicsof Breathing

1

Chapter 2YogaandtheSpine

17

Chapter 3Understanding theAsanas

29

Chapter 4StandingPoses

33

Chapter 5SittingPoses

79

Chapter 6KneelingPoses

119

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Chapter 7SupinePoses Chapter 8PronePoses 135 163 Chapter 9ArmSupport Poses 175 ReferencesandResource2s11
Chapter 7SupinePoses
Chapter 8PronePoses
135
163
Chapter 9ArmSupport
Poses
175
ReferencesandResource2s11
AsanaIndexesinSanskritandEnglis2h13
AbouttheAuthor219
AbouttheCollaborator220
AbouttheIllustrator221
acknowledgments irstandforemost,Iwishtoexpressmygratitudetomyfamily—mywifeUma,andmy F
acknowledgments
irstandforemost,Iwishtoexpressmygratitudetomyfamily—mywifeUma,andmy
F sonsSasha,Jai,andShaun.Theirpatience,understanding,andlovehavecarriedme
throughthethree­yearprocessofconceiving,writing,andeditingthisbook.Theyhave
sacrificedmanyhoursthattheywouldotherwisehavespentwithme,andthat’swhatmade
thisworkpossible.Iamthankfulbeyondmeasurefortheirsupport.Iwishalsotothankmy
fatherandmotherforsupportingtheirson’sunconventionalinterestsandcareerforthe
pastfourdecades.Allowingachildtofindhisownpathinlifeisperhapsthegreatestgift
thataparentcangive.
Thishasbeenatrulycollaborativeprojectwhichwouldneverhavehappenedwithout
theinvaluable,ongoingsupportofanincrediblytalentedanddedicatedteam.LydiaMann,
whosemostaccuratetitlewouldbe“ProjectandAuthorWrangler”isagifteddesigner,artist,
andfriendwhoguidedmethrougheveryphaseofthisproject:organizing,clarifying,and
editingthestructureofthebook;shootingthemajorityofthephotographs(includingthe
authorphotos);designingthecover;introducingmetoBackPack,acollaborativeWeb­based
servicefrom37Signals,whichservedastherepositoryoftheimages,text,andinformation
thatwereassembledintothefinishedbook.WithoutLydia’shelpandskill,thisbookwould
stillbelingeringsomewhereinthespacebetweenmyheadandmyharddrive.
MycolleagueandcollaboratorAmyMatthewswasresponsibleforthedetailedandinno­
vativeasanaanalysisthatformsthebackboneofthebook.WorkingwithAmycontinuesto
beoneoftherichestandmostrewardingprofessionalrelationshipsI’veeverhad.
SharonEllishasproventobeaskilled,perceptive,andflexiblemedicalillustrator.When
Ifirstrecruitedherintothisprojectafteradmiringherworkonline,shehadnofamiliarity
withyoga,butbeforelong,shewasslingingtheSanskrittermsandfeelingherwaythrough
thepostureslikeaseasonedyogaadept.
Thisprojectwouldneverhaveexistedhaditnotbeenoriginallyconceivedbytheteam
atHumanKinetics.MartinBarnard’sresearchledtomebeingofferedtheprojectinthe
firstplace.LeighKeylockandJasonMuzinic’seditorialguidanceandencouragementkept
theprojectontrack.Ican’tthankthemenoughfortheirsupportandpatience,butmostly
fortheirpatience.
Averyspecialthankyougoestomyliteraryagentandgoodfriend,BobTabian,who
hasbeenasteady,reliablevoiceofreasonandexperience.He’sthefirstpersonwhosaw
measanauthor,andneverlosthisfaiththatIcouldactuallybeone.
Foreducation,inspiration,andcoachingalongtheway,IthankSwamiVishnuDevana­
nda,LyndaHuey,LeroyPerryJr.,JackScott,LarryPayne,CraigNelson,GaryKraftsow,Yan
Dhyansky,SteveSchram,WilliamLeSassier,DavidGorman,BonnieBainbridgeCohen,Len
Easter,GilHedley,andTomMyers.Ialsothankallmystudentsandclientspastandpresent
forbeingmymostconsistentandchallengingteachers.
Abigthankyougoesouttoallthemodelswhoposedforourimages:AmyMatthews,
AlanaKornfeld,JanetAschkenasy,MarikoHirakawa(ourcovermodel),SteveRooney(who
alsodonatedthestudioatInternationalCenterofPhotographyforamajorshoot),Eden
Kellner,ElizabethLuckett,DerekNewman,CarlHorowitz,J.Brown,JyothiLarson,Nadiya
Nottingham,RichardFreeman,Arjuna,EddieStern,ShaunKaminoff,andUmaMcNeill.
ThanksalsogototheKrishnamacharyaYogaMandiramforpermissiontousetheiconic
photographsofSriT.KrishnamacharyaasreferencefortheMahamudraandMulaband­
hasanadrawings.
vii
hasanadrawings. vii

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viii Acknowledgments InvaluablesupportforthisprojectwasalsoprovidedbyJenHarris,EdyaKalev,Leandro
viii
Acknowledgments
InvaluablesupportforthisprojectwasalsoprovidedbyJenHarris,EdyaKalev,Leandro
Villaro,RudiBach,JennaO’Brien,andalltheteachers,staff,students,andsupportersof
TheBreathingProject.
—LeslieKaminoff
ThankstoLeslieforinvitingmetobeapartofitall
littledidIknowwhatthat“cool
idea”wouldbecome!Manythankstoalloftheteacherswhoencouragedmycuriosityand
passionforunderstandingthings:especiallyAlisonWest,forcultivatingaspiritofexplora­
tionandinquiryinheryogaclasses;MarkWhitwell,forconstantlyremindingmeofwhat
IalreadyknowaboutwhyIamateacher;IreneDowd,forherenthusiasmandprecision;
andBonnieBainbridgeCohen,whomodelsthepassionandcompassionforherselfandher
studentsthatletsherbesuchagiftasateacher.
AndIamhugelygratefultoallthepeopleandcirclesthathavesustainedmeinthepro­
cessofworkingonthisbook:mydearestfriendsMichelleandAynsley;thesummerBMC
circle,especiallyourkitchentablecircle,Wendy,Elizabeth,andTarina;Kidney,andallthe
peopleItoldto“stopasking!”;myfamily;andmybelovedKaren,withoutwhoseloveand
supportIwouldhavebeenmuchmorecranky.
—AmyMatthews

Introduction

hisbookisbynomeansanexhaustive,completestudyofhumananatomyorthevast T scienceofyoga.Nosinglebookpossiblycouldbe.Bothfieldscontainapotentiallyinfi­

nitenumberofdetails,bothmacro­andmicroscopic—allofwhichareendlesslyfascinating andpotentiallyusefulincertaincontexts.MyintentionistopresentwhatIconsidertobe thekeydetailsofanatomythatareofthemostvalueandusetopeoplewhoareinvolved inyoga,whetherasstudentsorteachers. Toaccomplishthis,aparticularcontext,orview,isnecessary.Thisviewwillhelpsortout theimportantdetailsfromthevastseaofinformationavailable.Furthermore,suchaview willhelptoassemblethesedetailsintoanintegratedviewofourexistenceas“indivisible entitiesofmatterandconsciousness.” 1 Theviewofyogausedinthisbookisbasedonthestructureandfunctionofthehuman body.Becauseyogapracticeemphasizestherelationshipofthebreathandthespine,Iwill payparticularattentiontothosesystems.Byviewingalltheotherbodystructuresinlight oftheirrelationshiptothebreathandspine,yogabecomestheintegratingprincipleforthe studyofanatomy.Additionally,foryogapractitioners,anatomicalawarenessisapowerful toolforkeepingourbodiessafeandourmindsgroundedinreality. Thereasonforthismutuallyilluminatingrelationshipbetweenyogaandanatomyis

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simple:Thedeepestprinciplesofyogaarebasedonasubtleandprofoundappreciationof
simple:Thedeepestprinciplesofyogaarebasedonasubtleandprofoundappreciationof
howthehumansystemisconstructed.ThesubjectofthestudyofyogaistheSelf,andthe
Selfisdwellinginaphysicalbody.
Theancientyogisheldtheviewthatweactuallypossessthreebodies:physical,astral,
andcausal.Fromthisperspective,yogaanatomyisthestudyofthesubtlecurrentsofenergy
thatmovethroughthelayers,or“sheaths,”ofthosethreebodies.Thepurposeofthiswork
istoneithersupportnorrefutethisview.Iwishonlytooffertheperspectivethatifyouare
readingthisbook,youpossessamindandabodythatiscurrentlyinhalingandexhalingin
agravitationalfield.Therefore,youcanbenefitimmenselyfromaprocessthatenablesyou
tothinkmoreclearly,breathemoreeffortlessly,andmovemoreefficiently.This,infact,will
beourbasicdefinitionofyogapractice:theintegrationofmind,breath,andbody.
Thisdefinitionisthestartingpointofthisbook,justasourfirstexperienceofbreathand
gravitywasthestartingpointofourlivesonthisplanet.
Thecontextthatyogaprovidesforthestudyofanatomyisrootedintheexplorationof
howthelifeforceexpressesitselfthroughthemovementsofthebody,breath,andmind.
Theancientandexquisitemetaphoricallanguageofyogahasarisenfromtheveryrealana­
tomicalexperimentationsofmillionsofseekersoverthousandsofyears.Alltheseseekers
sharedacommonlaboratory—thehumanbody.Itistheintentionofthisbooktoprovide
aguidedtourofthis“lab”withsomeclearinstructionsforhowtheequipmentworksand
whichbasicprocedurescanyieldusefulinsights.Ratherthanbeingahow­tomanualfor
thepracticeofaparticularsystemofyoga,Ihopetoofferasolidgroundingintheprinciples
thatunderliethephysicalpracticeofallsystemsofyoga.
1 I’minspiredherebyafamousquotefromphilosopherandnovelistAynRand:“Youareanindivisibleentityofmatterand
consciousness.Renounceyourconsciousnessandyoubecomeabrute.Renounceyourbodyandyoubecomeafake.Renounce
thematerialworldandyousurrenderittoevil.”
ix

x

introduction

Akeyelementthatdistinguishesyogapracticefromgymnasticsorcalisthenicsisthe

intentionalintegrationofbreath,posture,andmovement.Theessentialyogicconceptsthat

refertotheseelementsarebeautifullyexpressedbyahandfulofcoupledSanskritterms:

prana/apana

sthira/sukha

brahmana/langhana

sukha/dukha

Tounderstandtheseterms,wemustunderstandhowtheywerederivedinthefirstplace:

bylookingatthemostfundamentalfunctionalunitsoflife.Wewilldefinethemaswego

along.

Tograspthecoreprinciplesofbothyogaandanatomy,wewillneedtoreachbackto

theevolutionaryandintrauterineoriginsofourlives.Whetherwelookatthesimplest

single­celledorganismsorourownbeginningsasnewlyconceivedbeings,wewillfindthe

basisforthekeyyogicmetaphorsthatrelatetoalllifeandthatilluminatethestructureand

functionofourthinking,breathing,movinghumanbodies.

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Dynamicsofbreathing 1
Dynamicsofbreathing 1 hemostbasicunitoflife,thecell,canteachyouanenormousamountaboutyoga.In T
Dynamicsofbreathing
1
hemostbasicunitoflife,thecell,canteachyouanenormousamountaboutyoga.In
T fact,themostessentialyogicconceptscanbederivedfromobservingthecell’sform
andfunction.Thischapterexploresbreathanatomyfromayogicperspective,usingthe
cellasastartingpoint.
YogaLessonsFromaCell
Cellsarethesmallestbuildingblocksoflife,fromsingle­celledplantstomultitrillion­celled
animals.Thehumanbody,whichismadeupofroughly100trillioncells,beginsasasingle,
newlyfertilizedcell.
Acellconsistsofthreeparts:thecellmembrane,thenucleus,andthecytoplasm.The
membraneseparatesthecell’sexternalenvironment,whichcontainsnutrientsthatthecell
requires,fromitsinternalenvironment,whichconsistsofthecytoplasmandthenucleus.
Nutrientshavetogetthroughthemembrane,andonceinside,thecellmetabolizesthese
nutrientsandturnsthemintotheenergythatfuelsitslifefunctions.Asaresultofthis
metabolicactivity,wastegetsgeneratedthatmustsomehowgetbackoutthroughthe
membrane.Anyimpairmentinthemembrane’sabilitytoletnutrientsinorwasteoutwill
resultinthedeathofthecellviastarvationortoxicity.Thisobservationthatlivingthings
takeinnutrientsprovidesagoodbasisforunderstandingthetermprana,whichrefersto
whatnourishesalivingthing.Pranarefersnotonlytowhatisbroughtinasnourishment
butalsototheactionthatbringsitin. 1
Ofcourse,therehastobeacomplementaryforce.Theyogicconceptthatcomplements
pranaisapana,whichreferstowhatiseliminatedbyalivingthingaswellastheactionof
elimination. 2 Thesetwofundamentalyogicterms—pranaandapana—describetheessential
activitiesoflife.
Successfulfunction,ofcourse,
expressesitselfinaparticularform.
Certainconditionshavetoexist
inacellfornutrition(prana)to
enterandwaste(apana)toexit.
Themembrane’sstructurehasto
allowthingstopassinandoutof
it—ithastobepermeable(see
figure1.1).Itcan’tbesoperme­
able,however,thatthecellwall
losesitsintegrity;otherwise,the
cellwilleitherexplodefromthe
pressureswithinorimplodefrom
thepressuresoutside.
Figure1.1Thecell’smembranemustbalancecontain­
ment(stability)withpermeability.
1
TheSanskritwordpranaisderivedfrompra,aprepositionalprefixmeaning“before,”andan,averbmeaning“tobreathe,”
“toblow,”and“tolive.”Here,pranaisnotbeingcapitalized,becauseitreferstothefunctionallifeprocessesofasingleentity.
ThecapitalizedPranaisamoreuniversaltermthatisusedtodesignatethemanifestationofallcreativelifeforce.
2
TheSanskritwordapanaisderivedfromapa,whichmeans“away,”“off,”and“down,”andan,whichmeans“toblow,”“to
breathe,”and“tolive.”

YogaAnatomy

Inthecell(andalllivingthings,forthatmatter),theprinciplethatbalancespermeability isstability.Theyogictermsthatreflectthesepolaritiesaresthira 3 andsukha. 4 Allsuccessful livingthingsmustbalancecontainmentandpermeability,rigidityandplasticity,persistence andadaptability,spaceandboundaries. 5 Youhaveseenthatobservingthecell,themostbasicunitoflife,illuminatesthemostbasic conceptsinyoga:prana/apanaandsthira/sukha.Nextisanexaminationofthestructure andfunctionofthebreathusingtheseconceptsasaguide.

PranaandApana

Thebody’spathwaysfornutrientsandwastearenotassimpleasthoseofacell,butthey arenotsocomplexthatyoucan’tgrasptheconceptsaseasily.

Figure1.2showsasimplifiedversionofthenutritionalandwastepathways.Itshowshow

thehumansystemisopenatthetopandatthebottom.Youtakeinprana,nourishment,in

solidandliquidformatthetopofthesystem:Itentersthealimentarycanal,goesthrough

thedigestiveprocess,andafteralotoftwistsandturns,theresultingwastemovesdown

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andout.Ithastogodowntogetoutbecausetheexitisatthebottom.So,theforceof
andout.Ithastogodowntogetoutbecausetheexitisatthebottom.So,theforceof
apana,whenit’sactingonsolidandliquidwaste,hastomovedowntogetout.
Youalsotakeinpranaingaseousform:Thebreath,likesolid
andliquidnutrition,entersatthetop.Buttheinhaledairremains
abovethediaphragminthelungs(seefigure1.3),whereit
exchangesgaseswiththecapillariesatthealveoli.Thewaste
gasesinthelungsneedtogetout—buttheyneedtogetback
outthesamewaytheycamein.Thisiswhyitissaidthatapana
mustbeabletooperatefreelybothupwardanddownward,
dependingonwhattypeofwasteit’sactingon.Thatisalso
whyanyinabilitytoreverseapana’sdownwardpushwillresult
inanincompleteexhalation.
Theabilitytoreverseapana’sdownwardactionisavery
basicandusefulskillthatcanbeacquiredthroughyogatrain­
ing,butitisnotsomethingthatmostpeopleareabletodo
rightaway.Pushingdownwardisthewaythatmostpeople
areaccustomedtooperatingtheirapanabecausewhenever
there’sanythingwithinthebodythatneedstobedisposed,
humanstendtosqueezeinandpushdown.Thatiswhymost
beginningyogastudents,whenaskedtoexhalecompletely,will
squeezeinandpushdowntheirbreathingmusclesasifthey’re
urinatingordefecating.
Figure1.2Solidandliquidnutrition(blue)enteratthetopofthe
systemandexitaswasteatthebottom.Gaseousnutritionand
waste(red)enterandexitatthetop.
3 TheSanskritwordsthirameans“firm,”“hard,”“solid,”“compact,”“strong,”“unfluctuating,”“durable,”“lasting,”and
“permanent.”Englishwordssuchasstay,stand,stable,andsteadyarelikelyderivedfromtheIndo­Europeanrootthatgave
risetotheSanskritterm.
4 TheSanskritwordsukhaoriginallymeant“havingagoodaxlehole,”implyingaspaceatthecenterthatallowsfunction;it
alsomeans“easy,”“pleasant,”“agreeable,”“gentle,”and“mild.”
5 Successfulman­madestructuresalsoexhibitabalanceofsthiraandsukha;forexample,acolander’sholesthatarelarge
enoughtoletoutliquid,butsmallenoughtopreventpastafromfallingthrough,orasuspensionbridgethat’sflexibleenough
tosurvivewindandearthquake,butstableenoughtosupportitsload­bearingsurfaces.

dynamicsofbreathing

SukhaandDukha

Thepathwaysmustbeclearofobstructingforces inorderforpranaandapanatohaveahealthy relationship.Inyogiclanguage,thisregionmust beinastateofsukha,whichliterallytranslates as“goodspace.”“Badspace”isreferredtoas dukha,whichiscommonlytranslatedas“suf­ fering.” 6 Thismodelpointstothefundamentalmethod­ ologyofallclassicalyogapractice,whichattends totheblockages,orobstructions,inthesystem toimprovefunction.Thebasicideaisthatwhen youmakemore“goodspace,”yourpranicforces willflowfreelyandrestorenormalfunction.This isincontrasttoanymodelthatviewsthebody asmissingsomethingessential,whichhastobe addedfromtheoutside.Thisiswhyithasbeen

Figure1.3Thepathwaythatairtakes saidthatyogatherapyis90percentaboutwaste

intoandoutofthebody.

removal.

Anotherpracticalwayofapplyingthisinsight

tothefieldofbreathtrainingistheobservation:Ifyoutakecareoftheexhalation,the

inhalationtakescareofitself.

Breathing,Gravity,andYoga

Keepinginthespiritofstartingfromthebeginning,let’slookatsomeofthethingsthat

happenattheverystartoflife.

Inutero,oxygenisdeliveredthroughtheumbilicalcord.Themotherdoesthebreathing.

Thereisnoairandverylittlebloodinthelungswheninuterobecausethelungsarenon­

functionalandmostlycollapsed.Thecirculatorysystemislargelyreversed,withoxygen­rich

bloodflowingthroughtheveinsandoxygen­depletedbloodflowingthroughthearteries.

Humansevenhavebloodflowingthroughvesselsthatwon’texistafterbirth,becausethey

willsealoffandbecomeligaments.

Beingbornmeansbeingseveredfromtheumbilicalcord—thelifelinethatsustained

youforninemonths.Suddenly,andforthefirsttime,youneedtoengageinactionsthat

willensurecontinuedsurvival.Theveryfirstoftheseactionsdeclaresyourphysicaland

physiologicalindependence.Itisthefirstbreath,anditisthemostimportantandforceful

inhalationyouwillevertakeinyourlife.

Thatfirstinhalationwasthemostimportantonebecausetheinitialinflationofthelungs

causesessentialchangestotheentirecirculatorysystem,whichhadpreviouslybeengeared

towardreceivingoxygenatedbloodfromthemother.Thefirstbreathcausesbloodtosurge

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specializedvesselsoffetalcirculationtoshutdownandsealoff.
specializedvesselsoffetalcirculationtoshutdownandsealoff. intothelungs,therightandleftsidesofthehearttoseparateintotwopumps,andthe
Thatfirstinhalationisthemostforcefuloneyouwillevertakebecauseitneedstoover­
cometheinitialsurfacetensionofyourpreviouslycollapsedandamniotic­fluid­filledlung
6 TheSanskritwordsukhaisderivedfromsu(meaning“good”)andkha(meaning“space”).Inthiscontext(pairedwith
dukha),itreferstoastateofwell­being,freeofobstacles.Likethe“goodaxlehole,”apersonneedstohave“goodspace”
athisorhercenter.TheSanskritworddukhaisderivedfromdus(meaning“bad”)andkha(meaning“space”).Itisgenerally
translatedas“suffering”;also,“uneasy,”“uncomfortable,”“unpleasant,”and“difficult.”
YogaAnatomy tissue.Theforcerequired(callednegativeinspiratoryforce)isthreetofourtimesgreater
YogaAnatomy
tissue.Theforcerequired(callednegativeinspiratoryforce)isthreetofourtimesgreater
thanthatofanormalinhalation.
Anotherfirst­timeexperiencethatoccursatthemomentofbirthistheweightofthebody
inspace.Insidethewomb,you’reinaweightless,fluid­filledenvironment.Then,suddenly,
yourentireuniverseexpandsbecauseyou’reout—you’refree.Now,yourbodycanmove
freelyinspace,yourlimbsandheadcanmovefreelyinrelationtoyourbody,andyoumust
besupportedingravity.Becauseadultsareperfectlywillingtoswaddlebabiesandmove
themfromplacetoplace,stabilityandmobilitymaynotseemtobemuchofanissueso
earlyinlife,buttheyare.Thefactis,rightawayyouhavetostartdoingsomething—you
havetofindnourishment,whichinvolvesthecomplexactionofsimultaneouslybreathing,
sucking,andswallowing.Allofthemusclesinvolvedinthisintricateactofsurvivalalso
createyourfirstposturalskill—supportingtheweightofthehead.Thisnecessarilyinvolves
thecoordinatedactionofmanymuscles,and—aswithallposturalskills—abalancingact
betweenmobilizationandstabilization.Posturaldevelopmentcontinuesfromthehead
downward,untilyoubeginwalking(afteraboutayear),culminatingwiththecompletion
ofyourlumbarcurve(atabout10yearsofage).
Tosummarize,themomentyou’reborn,you’reconfrontedbytwoforcesthatwerenot
presentinutero:breathandgravity.Tothrive,youneedtoreconcilethoseforcesforaslong
asyoudrawbreathonthisplanet.Thepracticeofyogacanbeseenasawayofconsciously
exploringtherelationshipbetweenbreathandposture,soit’sclearthatyogacanhelpyou
todealwiththisfundamentalchallenge.
Tousethelanguageofyoga,lifeonthisplanetrequiresanintegratedrelationship
betweenbreath(prana/apana)andposture(sthira/sukha).Whenthingsgowrongwith
one,bydefinitiontheygowrongwiththeother.
Theprana/apanaconceptisexploredwithafocusonthebreathingmechanism.Chapter
2coversthesthira/sukhaconceptbyfocusingonthespine.Therestofthebookexamines
howthebreathandspinecometogetherinthepracticeofyogapostures.
BreathingDefined
Breathingistheprocessoftakingairintoandexpellingitfromthelungs.Thisisagood
placetostart,butlet’sdefinethe“process”beingreferredto.Breathing—thepassageofair
intoandoutofthelungs—ismovement,oneofthefundamentalactivitiesoflivingthings.
Specifically,breathinginvolvesmovementintwocavities.
MovementinTwoCavities
Thesimplifiedillustrationofthehumanbodyinfigure1.4showsthatthetorsoconsists
oftwocavities,thethoracicandtheabdominal.Thesecavitiessharesomeproperties,and
theyhaveimportantdistinctionsaswell.Bothcontainvitalorgans:Thethoraciccontains
theheartandlungs,andtheabdominalcontainsthestomach,liver,gallbladder,spleen,
pancreas,smallandlargeintestines,kidneys,andbladder,amongothers.Bothcavitiesare
boundedposteriorlybythespine.Bothopenatoneendtotheexternalenvironment—the
thoracicatthetop,andtheabdominalatthebottom.Bothshareanimportantstructure,the
diaphragm(itformstheroofoftheabdominalcavityandthefloorofthethoraciccavity).
Anotherimportantsharedpropertyofthetwocavitiesisthattheyaremobile—they
changeshape.Itisthisshape­changingabilitythatismostrelevanttobreathing,because
withoutthismovement,thebodycannotbreatheatall.Althoughboththeabdominaland
thoraciccavitieschangeshape,thereisanimportantstructuraldifferenceinhowtheydo
so.
Theabdominalcavitychangesshapelikeaflexible,fluid­filledstructuresuchasawater
balloon.Whenyousqueezeoneendofawaterballoon,theotherendbulges.Thatis

dynamicsofbreathing

becausewaterisnoncompressible.Your

hand’sactiononlymovesthefixedvolume

ofwaterfromoneendoftheflexible

containertotheother.Thesameprinciple

applieswhentheabdominalcavityiscom­

pressedbythemovementsofbreathing;a

squeezeinoneregionproducesabulgein

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another.Thatisbecauseinthecontextof breathing,theabdominalcavitychanges shape,butnotvolume.
another.Thatisbecauseinthecontextof
breathing,theabdominalcavitychanges
shape,butnotvolume.
Inthecontextoflifeprocessesother
thanbreathing,theabdominalcavitydoes
changevolume.Ifyoudrinkagallonof
liquidoreatabigmeal,theoverallvolume
oftheabdominalcavitywillincreaseas
aresultofexpandedabdominalorgans
(stomach,intestines,bladder).Any
increaseofvolumeintheabdominalcavity
willproduceacorrespondingdecreasein
thevolumeofthethoraciccavity.That
Figure1.4Breathingisthoracoabdominalshape iswhyit’shardertobreatheafterabig
change.Inhalationonleft,exhalationonright.
meal,beforeabigbowelmovement,or
whenpregnant.
Incontrasttotheabdominalcavity,thethoraciccavitychangesbothshapeandvolume;it
behavesasaflexiblegas­filledcontainer,similartoanaccordionbellows.Whenyousqueeze
anaccordion,youcreateareductioninthevolumeofthebellowsandairisforcedout.When
youpullthebellowsopen,itsvolumeincreasesandtheairispulledin.Thisisbecausethe
accordioniscompressibleandexpandable.Thesameistrueofthethoraciccavity,which,
unliketheabdominalcavityanditscontents,canchangeitsshapeandvolume.
VolumeandPressure
Volumeandpressureareinverselyrelated:Whenvolumeincreases,pressuredecreases,
andwhenvolumedecreases,pressureincreases.Becauseairalwaysflowstowardareasof
lowerpressure,increasingthevolumeinsidethethoraciccavity(thinkofanaccordion)will
decreasepressureandcauseairtoflowintoit.Thisisaninhalation.
Itisinterestingtonotethatinspiteofhowitfeelswhenyouinhale,youarenotpulling
airintothebody.Onthecontrary,airispushedintothebodybyatmosphericpressurethat
alwayssurroundsyou.Theactualforcethatgetsairintothelungsisoutsideofthebody.
Theenergyyouexpendinbreathingproducesashapechangethatlowersthepressure
inyourchestcavityandpermitstheairtobepushedintothebodybytheweightofthe
planet’satmosphere.
Let’snowimaginethethoracicandabdominalcavitiesasanaccordionstackedontopofa
waterballoon.Thisillustrationgivesasenseoftherelationshipofthetwocavitiesinbreath­
ing;movementinonewillnecessarilyresultinmovementintheother.Recallthatduring
aninhalation(theshapechangepermittingairtobepushedintothelungsbytheplanet’s
atmosphericpressure),thethoraciccavityexpandsitsvolume.Thispushesdownwardon
theabdominalcavity,whichchangesshapeasaresultofthepressurefromabove.
Duringrelaxed,quietbreathing(suchaswhilesleeping),anexhalationisapassivereversal
ofthisprocess.Thethoraciccavityandlungtissue—whichhavebeenstretchedopenduring
theinhalation—springbacktotheirinitialvolume,pushingtheairoutandreturningthe
thoraciccavitytoitspreviousshape.Thisisreferredtoasapassiverecoil.Anyreduction

YogaAnatomy

intheelasticityofthesetissueswillresultinareductionofthebody’sabilitytoexhalepas­

sively—leadingtoahostofrespiratoryproblems.

Inbreathingpatternsthatinvolveactiveexhaling(suchasblowingoutcandles,speak­

ing,andsinging,aswellasvariousyogaexercises),themusculaturesurroundingthetwo

cavitiescontractsinsuchawaythattheabdominalcavityispushedupwardintothetho­

raciccavity,orthethoraciccavityispusheddownwardintotheabdominalcavity,orany

combinationofthetwo.

Three­DimensionalShapeChangesofBreathing

Becausethelungsoccupyathree­dimensionalspaceinthethoraciccavity,whenthisspace changesshapetocauseairmovement,itchangesshapethree­dimensionally.Specifically, aninhalationinvolvesthechestcavityincreasingitsvolumefromtoptobottom,fromside toside,andfromfronttoback,andanexhalationinvolvesareductionofvolumeinthose

threedimensions(seefigure1.5).

a

b

Figure1.5Three­dimensionalthoracicshapechangesof(a)inhalationand(b)exhalation.

Becausethoracicshapechangeis

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inextricablylinkedtoabdominalshape change,youcanalsosaythatthe abdominalcavityalsochangesshape
inextricablylinkedtoabdominalshape change,youcanalsosaythatthe
abdominalcavityalsochangesshape
(notvolume)inthreedimensions—it
canbepushedorpulledfromtopto
bottom,fromsidetoside,orfromfront
toback(seefigure1.6).Inaliving,
breathingbody,thoracicshapechange
cannothappenwithoutabdominalshape
change.Thatiswhytheconditionofthe
abdominalregionhassuchaninfluence
onthequalityofyourbreathingand
whythequalityofyourbreathinghas
apowerfuleffectonthehealthofyour
abdominalorgans.
Figure1.6Changesinabdominalshape
duringbreathing:(a)Inhalation=spinal
a
b
extension;(b)exhalation=spinalflexion.
dynamicsofbreathing ExpandedDefinitionofBreathing
dynamicsofbreathing
ExpandedDefinitionofBreathing
Basedontheinformationyouhavesofar,here’sanexpandeddefinitionofbreathing:
Breathing,theprocessoftakingairintoandexpellingitfromthelungs,iscausedbya
three­dimensionalchangingofshapeinthethoracicandabdominalcavities.
Definingbreathinginthismannerexplainsnotonlywhatitisbutalsohowitisdone.
Thishasprofoundimplicationsforyogapractice,becauseitcanleadyoutoexaminethe
supporting,shape­changingstructurethatoccupiesthebackofthebody’stwoprimary
cavities—thespine,whichiscoveredinchapter2.
Tounderstandhowasinglemuscle,thediaphragm,iscapableofproducingallthismove­
ment,younowexamineitindetail.
Diaphragm’sRoleinBreathing
Justabouteveryanatomybookdescribesthediaphragmastheprincipalmuscleofbreathing.
Addthediaphragmtotheshape­changedefinitionofbreathingtobeginyourexploration
ofthisremarkablemuscle:
Thediaphragmistheprincipalmusclethatcausesthree­dimensionalshapechangein
thethoracicandabdominalcavities.
Tounderstandhowthediaphragmcausesthisshapechange,youwillexamineitsshape
andlocationinthebody,whereit’sattached,andwhatisattachedtoit,aswellasitsaction
andrelationshiptotheothermusclesofbreathing.
ShapeandLocation
Thediaphragmdividesthetorsointothethoracicandabdominalcavities.Itisthefloorof
thethoraciccavityandtheroofoftheabdominalcavity.Itsstructureextendsthrougha
widesectionofthebody—theuppermostpartreachesthespacebetweenthethirdand
fourthribs,anditslowestfibersattachtothefrontofthethirdlumbarvertebra;“nippleto
navel”isonewaytodescribeit.
Thedeeplydomedshapeofthediaphragmhasevoked
manyimages.Someofthemostcommonareamushroom,a
jellyfish,aparachute,andahelmet.It’simportanttonotethat
theshapeofthediaphragmiscreatedbytheorgansitencloses
andsupports.Deprivedofitsrelationshipwiththoseorgans,its
domewouldcollapse,muchlikeastockingcapwithoutahead
init.Itisalsoevidentthatthediaphragmhasanasymmetrical
double­domeshape,withtherightdomerisinghigherthanthe
left.Thisisbecausetheliverpushesupfrombelowtheright
dome,andtheheartpushesdownfromabovetheleftdome.
OriginandInsertion
Theloweredgesofthediaphragm’scircumferenceoriginate
fromthreedistinctregions:thebottomofthesternum,thebase
oftheribcage,andthefrontofthelowerspine(seefigure1.7).
Thesethreeregionsformacontinuousrimofattachmentfor
thediaphragm.Theonlybonycomponentsofthisrimarethe
backofthexiphoidprocessandthefrontsurfacesofthefirst
threelumbarvertebrae.Themajorityofthediaphragm(over
90percent)originatesonflexibletissue:thecostalcartilageof
ribs6through10andthearcuateligaments,whichbridgethe Figure1.7Originand
spanfromthe10thrib’scartilagetothefloating11thand12th insertionofthediaphragm
ribsandfromtheretothespine.
muscle.

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Allthemuscularfibersofthediaphragmriseupwardinthebodyfromtheirorigins.They
Allthemuscularfibersofthediaphragmriseupwardinthebodyfromtheirorigins.They
eventuallyarriveattheflattened,horizontaltopofthemuscle,thecentraltendon,into
whichtheyinsert.Inessence,thediaphragminsertsintoitself—itsowncentraltendon,
whichisfibrousnoncontractiletissue.
OrganicConnections
Thecentraltendonofthediaphragmisapointofanchoragefortheconnectivetissuethat
surroundsthethoracicandabdominalorgans.Thenamesoftheseimportantstructuresare
easilyrememberedasthethreePs.
•Pleura,whichsurroundthelungs
•Pericardium,whichsurroundstheheart
•Peritoneum,whichsurroundstheabdominalorgans
Thus,itshouldbeclearthattheshape­changingactivityofthesecavitieshasaprofound
effectonthemovementsoftheorganstheycontain.Thediaphragmistheprimarysource
ofthesemovements,andtherelationshipofitshealthyfunctioningtothewell­beingof
theorgansisanatomicallyevident.
Actions
Itisimportanttorememberthatthemuscularfibersofthediaphragmareorientedprimarily
alongthevertical(up­down)axisofthebody,andthisisthedirectionofthemuscularaction
ofthemuscle.Recallthatthehorizontalcentraltendonisnoncontractileandcanmoveonly
inresponsetotheactionofthemuscularfibers,whichinsertintoit(seefigure1.8).
Asinanyothermuscle,thecontractingfibersofthediaphragmpullitsinsertionand
origin(thecentraltendonandthebaseoftheribcage)towardeachother.Thismuscle
actionisthefundamentalcauseofthethree­dimensionalthoracoabdominalshapechanges
ofbreathing.
Tounderstandthisfactmoredeeply,thequestionofwhetheroriginmovestowardinser­
tion,orinsertionmovestowardorigin,needstobeclarified.Aswithallmuscles,thetype
ofmovementthediaphragmproduceswill
dependonwhichendofthemuscleisstable
andwhichismobile.Touseanexampleof
anothermuscle,thepsoasmusclecancreate
hipflexioneitherbymovingthelegtoward
thefrontofthespine(asinstandingonone
legandflexingtheotherhip)orbymoving
thefrontofthespinetowardtheleg(asin
sit­upswiththelegsbraced).Inbothcases,
thepsoasmuscleisdoingthesamething—
contracting.Whatdiffersiswhichendofthe
muscleisstableandwhichismobile.
Justasyoucanthinkofthepsoasas
eithera“legmover”ora“trunkmover,”
youcanthinkofthediaphragmaseither
a“bellybulger”ora“ribcagelifter”(see
Figure1.8Themusclefibersofthedia­
phragmallrunverticallyfromtheiroriginsto figure1.9).Themuscularactionofthe
theirinsertiononthecentraltendon.
diaphragmismostoftenassociatedwitha

dynamicsofbreathing

bulging 7 movementintheupperabdomen, whichiscommonlyreferredtoasa“belly

breath,”butthisisonlythecaseifthe diaphragm’sorigin(thebaseoftheribcage) isstableanditsinsertion(thecentraltendon)

ismobile(seefigure1.10a).

Ifthecentraltendonisstabilizedand theribsarefreetomove,adiaphragmatic contractionwillcauseanexpansionofthe

ribcage(seefigure1.10b).Thisisa“chest

breath,”whichmanypeoplebelievemust

becausedbytheactionofmusclesother

thanthediaphragm.Thismistakenideacan

createafalsedichotomybetweendiaphrag­

maticand“nondiaphragmatic”breathing.

Theunfortunateresultofthiserroristhat

manypeoplereceivingbreathtrainingwho

exhibitchestmovement(ratherthanbelly

movement)aretoldthattheyarenotusing

thediaphragm,whichisfalse.Exceptin

a

b

Figure1.9Thediaphragmcanbe(a)a“belly

casesofparalysis,thediaphragmisalways bulger,”duringthebellyinhalation,or(b)a“rib

usedforbreathing.Theissueiswhetheritis cagelifter,duringthechestinhalation. beingusedefficiently.

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Centraltendon a b Figure1.10(a)Withtheribstableandtheabdominalsrelaxed,thediaphragm’scontraction
Centraltendon
a
b
Figure1.10(a)Withtheribstableandtheabdominalsrelaxed,thediaphragm’scontraction
lowersthecentraltendon.(b)Withtheribcagerelaxedandthecentraltendonstabilizedby
abdominalaction,thecontractingdiaphragmliftstheribupward.
7 Eventhoughmostteachersrefertothisdiaphragmaticactionasan“expansion”oftheabdomen,thisisincorrect.Inthe
contextofbreathing,theabdominalcavitydoesnotchangevolume—onlyshape;thereforeitismoreaccuratetorefertothis
movementasa“bulging”oftheupperabdomen.

10

YogaAnatomy

Ifitwerepossibletoreleaseallofthediaphragm’sstabilizingmusclesandallowitsorigin

andinsertiontofreelymovetowardeachother,boththechestandabdomenwouldmove

simultaneously.Thisrarelyoccursbecausetheneedtostabilizethebody’smassingravity

willcausemanyoftherespiratorystabilizingmuscles(whicharealsoposturalmuscles)to

remainactivethroughallphasesofbreathing.

EngineofThree­DimensionalShapeChange

Thediaphragmistheprimemoverofthethoracicandabdominalcavities.Thespecific

patternsthatariseinyogaasanapracticeorbreathingexercises,however,resultfromthe

actionofmusclesotherthanthediaphragmthatcanchangetheshapeofthecavities.

Thesearecalledaccessorymuscles.Theanalogyofacaranditsengineisveryusefulin

explainingthisprinciple.

Theengineistheprimemoverofthecar.Allthemovementsassociatedwithacar’s

operation(includingtheelectrical)aregeneratedintheengine.Inthesamemanner,the

three­dimensional,thoracoabdominalshapechangeofbreathingisprimarilygeneratedby

thediaphragm.

Whenyoudrive,theonlydirectcontrolyouexertoverthefunctionoftheengineisthe

speedofitsspinning.Youpushthegaspedaltomaketheenginespinfaster,andyourelease

thepedaltomakeitspinslower.Similarly,theonlydirectvolitionalcontrolyouhaveover

thediaphragmisitstiming.

Youdon’tsteeryourcarwithitsengine.Tocontrolthepoweroftheengineandguide

itinaparticulardirection,youneedthemechanismsofthetransmission,brakes,steering,

andsuspension.Inthesameway,youdon’t“steer”yourbreathingwiththediaphragm.To

controlthepowerofthebreath,andguideitintospecificpatterns,youneedtheassistance

oftheaccessorymuscles.

Fromthestandpointofthisengineanalogy,thewholenotionof“diaphragmatictraining”

asawaytoimprovebreathfunctionisflawed.Afterall,youdon’tbecomeabetterdriver

bylearningonlyhowtoworkthegaspedal.Mostoftheskillsyouacquireindrivertraining

havetodowithgettingtheaccelerationofthecartocoordinatewithsteering,braking,and

shiftinggears.Inasimilarway,breathtrainingisreally“accessorymuscletraining.”Once

alltheothermusculatureofthebodyiscoordinatedandintegratedwiththeactionofthe

diaphragm,breathingwillbeefficientandeffective.

Additionally,thenotionthatthatdiaphragmaticactionislimitedtoabdominalbulging

(bellybreathing)isasinaccurateasassertingthatacar’sengineisonlycapableofmaking

itgoforward—andthatsomeothersourceofpowermustgovernreversemovement.Just

asthisautomotiveerrorislinkedtonotunderstandingtherelationshipofthecar’sengine

toitstransmission,thebreathingerrorresultsfromnotunderstandingtherelationshipof

thediaphragmtotheaccessorymuscles.

Moreover,equatingbellymovementwithproperbreathingandchestmovementwith

improperbreathingisjustassillyasstatingthatacarisbestservedbyonlydrivingforward

atalltimes.Withouttheabilitytoreverseitsmovements,acarwouldeventuallyendup

someplaceitcouldn’tgetoutof.

AccessoryMusclesofRespiration

Althoughthereisuniversalagreementthatthediaphragmistheprincipalmuscleofbreath­ ing,therearevarious,sometimesconflictingwaysofcategorizingtheothermusclesthat participateinbreathing.Usingthedefinitionofbreathingasthoracoabdominalshapechange, youcandefineanymuscleotherthanthediaphragmthatcancauseashapechangeinthe

cavitiesasaccessory(seefigures1.11and1.12forexample).It’sirrelevantwhetherthe

shapechangeleadstoanincreaseoradecreaseofthoracicvolume(inhalationorexhala­

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dynamicsofbreathing 11
dynamicsofbreathing 11 tion),becausebothsetsofmusclescanbeactiveduringanyphaseofbreathing.Anexample
dynamicsofbreathing
11
tion),becausebothsetsofmusclescanbeactiveduringanyphaseofbreathing.Anexample
wouldbetheanalysisofabellybreathorachestbreath.
Inthebellybreath,thecostalcircumference(origin)ofthediaphragmisstabilizedbythe
musclesthatpulltheribcagedownward:theinternalintercostals,thetransversusthoracis,
andothers(seefigures1.13to1.16).Thesemusclesareuniversallyclassifiedas“exhaling
muscles,”butheretheyactivelyparticipateinshapinganinhalation.Inthechestbreath,
thecentraltendon(insertion)ofthediaphragmisstabilizedbytheabdominalmuscles,also
regardedas“exhalingmuscles,”butinthiscase,theyareclearlyactingtoproduceapattern
ofinhaling.Itshouldbenotedthatinbothofthesecases,oneregionofaccessorymuscle
hastoberelaxedwhiletheotherisactive.Inthebellybreath,theabdominalwallreleases,
andinthechestbreath,theribcagedepressorshavetoletgo.
Contract
Relax
a
Inhalation
b
Neutral
c
Exhalation
Figure1.11Theintercostalmusclesassisttheslidingactionoftheribsduringrespiration.During
inhalation(a),theexternalintercostalscontract,andtheinternalintercostalsrelax.Duringexhala­
tion(c),theoppositeoccurs.
a
Inhalation
b
Neutral
c Exhalation
Figure1.12Contrarytoappearances,theintercostalspacesremainconstantduringrespiratory
movements.Rather,theribsslideinrelationtoeachother—asindicatedbythemisaligningofthe
redline.
AbdominalandThoracicAccessoryMuscles
Theabdominalcavityanditsmusculaturecanbeimaginedasawaterballoonsurrounded
onallsidesbyelasticfibersrunninginalldirections.Theshorteningandlengtheningof
thesefibersincoordinationwiththecontractionsofthediaphragmproducetheinfinitely
variableshapechangesassociatedwithrespiration.Asthetoneofthediaphragmincreases
(inhalation),thetoneofsomeabdominalmusclesmustdecreasetoallowthediaphragmto
move.Ifyoucontractallyourabdominalmusclesatonceandtrytoinhale,you’llnoticethat
it’squitedifficultbecauseyou’velimitedtheabilityofyourabdomentochangeshape.

12

YogaAnatomy

Theabdominalgroupdoesn’taffectbreathingonlybylimitingorpermittingshapechange intheabdominalcavity.Becausetheyalsoattachdirectlytotheribcage,theabdominal musclesdirectlyaffectitsabilitytoexpand. Theabdominalmusclesthathavethemostdirecteffectonbreathingaretheonesthat

originateatthesameplaceasthediaphragm,thetransversusabdominis(seefigure1.13).

Thisdeepestlayeroftheabdominalwallarisesfromthecostalcartilageatthebaseofthe ribcage’sinnersurface.Thefibersofthetransversusareinterdigitated(interwoven)atright angleswiththoseofthediaphragm,whosefibersascendvertically,whereasthoseofthe

transversusrunhorizontally(seefigure1.14).Thismakesthetransversusabdoministhe

directantagonisttothediaphragm’sactionofexpandingtheribcage.Thesamelayerof horizontalfibersextendsupwardintotheposteriorthoracicwallasthetranversusthoracis, adepressorofthesternum. Theotherlayersoftheabdominalwallhavesimilarcounterpartsinthethoraciccavity.The externalobliquesturnintotheexternalintercostals,andtheinternalobliquesturnintothe

internalintercostals(seefigure1.13).Ofallthesethoracoabdominallayersofmuscle,only

theexternalintercostalsarecapableofincreasingthoracicvolume.Alltheothersproduce

areductionofthoracicvolume—eitherbydepressingtheribcageorpushingupwardon

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thecentraltendonofthediaphragm. Figure1.13Thecontinuityoftheabdominalandintercostallayersshowshowtheexternal
thecentraltendonofthediaphragm.
Figure1.13Thecontinuityoftheabdominalandintercostallayersshowshowtheexternal
obliquesturnintotheexternalintercostals,internalobliquesturnintotheinternalintercostals,and
thetransversusabdoministurnsintothetransversusthoracisandinnermostintercostals.
Transversusthorasis
Transversusabdominis
Figure1.14Posteriorviewofthechestwall,showingtheinterdigitatedoriginsofthediaphragmand
transversusabdominisformingperfectrightangleswitheachother.Thisisclearlyanagonist/antago­
nist,inhale/exhalemusclepairingthatstructurallyunderliestheyogicconceptsofprana/apana.

dynamicsofbreathing

13

OtherAccessoryMuscles

Chest,neck,andbackmusclescanexpandtherib

cage(seefigures1.15and1.16),buttheyarefar

moreinefficientthanthediaphragmandexternal

intercostalsatdoingthis.Thisinefficiencyisthe

resultofthefactthatthelocationandattachment

ofthesemusclesdonotprovideenoughleverage

ontheribcage,andtheusualroleofthesemus­

clesisnotrespiration.Theyareprimarilyneck,

shouldergirdle,andarmmobilizers—actionsthat

requirethemtobestableproximally(towardthe

coreofthebody)andmobiledistally(toward

theperipheryofthebody).Forthesemuscles

toexpandtheribcage,thisrelationshipmustbe

reversed—thedistalinsertionsmustbestabilized

byyetmoremusclessotheproximaloriginscan

bemobilized.

Consideringthedegreeofmusculartension

thataccessorybreathingentails,thenetpayoff

inoxygenationmakesitapoorenergeticinvest­

ment.Thatiswhyimprovedbreathingisreally

aresultofdecreasedtensionintheaccessory

mechanism,whichallowsthediaphragm,withits toreducethoracicvolume,whilered shape­changingability,tooperateasefficiently

aspossible.

Figure1.15Someoftheaccessory

musclesofrespiration:Bluemusclesact

muscleshelptoincreasethoracicvolume.

TheOtherTwoDiaphragms

Alongwiththerespiratorydiaphragm,breathing involvesthecoordinatedactionofthepelvicand vocaldiaphragms.Ofparticularinteresttoyoga practitionersistheactionofmulabandha,which isaliftingactionproducedinthepelvicfloor

muscles(showninfigure1.17,aandb)thatalso

includesthelowerfibersofthedeepabdominal

layers.Mulabandhaisanactionthatmoves

apanaupwardandstabilizesthecentraltendon

ofthediaphragm.Inhalingwhilethisbandhais

activerequiresareleaseoftheattachmentsof

theupperabdominalwall,whichpermitsthe

diaphragmtoliftthebaseoftheribcageupward.

Thisactionisreferredtoasuddiyanabandha

(uddiyameans“flyingupward”).

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It’simportanttonotethatthemoresuperficial muscularfibersoftheperineumneednotbe involvedinmulabandha,becausetheycontain
It’simportanttonotethatthemoresuperficial
muscularfibersoftheperineumneednotbe
involvedinmulabandha,becausetheycontain
theanalandurethralsphincters,whichareasso­
ciatedwiththedownwardmovementofapana
(eliminationofsolidandliquidwaste),asshown
Figure1.16Theserratusposteriormus­
cles:superior(red)assistthoracicvolume
expansion,inferior(blue)assistthoracic
infigure1.18.
volumereduction.
14 YogaAnatomy a b Figure1.17(a)Thedeepestmusclesofthepelvicdiaphragm,fromabove.(b)Thepelvicfloor
14
YogaAnatomy
a
b
Figure1.17(a)Thedeepestmusclesofthepelvicdiaphragm,fromabove.(b)Thepelvicfloor
frombelow,showingtheorientationofsuperficialanddeeperlayers.Themoresuperficialthelayer,
themoreitrunsfromsidetoside(ischiatoischia);thedeeperthelayer,themoreitrunsfrontto
back(pubicjointtococcyx).
Figure1.18Theactionofthemoresuperficialperinealfibers(figure1.17b)areassociatedwith
theanalandurogenitalsphinctersandthedownwardmovementofapana(i.e.,theelimination
ofsolidandliquidwaste).Theactionofdeeperfibersofthepelvicdiaphragm(figure1.17a)are
associatedwiththeupwardmovementofapana(i.e.,theeliminationofgaseouswastethrough
exhalation).
VocalDiaphragm
Thegatewaytotherespiratorypassagesistheglottis,showninfigure1.19,whichisnota
structurebutaspacebetweenthevocalfolds(cords).Yogapractitionersareaccustomed
toregulatingthisspaceinvariousways,basedonwhattheyaredoingwiththeirbreath,
voice,andposture.Whenatrest,themusclesthatcontrolthevocalcordscanberelaxed
sothattheglottisisbeingneitherrestrictednorenlarged(seefigure1.20a).Thisoccursin
sleepandinthemorerestful,restorativepracticesinyoga.
Whendoingbreathingexercisesthatinvolvedeep,rapidmovementsofbreath(suchas
kapalabhatiorbhastrika),themusclesthatpullthevocalfoldsapartcontracttocreatea
largerpassagefortheairmovements(seefigure1.20b).Whentheexercisescallforlong,
deep,slowbreaths,theglottiscanbepartiallyclosed,withonlyasmallopeningattheback
ofthecords(seefigure1.20c).Thisisthesameactionthatcreateswhisperedspeech;in
yogait’sknownasujjayi, 8 “thevictoriousbreath.”
8 Udenotesudana,whichreferstotheupwardflowingpranainthethroatregion.Jayameans“victory.”

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Figure1.19Thepathwayofair(inblue)intoandoutofthelungs. a b d c
Figure1.19Thepathwayofair(inblue)intoandoutofthelungs.
a
b
d
c
Figure1.20Positionandlocationofvocalfolds:(a)relaxedposition,(b)maximalopeningfor
forcedrespiration,(c)slightlyopenedforwhisperedspeech(orujjayi),(d)closedforspeaking
(phonation).
Whenmakingsoundandduringthechantingpracticesofyoga,thecordsarepulled
togetherintothephonationposition(seefigure1.20d).Theairpushingitswaythrough
themvibrates,creatingsound.Thepitch(andtosomeextentthelength)ofthesoundis
determinedbyhowmuchtensionisusedtoholdthecordstogether.

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YogaAnatomy

TheBandhas

Allthreediaphragms(pelvic,respiratory,andvocal)plusujjayicometogetherinyogamove­ mentsthatarecoordinatedwithinhalingandexhaling.Inadditiontogivingmorelengthand texturetothebreath,the“valve”ofujjayicreatesakindofbackpressurethroughoutthe abdominalandthoraciccavitiesthatcanprotectthespineduringthelong,slowflexionand extensionmovementsthatoccurinvinyasassuchasthesunsalutations.Inyogicterms,these actionsofthediaphragms(bandhas)createmoresthira(stability)inthebody,protecting itfrominjurybyredistributingmechanicalstress.Anadditionaleffectofmovingthebody throughthisresistanceisthecreationofheatinthesystem,whichcanbeusedinmany beneficialways.Thesepracticesarereferredtoasbrahmana, 9 whichimpliesheat,expan­ sion,andthedevelopmentofpowerandstrengthaswellastheabilitytowithstandstress. Brahmanaisalsoassociatedwithinhaling,nourishment,prana,andthechestregion. Whenrelaxingthebodyinthemoresupported,horizontal,restorativepractices,remember toreleasethebandhasandglottalconstrictionsthatareassociatedwithverticalpostural support.Thisrelaxingsideofyogaembodiesthequalitiesoflanghana, 10 whichisassoci­ atedwithcoolness,condensation,relaxation,andreleaseaswellasthedevelopmentof sensitivityandinwardfocus.Langhanaisalsoassociatedwithexhaling,elimination,apana, andtheabdominalregion. Becausetheultimategoalofyogabreathtrainingistofreeupthesystemfromhabitual, dysfunctionalrestrictions,thefirstthingyouneedtodoisfreeyourselffromtheideathat there’sasinglerightwaytobreathe.Asusefulasthebandhasarewhensupportingyour centerofgravityandmovingthespinethroughspace,youneedtoreleasetheforcesof sthirainthesystemwhenpursuingtherelaxationandreleaseofsukha. Ifyogapracticeleadsyoutomoreintegrated,balancedbreathing,it’sbecauseittrains yourbodytofreelyrespondtothedemandsthatyouplaceonitinthevariouspositions andactivitiesthatmakeupyourdailylife.

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9 TheSanskritrootbrhcanmean“togrowgreatorstrong,”“increase,”“tomakebigorfatorstrong,”and“expand.” 10
9 TheSanskritrootbrhcanmean“togrowgreatorstrong,”“increase,”“tomakebigorfatorstrong,”and“expand.”
10 LanghanaisatermthatoriginatesinAyurveda,theancientIndiansystemofmedicine,anditreferstopracticessuchas
fastingthatreduce,oreliminate,elementsfromthesystem.
yogaandthespine 2 hecentralnervoussystem,withitscomplexsensoryandmotorfunctions,allowsfor T
yogaandthespine
2
hecentralnervoussystem,withitscomplexsensoryandmotorfunctions,allowsfor
T anenormousamountofflexibilityinavertebrate’ssurvivalactivities.Asthesesystems
evolvedovermillionsofyearsandbecamemorecrucialtothesurvivalofourearlyances­
tors,theyrequiredthecorrespondingdevelopmentofaprotectivestructurethatallowsfor
freemovementbutisstableenoughtoofferprotectiontothesevitalyetdelicatetissues.
Thatstructure,theskeletalspine,isperhapsnature’smostelegantandintricatesolutionto
thedualdemandsofsthiraandsukha.
Thehumanspineisuniqueamongallmammalsinthat
itexhibitsbothprimaryandsecondarycurves.Theprimary
Cervical
curveofthespinecomprisesthekyphoticthoracicand
sacralcurves;thesecondary,lordoticcurvesarepresent
inthecervicalandlumbarregions(seefigure2.1).Onlya
truebipedrequiresbothpairsofcurves;tree­swingingand
knuckle­walkingprimateshavesomecervicalcurve,butno
lumbarlordosis,whichiswhytheycan’twalkcomfortably
ontwolegsforlong.
Theprimary(kyphotic)curvewasthefirstfront­back 1
spinalcurvetoemergeasaquaticcreaturesmadethetran­
sitiontoland.Asahumanawaitsitsemergencefromits
wateryoriginsinutero,theentirespineisinaprimarycurve
Thoracic
(seefigure2.2).Itchangesshapeforthefirsttimewhenthe
headnegotiatesthehairpincurveofthebirthcanalandthe
neckexperiencesitssecondary(lordotic)curveforthevery
firsttime 2 (seefigure2.3).
Asyourposturaldevelopmentproceedsfromthehead
downward,thecervicalcurvecontinuestodevelopafteryou
learntoholduptheweightofyourheadataboutthreeto
fourmonthsandfullyformsataroundninemonths,when
Lumbar
youlearntositupright(seefigure2.4).
Aftercrawlingandcreepingonthefloorformonths,you
mustacquirealumbarcurvetobringyourweightoverthe
Sacral
feet.At12to18months,asyoubegintowalk,thelumbar
spinestraightensoutfromitsprimary,kyphoticcurve.By
3yearsofage,thelumbarspinestartstobecomeconcave
forward(lordotic),althoughthiswon’tbeoutwardlyvisible
until6to8yearsofage.Itisonlyaftertheageof10that Figure2.1Thecurvesofthe
thelumbarcurvefullyassumesitsadultshape. spinalcolumn.
1 Thelateralundulationsthatpropelfish,snakes,andlizardsthroughtheirenvironmentsceasetobeusefulforacreaturethat
supportsitsbellyoffthegroundonfourlimbs.Thesuccessfulearlyquadrupedswouldhavebeenthosethatarchedtheirbellies
awayfromtheearthsothattheirweight­bearingandmovementforcesweredistributedintothelimbsandawayfromthe
vulnerablecenterofthespine.
2 Thisparallelsthefactthatthecervicalspinewasthesiteofthefirstdevelopmentofasecondarycurveasourquadrupedal
ancestorsfoundasurvivalbenefittoliftingtheirheadsandgazingfromthegroundimmediatelyinfrontofthem,outtothe
horizon.
17

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Figure2.2Theentirespineexhibitingthepri­ Figure2.3Thefirstemergenceofthesecond­ marycurveinutero.
Figure2.2Theentirespineexhibitingthepri­ Figure2.3Thefirstemergenceofthesecond­
marycurveinutero.
arycurve:negotiatingthe90­degreeturnfrom
thecervixintothevaginalpassage.
Birth
3to9months 1to3years 6to10years
Figure2.4Developmentofprimaryandsecondarycurves.
Thefullgloryofnature’singenuityisapparentinthehumanspine—moresothaninany
othervertebratestructure.Fromanengineeringperspective,it’sclearthathumanshavethe
smallestbaseofsupport,thehighestcenterofgravity,andtheheaviestbrain(proportional
tototalbodyweight 3 )ofanyothermammal.Astheonlytruebipedmammalsontheplanet,
humansarealsoearth’sleastmechanicallystablecreatures.Fortunately,thedisadvantage
ofhavingabowling­ball­weightedcraniumbalancingontopofthewholesystemisoffset
bytheadvantageofhavingthatbigbrain;itcanfigureouthowtomakethewholething
workefficiently—andthat’swhereyogacanhelp.
Thehumanformingeneral,andthespineinparticular,exhibitsanextraordinaryresolu­
tionbetweenthecontradictoryrequirementsofrigidityandplasticity.Asyouwillseein
thenextsection,thestructuralbalancingoftheforcesofsthiraandsukhainyourliving
bodyrelatestoaprinciplecalledintrinsicequilibrium—adeepsourceofsupportthatcan
beuncoveredthroughyogapractice.
3 Thebluewhalehasthebiggestbrainontheplanet,butitcomprisesonly.01percentofitstotalbodyweight.Humanstopthe
listat1.9percent,withtherataclosesecondat1.5percent.

yogaandthespine

19

IntrinsicEquilibrium

Ifyouweretoremoveallthemusclesthatattachtothespine,itstillwouldnotcollapse.

Why?Intrinsicequilibriumistheconceptthatexplainsnotonlywhythespineisaself­

supportingstructurebutalsowhyanyspinalmovementproducespotentialenergythat

returnsthespinetoneutral.Thesamearrangementexistsintheribcageandpelvis,which,

likethespine,areboundtogetherundermechanicaltension.Thisfactaboutthecore

structuresoftheaxialskeletonrevealsadeepertruthabouthowyogapracticeappearsto

liberatepotentialenergyfromthebody.

Truetotheprinciplesofyogaandyogatherapy,themostprofoundchangesoccurwhen

theforcesobstructingthatchangearereduced.Inthecaseofintrinsicequilibrium,adeep

levelofbuilt­insupportforthecoreofthebodyisinvolved.Thisbuilt­insupportdoesnot

dependonmusculareffortbecauseitisderivedfromtherelationshipsbetweenthenon­

contractiletissuesofcartilage,ligament,andbone.Consequently,whenthissupportasserts

itself,itisalwaysbecausesomeextraneousmuscularefforthasceasedtoobstructit.

Ittakesalotofenergytofuelourconstant,unconsciousmuscularexertionsagainst

gravity,andthatiswhythereleaseofthateffortisassociatedwithafeelingofliberated

energy.Thus,itistemptingtorefertointrinsicequilibriumasasourceofenergybecauseits

discoveryisalwaysaccompaniedbyaprofoundsensationofincreasedvitalityinthebody.

Inshort,yogacanhelpyoutoreleasethestoredpotentialenergyoftheaxialskeletonby

identifyingandreleasingthelessefficientextraneousmusculareffortthatcanobstructthe

expressionofthosedeeperforces.

ElementsofLinkageBetweentheVertebrae

Thespinalcolumnasawholeisideallyconstructedtoneutralizethecombinationofcom­

pressiveandtensileforcestowhichitisconstantlysubjectedbygravityandmovement.The

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joints,andspinalligaments(shownschematicallyinblueinfigure2.5).Thisalternationof
joints,andspinalligaments(shownschematicallyinblueinfigure2.5).Thisalternationof 24vertebraeareboundtoeachotherwithinterveningzonesofcartilaginousdiscs,capsular
bonyandsofttissuestructuresrepresentsadistinctionbetweenpassiveandactiveelements;
thevertebraearethepassive,stableelements(sthira),andtheactive,movingelements
(sukha)aretheintervertebraldiscs,facet(capsular)joints,andanetworkofligamentsthat
connectthearchesofadjacentvertebrae(figure2.6).Theintrinsicequilibriumofthespinal
columncanbefoundintheintegrationofthesepassiveandactiveelements.
Figure2.5Alternatingzonesofhard
Figure2.6Ligamentsofthespine.
andsofttissueinthespinalcolumn.

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YogaAnatomy

Tounderstandtheoverallarchitectureofthespine, itisusefultoviewitastwoseparatecolumns.Inthe

schematicsideviewinfigure2.7,itsfront­to­back

dimensioncanberoughlydividedinhalfbetweena

columnofvertebralbodiesandacolumnofarches.

Functionally,thisarrangementveryclearlyevolved

tocontendwiththedualrequirementsofstabilityand

plasticity.Theanteriorcolumnofvertebralbodies

dealswithweight­bearing,compressiveforces,

whereastheposteriorcolumnofarchesdealswith

thetensileforcesgeneratedbymovement.Within

eachcolumn,inthedynamicrelationshipofboneto

softtissue,thereisabalanceofsthiraandsukha.The

vertebralbodiestransmitcompressiveforcestothe

discs,whichresistcompressionbypushingback.The Figure2.7Viewedfromtheside,

columnofarchestransmitstensionforcestoallthe

attachedligaments(figure2.8),whichresiststretch­

ingbypullingback.Inshort,thestructuralelements

ofthespinalcolumnareinvolvedinanintricatedance archesandprocesses.

thatprotectsthecentralnervoussystembyneutral­

izingtheforcesoftensionandcompression.

thespinedividedintoananterior

columnofvertebralbodiesand

discs,andaposteriorcolumnof

DiscsandLigaments

Ifyoulookdeeper,youcanalsoseehowsthiraandsukhaarerevealedinthecomponents ofanintervertebraldisc:Thetough,fibrouslayersoftheannulusfibrosistightlyenclose thesoft,sphericalnucleuspulposus.Inahealthydisc,thenucleusiscompletelycontained

allaroundbytheannulusandthevertebra(seefigure2.9).Theannulusfibrosisisitself

containedfrontandbackbytheanteriorandposteriorlongitudinalligaments,withwhich

itiscloselybonded(seefigure2.8).

Thistightlycontainedarrangementresultsinastrongtendencyforthenucleustoalways

returntothecenterofthedisc,nomatterinwhichdirectionthebody’smovementspropel

it.

Supraspinousligament

Interspinousligament

Ligamentumflavum

Facetjointcapsule

Intertransverseligament

Posteriorlongitudinalligament

Intervertebraldisc

Anteriorlongitudinalligament

a

b

Figure2.8(a)Superiorviewofspinalligaments,and(b)lateralviewofspinalligaments.

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yogaandthespine 21 VertebralStructure
yogaandthespine 21 VertebralStructure Fromthetopofthecervicalspinetothebase ofthelumbarspine,individualvertebraeare
yogaandthespine
21
VertebralStructure
Fromthetopofthecervicalspinetothebase
ofthelumbarspine,individualvertebraeare
dramaticallydifferentinshapebasedonthe
functionaldemandsofthevaryingregionsof
thespine(figure2.10).Thereare,however,
commonelementstoallvertebralstructure,
asillustratedbytheschematicrepresentation
infigure2.11.
Weight­bearingactivitiesingeneral,aswell
asaxialrotation(twistingmovements),produce
symmetrical(axial)compressiveforcesthatflat­ Figure2.9Thenucleuspulposusistightly
tenthenucleusintotheannulus,whichpushes boundbytheannulusfibrosis,whichcon­
back,resultinginadecompressivereaction(see tainsconcentricringsofobliquefibersthat
figure2.12).Ifthecompressiveforceishigh
alternatetheirdirection—similartothe
enough,ratherthanrupture,thenucleuswill internalandexternalabdominalobliques.
losesomeofitsmoisturetotheporousboneof
thevertebralbody.Whentheweightistaken
offthespine,thehydrophilicnucleusdrawsthewaterbackin,andthediscreturnstoits
originalthickness.Thatiswhyhumansareabittallerrightaftergettingoutofbed.
C1
T10
C2
T12
C3
C7
L1
T1
L5
Figure2.10Thechangingshapeofthevertebrae.
22 YogaAnatomy Vertebralbody Articularprocess Pedicle Transverseprocess Lamina Spinousprocess Intervertebraldisc
22
YogaAnatomy
Vertebralbody
Articularprocess
Pedicle
Transverseprocess
Lamina
Spinousprocess
Intervertebraldisc
Facetjoint
Figure2.11Commonelementsofavertebra’sstructure.

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a b Figure2.12Weight­bearingforces(a)aswellastwisting(b)producesymmetricalcompression
a
b
Figure2.12Weight­bearingforces(a)aswellastwisting(b)producesymmetricalcompression
(flattening)ofthenucleus,which,underpressurefromtheannulus,returnstoitssphericalshape,
thusdecompressingthevertebrae.
Themovementsofflexion,extension,andlateralflexionproduceasymmetricalmove­
mentsofthenucleus,buttheresultisthesame:Whereverthevertebralbodiesmovetoward
eachother,thenucleusispushedintheoppositedirection,whereitmeetsthecounterpush
oftheannulus,whichcausesthenucleustopushthevertebralbodiesbacktoneutral(see
figure2.13).
Assistinginthiscounterpusharethelongligamentsthatruntheentirelengthofthe
spine,frontandback.Theanteriorlongitudinalligamentrunsallthewayfromtheupper
frontofthesacrumtothefrontoftheocciput,anditisfixedtightlytothefrontsurface
ofeachintervertebraldisc.Whenitisstretchedduringbackwardbending,notonlydoes
a
b
Figure2.13Flexion(a)andextension(b)movementsproduceasymmetricalmovementsofthe
nucleus,which,underpressurefromtheannulus,returnstoacentralposition,thushelpingthe
spinetoreturntoneutral.

yogaandthespine

23

ittendtospringthebodybacktoneutral,buttheincreasedtensionatitsattachmentto

thediscalsohelpstopropelthenucleusbacktoneutral.Theoppositeactionoccursinthe

posteriorlongitudinalligamentwhenitisstretchedinaforwardbend.Itrunsfromtheback

ofthesacrumtothebackoftheocciput.

Everymovementthatproducesdisccompressionintheanteriorcolumnnecessarilyresults

intensiontocorrespondingligamentsattachedtotheposteriorcolumn.Therecoilingof

theseligamentsoutoftheirstretchedstateaddstotheotherforcesofintrinsicequilibrium,

whichcombinetoreturnthespinetoneutral.

Notethatallthisactivityoccursintissuesthatbehaveindependentlyofthecirculatory,

muscular,andvoluntarynervoussystems.Inotherwords,theiractionsdonotpresentan

energydemandontheseothersystems.

TypesofSpinalMovement

Therearegenerallythoughttobefourpossiblemovementsofthespine:flexion,exten­

sion,axialrotation(twisting),andlateralflexion(sidebending).Thesefourmovements

occurmoreorlessspontaneouslyinthecourseoflife:asyoubendovertotieyourshoes

(flexion),reachforsomethingonahighshelf

(extension),grababaginthecarseatbehind

you(axialrotation),orreachyourarmintothe

sleeveofanovercoat(lateralflexion).There

are,ofcourse,yogaposturesthatemphasize

thesemovementsaswell.

Amorethoroughlookintothenatureofthe

fourrangesofmotionofthespineshowsthat

thereisafifthpossibilitycalledaxialextension.

Thismotiondoesnthappenspontaneouslyin Figure2.14Child’sposereplicatesthepri­

thenormalcourseofdailymovements.You

havetolearnhowtomakeithappeninten­

tionallybecauseitissomewhatunnatural.

marycurveoftheunbornchild.

FlexionandExtension,the

PrimaryandSecondaryCurves,

andInhalationandExhalation

Themostbasicmovementofthespineisthe onethatemphasizesitsprimarycurve:flexion. Asdiscussedpreviously,theprimarycurveis thekyphoticcurvepresentprimarilyinthe thoracicspine,butitisalsoobviousinthe shapeofthesacrum.It’snoaccidentthatthe yogaposethatmostcompletelyexemplifies spinalflexioniscalledthechild’spose(see

figure2.14)—itreplicatestheprimarycurve

oftheunbornchild.Fromacertainperspec­

tive,allthecurvesofthebodythatareconvex

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posteriorlycanbeseenasreflectionsofthe primarycurve.Asimplewaytoidentifyall theprimarycurvesistonoticeallthepartsof
posteriorlycanbeseenasreflectionsofthe
primarycurve.Asimplewaytoidentifyall
theprimarycurvesistonoticeallthepartsof
thebodythatcontactthefloorinsavasana,
Figure2.15Incorpsepose,theprimary
orcorpsepose(seefigures2.15and2.16): curvesofthebodycontactthefloor.
24 YogaAnatomy Figure2.16Savasanaseenfrombelow,showingspinaloriginsoftheautonomicnervous
24
YogaAnatomy
Figure2.16Savasanaseenfrombelow,showingspinaloriginsoftheautonomicnervous
system—sympatheticfromthethoracicandparasympatheticfromcervicalandsacralregions.
thecurveofthebackofthehead,theupperback,thesacrum,thebacksofthethighs,the
calves,andtheheels.Consequently,thesecondarycurvesarepresentinallthebodyparts
thatareoffthefloorinthisposition:thecervicalandlumbarspine,thebacksoftheknees,
andthespaceposteriortotheAchillestendons.
Fromthisperspective,spinalflexioncanbedefinedasanincreaseintheprimaryspinal
curvesandadecreaseinthesecondaryspinalcurves.Areversalofthisdefinitionwould
definespinalextensionasanincreaseinthesecondarycurvesandadecreaseintheprimary
curves.
Notethatasfarasmovementisconcerned,therelationshipbetweentheprimaryand
secondarycurvesisreciprocal:Themoreyouincreaseordecreaseone,themoretheother
willwanttodotheopposite.Forexample,anincreaseinthoracickyphosisautomatically
producesadecreaseincervicalandlumbarlordosis.
Theclassicyogaexercisethatexploresthisreciprocalrelationshipoftheprimaryand
secondarycurvesiscat/cow,orchakravakasana(seefigure2.17).
a
Cat
b
Cow
Figure2.17Thecat/cowposeemphasizesboththeprimaryandsecondarycurves.

yogaandthespine

25

Supportedatbothendsbythearmsandthighs,thespine’scurvescanmovefreelyinboth directions,producingtheshapechangesofflexionandextension.Althoughitiscommon toteachthismovementbytellingthestudenttoexhaleonspinalflexionandinhaleon extension,itismoreaccuratetosaythatspinalflexionisanexhalationandspinalextension isaninhalation.Asthedefinitionofbreathingshows,spinalshapechangeissynonymous

withbreathingshapechange(seefigure1.6onpage6).

MovementExploration

Fromacomfortablesittingposition,tryincreasingyourthoracickyphosisbydrop­

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samemovement,butinitiateitwithyourhead;ifyoudropyourheadforward,you’ll
samemovement,butinitiateitwithyourhead;ifyoudropyourheadforward,you’ll pingyourchestforward.Noticehowyourneckandlowerbackflatten.Now,trythe
noticehowthechestandlowerspinewillfollow.Thesamewilloccurifyouinitiate
thismovementwithyourlowerspine.Youmayalsonoticethattheseflexionmove­
mentsofthespinegenerallytendtocreateanexhalation.
Goingintheoppositedirection,trydecreasingyourthoracickyphosisbyliftingyour
chest.Noticehowyourneckandlowerbackincreasetheircurves.Ifyoutryinitiating
itwithyourheadorlowerspine,theresultswillbethesame.Didyounoticehow
theseextensionmovementsofthespinetendtocreateaninhalation?
SpatialandSpinalPerspectivesinForward­andBackward­Bending
Poses
Spinalextensionisnotnecessarilythesamethingasbendingbackward,andspinalflex­
ionisnotnecessarilythesamethingasbendingforward.Inordertoavoidconfusion,it’s
importanttokeepthesedistinctionsclear.Flexionandextensionrefertotherelationship
ofthespinalcurvestoeachother,whileforwardbendingandbackwardbendingareterms
thatrefertomovementsofthebodyinspace.Thetermsarenotinterchangeable.Byway
ofillustration,picturethefollowingcontrastingexamplesofhowtwodifferentbodytypes
wouldmoveintoandoutofastandingoverheadreach:
Astiff,sedentaryofficeworker,whosestoopedposturedoesn’tchangeashishipsmove
forwardandhisarmsreachoverheadinanattempttodoastandingbackbend.Hisspine
isremaininginflexionwhilehisbodyismovingbackwardinspace.
Aflexibledancer,whohyperextendsherspinalcurvesintheoverheadreach,andkeepsher
spineextendedassheflexesforwardatthehipjointstomoveintouttanasana(standing
fboerwnda)r.dHerspineisremaininginextensionwhileherbodyisbendingforwardinspace.
Thevaluableskillinobservingmovementslikethisistheabilitytodistinguishmovement
ofthespinalcurvesinrelationtoeachotherfromthemovementsofthetorsoinspace.
Figure2.18showsmoreofanintegratedorientationtoastandingbackbend.Here,the
secondarycurvesarekeptundercontrol,andthepelvisiskeptfirmlyoverthefeet.Asaresult,
thereismuchlessmovementbackwardinspace,butagreateremphasisonthoracicextension
(reductionoftheprimarycurve).Althoughthisisnotadramaticmovementspatially,itwillactu­
allyprovideasafeandeffectivestretchtothethoracicandribstructuresandwillbeless
dtoistthuerbpinrgocessofbreathingthaneitherthedancer’sortheofficeworker’smovements.
SpatialandSpinalPerspectivesinLateralandTwistingMovements
Whenlookingatyogaposesthatinvolvelateralandtwistingmovements,it’salsoimportant
todistinguishspatialfromspinalperspectives.Triangle(trikonasana)isaposethatisoften
referredtoasalateralstretch,andthisistrueinsofarasitlengthenstheconnectivetissue
pathwaythatrunsalongthesideofthebody(seefigure2.19).

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YogaAnatomy

Figure2.18Anintegratedorientationto

astandingbackbend.

Figure2.19Trikonasana.

Itis,however,possibletolengthenthelaterallineofthebodywithoutanyappreciable

lateralflexionofthespine,soagain,weneedtobeclearwhatexactlyismeantbyaterm

like“lateralbend.”

Intrikonasana,moreofalaterallinestretchwouldresultfromawidespacingofthefeet,

andanintentiontoinitiatethemovementprimarilyfromthepelviswhilemaintainingthe

spineinneutralextension.Thisalsoturnstheposeintomoreofahip­opener.

Lateralflexionofthespinecouldbeemphasizedbyacloserspacingofthefeet,which

allowsformorestabilizationoftherelationshipbetweenthepelvisandthighs,whichwould

requirethemovementtocomefromthelateralbendingofthespine.

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Stickingwiththeexampleoftrianglepose,ifwelookatitsrevolvedvariationinfigure
Stickingwiththeexampleoftrianglepose,ifwelookatitsrevolvedvariationinfigure
2.20,wecanapplythesameperspectivetothetwistingactionofthespine.Thelumbar
spineisalmostentirelyincapableofaxialrotation(only5degrees),which,inthispose,means
thatitwillgowhereverthesacrumleadsit.Consequently,forthelowerspinetotwistinthe
directionofthispose,thepelviswouldhavetoturninthesamedirection.
Ifthehipsarerestricted,thelumbarspinewillappeartobemovingintheopposite
directionoftheribcageandshouldergirdlerotation,andwhenthisisthecase,mostof
thetwistwilloriginatefromfirstjointsabovethesacrumthatcanfreelyrotate:thelower
thoracics,T11­T12andabove.Inaddition,thetwistingoftheshouldergirdlearoundtherib
cagecancreatetheillusionthatthespineistwistingmorethanitreallyis.So,thebodycan
indeedbetwistinginspace,butacarefulobservationofthespinemaytellwhereexactly
thetwistingis(orisnot)comingfrom.
Ifthepelvisisfreetorotatearoundthehipjoints,thisposewillexhibitamoreevenly
distributedtwistthroughoutthespine(ratherthananoverloadingofT11andT12).The
yogaandthespine 27 Figure2.20Parivrttatrikonasana.
yogaandthespine
27
Figure2.20Parivrttatrikonasana.
lumbarspinewillfullyparticipatebecausethepelvisandsacrumarealsoturning;theneck
andshoulderswillbefree,andtheribcage,upperback,andneckwillbeopen,alongwith
thebreathing.
AxialExtension,Bandhas,andMahamudra
Axialextension,thefifthspinalmovement,isdefinedasasimultaneousreductionofboth
theprimaryandsecondarycurvesofthespine(seefigure2.21).Inotherwords,thecervi­
cal,thoracic,andlumbarcurvesareallreduced,andtheresultisthattheoveralllengthof
thespineisincreased.
Figure2.21Axialextensioninvolvesasimultaneousreductionoftheprimaryandsecondarycurves,
whichlengthensthespinalcolumnbeyonditsneutralalignment.

28

YogaAnatomy

Becausetheprimaryandsecondarycurveshaveareciprocalrelationship,whichis

expressedinthe“natural”movementsofflexionandextension,axialextensionis“unnatu­

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ral”inthesensethatitbypassesthisreciprocalrelationshipbyreducingallthreecurvesat
ral”inthesensethatitbypassesthisreciprocalrelationshipbyreducingallthreecurvesat once.Inotherwords,axialextensiondoesn’thappenallonitsown;itrequiresconscious
effortandtrainingtoaccomplish.
Theactionthatproducesaxialextensioninvolvesashiftinthetoneandorientationof
thebreathingstructuresknownasthebandhas.Thethreediaphragms(pelvic,respiratory,
andvocal)andtheirsurroundingmusculaturebecomemoresthira(stable).Asaresult,the
abilityofthethoracicandabdominalcavitiestochangeshapeismorelimitedinaxialexten­
sion.Theoveralleffectisareductionofbreathvolumebutanincreaseinlength.
Theoverallyogictermthatdescribesthisstateofthespineandbreathismahamudra,
whichalwaysinvolvesaxialextensionandthebandhas.Itispossibletodomahamudrafrom
manypositions,includingseated,standing,supine,andinarmsupports.
Aseatedposturenamedmahamudra(seefigure2.22)addsatwistingactiontoaxial
extension.Itisconsideredasupremeaccomplishmenttodothispracticewithallthreeband­
hasexecutedcorrectly,becauseitrepresentsacompletemergingofasanaandpranayama
practice.
Figure2.22Mahamudracombinesaxialextensionandatwistingaction.

understandingtheasanas

3

ecidingwhichanatomicaldetailsofyogaposestodepictisquiteachallenge.Unlike D weighttrainingandstretching,whichfocusonspecificmuscles,yogafocusesonasanas

thatarewhole­bodypractices;noelementsareentirelypassive. 1 Respectingtheprinciplesofyogapreviouslydiscussed,Ihaveattemptedareconciliation ofopposingimperativesinselectingthefollowinginformation.Ihavetriedtobesystem­

atic,butnotformulaic,takingeachpostureonitsownuniqueterms,whileprovidingsome

consistencyintheformatofthepagespreadsandtheinformationprovided.

Becauseyogapracticeisfundamentallyexperiential,theinformationinthisbookis

intendedtobeaninspirationtoexploreyourownbody.Perhapsyouwillunderstandmore

clearlysomethingyou’veexperiencedasaresultofreviewingthismaterial.Ontheother

hand,someanatomicaldetailmaycaptureyourinterestandmoveyoutoinvestigateit

throughaposethat’sbeingdepicted.Ineithercase,thisbookwillhaveserveditspurpose

ifitsupportsyouintheseexplorations.

StartingPositionsandtheBaseofSupport

Theposesinthisbookarearrangedbytheirstartingposition.Everyunusualpositionofthe

bodyhastobeginwithausualposition.Thefive“usualpositions”arecommonlyreferred

toasthestartingpositions.Anyasanayoucanthinkofhasoneofthesecommonpositions

asitsstartingpoint:

Standing—supportedonthesolesofyourfeet(page33)

Sitting—supportedonthebaseofyourpelvis(page79)

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Kneeling—supportedonyourknees,shins,andtopsoffeet(page119) Supine—supportedonthebacksurfaceofyourbody(page135)
Kneeling—supportedonyourknees,shins,andtopsoffeet(page119) Supine—supportedonthebacksurfaceofyourbody(page135)
Prone—supportedonthefrontsurfaceofyourbody(page163)
Withineachasanasectionisatleastoneforwardbend,backbend,twist,lateralbend,
andaxialextension.Theselectionsincludetheposturesthataremostcommonlypracticed
bythemajorityofteachingtraditions.
Relatedtotheissueofstartingpositionistheconceptofthebaseofsupport.Thisrefers
tothepartsofthebodythatareonthegroundandthroughwhichtheweight­bearingforces
aretransmitteddowntotheearth,resultinginsomesupportingenergygeneratedupward
intothebody.Anatomically,onlythefeet—supportingthelegsandpelvis—haveevolved
specificallytoaccomplishthis.Thatisperhapswhythesimplestandingposesareconsidered
thestartingpointforallasanapracticebymostyogatraditions.Thelessonsyoulearnfrom
standingontheearthcanbeappliedtoanyotherbaseofsupportyoumayexperience.
Thestructuresinthebodythatmostcloselyresemblethefeetandlegsare,ofcourse,the
handsandarms.Whenyouemploythemtocreateabaseofsupport,youdoarmsupports,
whicharecoveredinachapteralltheirownonpage175.
1 Evensavasana(thecorpsepose),requiringcompleterelaxationofalltheskeletalmuscles,hasanactivecomponent:Themind
isintentionallyfocusedontheprocessofbreathingandrelaxation—otherwiseit’sjustnapping.
29

30

YogaAnatomy

InformationforEachPose

Withoccasionalvariation,eachposedescriptionincludesthefollowingsections:

Name.EachasanaispresentedwithitsSanskritnameanditstranslatedEnglishname.

Additionally,somedescriptivetextisaddedtoclarifythemeaningorcontextofthepose’s

name.

Classificationandlevel.Posesareclassifiedbytheirbaseofsupport,spinalaction,

andlevelofdifficulty.

Keystructures.Foreachasana,atleastthreekeystructuresarehighlighted.These

maybeanatomicalelementsthattheposebringsintogreaterfocusorfunction.Theycould

alsobelessobviousbodypartsthatcanprovideadeeperactionthanyouwouldordinarily

notice.Additionally,aparticularasanadescriptionmightdiscussaninterestinganatomical

observationthatcouldjustaseasilyapplytoseveralotherpostures.

Keyjointandlimbactions.Thejointsandlimbsthatareinvolvedintheasanaare

identifiedaccordingtotheiractions:flexion,extension,adduction,abduction,rotation,and

soforth.

Workingandlengthening.Intheperformanceofanyyogaasana,themostprominent

sensationsaregeneratedbythelengtheningandworkingoftheskeletalmuscles.Many

times,muscleshavetoworkandlengthensimultaneouslytodotheposes.Foreachpose,

someelementofthatcomponentisdepictedandanalyzed.Thekeymusclesforeachpose

arediscussed.

Breathing.Breathingisthechangingofshapeofthebodycavities.Eachyogaposture

presentsaspecificshape­changingchallengetotherespiratorymechanism.Manypostures

arepresentedwithnotesontheseunderlyingbreathingpatternsandsuggestionsonhow

tousethebreathtogetthemostoutoftheposture’seffects.

Obstaclesandnotes.Fromacertainperspective,yogaisthepracticeofuncoveringand

resolvingobstructionsinthehumansystem.Practicingyogaasanasisasystematicwayof

encounteringthoseobstaclesinthemostperceptuallyaccessibleaspectofoursystem—the

physicalbody.Presentedarethemostcommonobstaclestoachievingeachofthepictured

asanas,alongwithsomeusefulsuggestionsforovercomingthem.

Cautions.Certainposespresentpotentialrisktospecificbodypartsortoparticular

people.Thesearepointedoutwhereapplicable.

Variations.Forcertainasanas,keyvariationsarepicturedandexplained.

Specialnotes.Here,whereverit’sneeded,arenotesthatdon’tfitintoanyoftheother

categories.Thiscouldincludecommentsabouttheasana’sterminology,history,mythology,

oranyothercontextualinformation.

TypesofMuscleContractions

Inthe“WorkingandLengthening”sectionsinthenextchapters,fourtypesofmuscle

contractionsarereferredto:

Concentric—Thelengthofthemuscledecreasesduringacontraction.

Eccentric—Thelengthofthemuscleincreasesduringacontraction.

Isometric—Thelengthofthemuscleremainsconstantduringacontractionagainst

resistance,andtheintentionistonotmove.

Isotonic—Thelengthofthemuscleremainsconstantduringacontractionagainst

resistance,andtheintentionistomove.

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understandingtheasanas 31
understandingtheasanas 31 Anunderstandablequestionthatcouldariseis:“Sincetheposesareallstatic,why
understandingtheasanas
31
Anunderstandablequestionthatcouldariseis:“Sincetheposesareallstatic,why
wouldn’tallthemusclesjustbedoingisometriccontractions?” 2 Theshortanswertothis
questionisthatthetextisdescribinghowtocomeintoaposefromastartingposition,
ratherthanhowtobeinapose.Inotherwords,lookatanasanasasaprocessratherthan
asafinalproduct.
Mostoftenanimageofanasanadepictstheendpointofamovement.Evenifyoustay
inaposeforaperiodoftime,themuscleactionsthatgotyoutherefromthestartingpoint
(standing,sitting,kneeling,andsoon)arestillpresent.Inaddition,themovementsofthe
breathingstructuresnevercease.Inyogaposes,weexperienceacrosssectionofanever­
endingprogressionofmovementandbreath,extendinginfinitelyforwardandbackward
intime. 3 Aslongasweareinthismatrixofspaceandtime,wewillneveractuallybestill,
andourfullactionpotentialwillbepresentandaccessible.
TheDrawings
Theasanaimagesinthisbookarebasedonphotographsofvariousmodelsthatweretaken
duringseveralsessions.Someoftheperspectivesarequiteunusual,becausetheywereshot
frombelowusingalargesheetofplexiglass,orfromaboveusingaladder.
Thephotoswereusedasreferencefortheanatomicalillustrator,whoposedherskeleton
inthevariouspositionsandsketchedthebonesbyhand.Afteraroundofcorrections,the
YogaAnatomyphotoshootatTheBreathingProjectinNewYorkCity.LeslieKaminoff(farleft)
supervisesasprojectphotographer,LydiaMann,shootsDerek’sBakasanafrombelowtheplexi­
glass.JanetandElizabethstabilizetheladders.Thefinalartworkfromtheresultingphotoison
page186.
2 “Eachbodilymovementisembeddedinachainofinfinitehappeningsfromwhichwedistinguishonlytheimmediate
precedingstepsand,occasionally,thosewhichimmediatelyfollow”(Laban1966,p.54).Forreferenceto“isometric”versus
“stabilizingisotonic,”seeAdler,Beckers,andBuck,2003.
3 AmemorabledescriptionofthisconceptiscontainedinKurtVonnegut’sSlaughterhouse­Five,inwhichhedescribesthe
Tralfamadorians,wholiveinthefourthdimension.Whentheylookataperson,theyseeaverylong,four­dimensional
caterpillar,withtinynewbornlegsatoneendandwithered,elderlylegsattheotherend.Humanbeings,lackingthefourth
dimensionofperception,canonlyseeathree­dimensionalcrosssectionofthecaterpillar.

32

YogaAnatomy

musclesandotherstructureswereaddedusingcomputersoftware,andseveralmorerounds

ofcorrectionsandadjustmentsweremadetoproducethefinalimages.

Thelabelingofthestructuresineachdrawing,aswellasthevariousarrowsandother

indicators,wereaddedlast.

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standingposes 4 W

standingposes

4

W henyoustand,youbearweightontheonlystructuresinthebodythathavespecifi­

callyevolvedtoholdyouupintheuniquelyhumanstance—thefeet.Thearchitecture

ofthefeet,alongwiththeirmusculature,showsnature’sunmatchedabilitytoreconcileand neutralizeopposingforces. Clearly,however,theseamazingstructuresaremassivelyoverengineeredfortheway mostpeopleusetheminthecivilizedworldofstiffshoesandpavedsurfaces.Fortunately, yogaexercisesaredonebarefoot,withmuchattentiongiventorestoringthestrengthand flexibilityofthefootandlowerlegmuscles. Inyogapractice,someoftheearliestlessonsfrequentlycenteronthesimpleactofstand­ ingupright—somethingyou’vebeendoing(moreorlesssuccessfully)sinceyouwereabout ayearold.Ifyoucanfeelyourweightreleasingintothethreepointsofcontactbetween thefootandtheearth,youmaybeabletofeelthesupportthattheearthgivesbacktoyou throughtheactionofthethreearchesofthefootandthemusclesthatcontrolthem. Standingpositionshavethehighestcenterofgravityofallthestartingpoints,andthe effortofstabilizingthatcentermakesstandingposes—bydefinition—brahmana.Release andsupport,givingandreceiving,inhalingandexhaling—Patanjali’sformulationofsthiram sukhamasanamencompassesalloftheseandmore. 1 Thefundamentallessonsyoulearnfromstandingposturescanilluminatethepractice ofalltheotherasanas.

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1 Patanjali’sYogaSutra,II.1.T.K.V.Desikachar’stranslationsumsitupwellwhenhedefinessthiramas“alertnesswithout
1 Patanjali’sYogaSutra,II.1.T.K.V.Desikachar’stranslationsumsitupwellwhenhedefinessthiramas“alertnesswithout
tension”andsukhamas“relaxationwithoutdullness.”
33
Tadasana MountainPose tah­DAHS­anna tada=mountain
Tadasana
MountainPose
tah­DAHS­anna
tada=mountain
Thispose’snameevokesmanyimagesthatrelatetoastable,rootedbaseofsup­
portanda“crown”thatreachesfortheheavens.
34

ClassificationandLevel

Easystandingpose

KeyStructures

Intrinsicandextrinsicfootmuscles,quadriceps,iliopsoas,piriformis,abdomi­

nalwall,diaphragm.

JointActions

Thelumbar,thoracic,andcervicalcurvesareinmildaxialextension.

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Theankle,hip,shoulder,andwristjointsareintheirneutralpositions,midway betweenflexionandextension.
Theankle,hip,shoulder,andwristjointsareintheirneutralpositions,midway
betweenflexionandextension.
Thekneejointsareextended(butnothyperextended);theelbowjointsare
extendedandtheforearmsarepronated.
Thearchesofthefeetareliftedandconnectingwiththeupwardliftingaction
inthepelvicfloor,thelowerabdomen,ribcage,cervicalspine,andthetop
ofthehead.
Theshoulderbladesaredroppedontothesupportoftheribcageandcon­
nectwiththedownwardreleaseofthetailboneandthegroundingofthe
threepointsofcontactbetweeneachfootandthefloor.
Notes
Nothinglastingcanbebuiltonashakyfoundation.Thismaybewhytadasana
isconsideredbymanyyogatraditionstobethestartingpointofasanapractice.
Interestingly,thisposeisalmostidenticaltothe“anatomicalposition”—thestart­
ingreferencepointforthestudyofmovementandanatomy.Theonlymajordif­
ferencebetweenthetwopositionsisthatintadasana,thepalmsofthehandsare
facingthesidesofthethighsratherthanforward.
Nonmuscularsupportandpaddingforthefoot:thefatpads(yellow)andplantarfascia
(blue).Themusclesofthefootoccupythespacebetweentheplantarfasciaandthebones.
(continued)
35

Tadasana(continued)

Thisbodypositionisalsouniquelyhuman,becausehumansaretheonlytrue

bipedmammalsontheplanet.Humansarealsotheleaststableofcreatures,pos­

sessingthesmallestbaseofsupport,thehighestcenterofgravity,and(propor­

tionately)theheaviestbrainbalancingatopitall.

Thebaseofsupportofthispose—thefeet—offersabeautifulimageofhowthe

passiveandactiveforcesofreleaseandsupportoperateinthehumansystem.The

essentialstructureofthefootcanberepresentedbyatriangle.Thethreepointsof

thetrianglearethethreeplaceswherethefoot’sstructurewillrestonasupporting

surface:thecalcanealtuberosity,thebaseofthefirstmetatarsal,andthebaseof

thefifthmetatarsal.Thelinesconnectingthesepointsrepresentthearches—three

linesofliftthroughwhichposturalsupportisderived:themediallongitudinalarch,

thelaterallongitudinalarch,andthetransverse(metatarsal)arch.

Fromunderneath,thetwotrianglesofthefeetcanbejoinedtoshowthesize

andshapeofthebaseofsupportfortadasana.The“plumbline”thatpasses

throughthebody’scenterofgravityinthispositionshouldalsofallthroughthe

exactcenterofthisbase.

Trianglesrepresentthethreepointsof

supportofeachfoot.

Thethreearchesofthefoot.

Thefourlayersofmusculature(seetopfigureonpage37)allcombineto

createlift,balance,andmovementofthe28bonesofthefoot,whichhas

evolvedtobeanincrediblyadaptablestructureabletomoveyousmoothly

throughspaceoveruneventerrain.

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Thefoothasevolvedovermillionsofyearsinaworldwithnoroadsorside­
Thefoothasevolvedovermillionsofyearsinaworldwithnoroadsorside­
walks.Intoday’sworldinwhichmanyunevensurfaceshavebeenleveledand
paved,it’sclearlyoverengineered.Whentheadaptabilityofthefootisnolonger
neededforlocomotion,thedeepermusclesthatsupportthearchesinevitably
weaken,eventuallyleavingonlythesuperficial,noncontractileplantarfascia
responsibleforpreventingthetotalcollapseofthefoot.Thisfrequentlyleadsto
plantarfasciitisandheelspurs.
Thepracticeofstandingposturesingeneral,andtadasanainparticular,isone
ofthebestwaystorestorethenaturalaliveness,strength,andadaptabilityofthe
feet.Onceyourfoundationisimproved,it’smucheasiertoputtherestofyour
houseinorder.
36
Flexorhallucislongus Adductorhallucis Interosseus muscles Flexor Lumbricals digitorum brevis Flexor Abductor
Flexorhallucislongus
Adductorhallucis
Interosseus
muscles
Flexor
Lumbricals
digitorum
brevis
Flexor
Abductor
Flexor
digitorum
digitiminimi
hallucis
longus
brevis
Quadratus
Flexordigiti
plantae
minimi
Abductor
hallucis
Fourlayersofmusculature,deepestontherightandmostsuperficialontheleft.
Talus
Baseof
tibia
Calcaneus
Footbonesfrombelow(left)andabove(right).The“X”marksthepointwheretheweight
ofthebodytransfersthroughthetibiatothetalusbone,andfromtheretothecalcaneus.
Theplantarfascia—themostsuperficiallayerofsupportforthefoot.Themorethearch
supportmusclesweaken,themorepressureisputontheplantarfascia,whichcanresultin
plantarfasciitisandheelspurs.
(continued)
37

Tadasana(continued)

TadasanaVariation

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Samasthiti EqualStanding,PrayerPose sama=same,equal sthiti=toestablish,tostand 38
Samasthiti
EqualStanding,PrayerPose
sama=same,equal
sthiti=toestablish,tostand
38

Samasthitihasawider,morestable

basethantadasanabecausethefeet

areplacedwiththeheelsunderthesit­

tingbonesratherthantouchingeach

other.Allthestandingposesthatare

executedfromthisbase,asopposedto

tadasana,consequentlyhaveawider,

morestablebaseofsupport.Thisis

typicallydoneinthevinyasastyles,in

whichbreath­coordinatedmovement

isthefocus,ratherthanthealignment­

orientedapproaches,inwhichstatic

maintenanceofpositionsispreferred.

Baseforsupportofsamasthiti.Thecircled

dotmarkswherethecenterlineofgravity

falls.

Additionally,theheadislowered

andthehandsareinnamaste(prayer)

position.Thisistypicalofthestarting

pointofasunsalutation,aprayerful

vinyasathatisusedbymanysystemsofhathayogaasawarm­upandtocon­

nectasanasintoaflowingsequence.

TerminologyNote

IntheAshtangatraditionofSriK.PattabhiJois,thetermsamasthitirefersto

whatisheredescribedastadasana.IntheteachingtraditionofSriT.Krishnam­

acharyaandhisson,T.K.V.Desikachar,thetermtadasanareferstoastanding

posewiththearmsoverhead,andbalancingontheballsofthefeet.

Cautions

Peoplewithheadache,insomnia,andlowbloodpressureshouldexercisecaution

whenperformingprolongedstandingposes.

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Here,theweightisbalancedontheballsofthefeet. The“X”markswherethecenterlineofgravityfalls. 39
Here,theweightisbalancedontheballsofthefeet.
The“X”markswherethecenterlineofgravityfalls.
39
Utkatasana ChairPose OOT­kah­TAHS­anna Extensor digitorum Triceps Deltoid Infraspinatus Teres minor Erector
Utkatasana
ChairPose
OOT­kah­TAHS­anna
Extensor
digitorum
Triceps
Deltoid
Infraspinatus
Teres
minor
Erector
spinae
Serratusanterior
Gluteus
medius
Rectusabdominis
Quadriceps
Hamstrings
Soleus
Tibialisanterior
ClassificationandLevel
Basicstandingpose,axialextension
40
ClassificationandLevel Basicstandingpose,axialextension 40

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KeyStructures Shouldergirdle,spine,quadricepsandhamstringstobalanceeachother,
KeyStructures
Shouldergirdle,spine,quadricepsandhamstringstobalanceeachother,
knees(adductorsandmedialrotators).Toprotectknees,minimizeexternal
rotationasthehipsflex.
JointActions
Shoulderflexion,elbowextension,forearmsupination,axialextensionin
spine,hipandkneeflexion,ankledorsiflexion.
Working
Spine:Intertransversarii,interspinalis,transversospinalisgroup,erectorspinae,
psoasminor.
Shouldersandarms:Uppertrapezius,serratusanterior,supraspinatus,middle
deltoids,bicepsbrachiilonghead,triceps,supinator,extensordigitorum,
abdominalmuscles(tomaintainaxialextensionandsupportlowerspine).
Legs:Gluteusmediusandminimus,adductorgroup,quadricepseccentrically
(modulatedandbalancedbyhamstrings),tibialisanterior,soleuseccentri­
cally,intrinsicmusclesofthefeet.
Lengthening
Latissimusdorsi,rhomboids,gluteusmaximus,soleus.
Breathing
Maintainingaxialextension(whichminimizesbreathingshapechange)while
engagingthelargest,mostoxygen­hungrymusclesofthebodypresentsachal­
lengethatrequiresefficiencyofeffortandbreath.Otherwise,thebody’soxygen
demandswillmakethebreathtoolaboredtocontinuetomaintaintheaxial
extension.
Obstacles
Tightlatissimusdorsi,weakquadriceps,kneesfallingoutofalignment,over­
archinglumbarspine(hence,psoasminorandabdominalmuscles),over­
flexinghips(hence,hamstrings,toresistthequadriceps’tendencytopull
thesittingbonesawayfromthebacksoftheknees).
Notes
Kneesarevulnerableinthisposition(partlyflexed),particularlythemenisci,if
thereisexcessivekneerotation.
Gravityshouldbethemainsourceofresistanceinthepose,nottheresistance
ofagonistandantagonistcontraction.Beginningstudentsinthisasanatendto
feelalotheavierthantheirweightbecauseofthis.
41
Uttanasana StandingForwardBend OOT­tan­AHS­anna ut=intense tan=stretch ClassificationandLevel Piriformis
Uttanasana
StandingForwardBend
OOT­tan­AHS­anna
ut=intense
tan=stretch
ClassificationandLevel
Piriformis
Easystandingpose,forward
bend
Spinal
extensors
KeyStructures
Hipjoint,legs,spine.
JointActions
Hipflexion,kneeextension,

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mildspinalflexion(the Hamstrings tighterthehamstrings,the morethespinalflexion). Gastrocnemius Working
mildspinalflexion(the
Hamstrings
tighterthehamstrings,the
morethespinalflexion).
Gastrocnemius
Working
Upperbody:Gravity.
Lowerbody:Vastusmedialis,
intermedius,lateralis(knee
extensors);articularisgenus
(todrawuponthecapsule
ofthekneejoint);feetand
ankles(forbalance).
Lengthening
Spinalmuscles,hamstrings,
posteriorfibersofgluteusmediusandminimus,gluteusmaximus,pirifor­
mis,adductormagnus,soleus,gastrocnemius.
Breathing
Deephipflexioncompressestheabdomen.Thiscombinedwithgravitymoves
thecenterofthediaphragmcranially,somorefreedomisneededinthebackof
theribcageforthemovementofthebreath.
42
 

Piriformis

Adductor

magnus

Bicepsfemoris

Gracilis

Gastrocnemius

Obstacles

Tightnessinhamstrings,spinalmuscles,gluteals.

Cautions

Peoplewithbackinjury,osteoporosis,orbothshouldapproachdeepforward

bendingverycautiouslyandgradually.

Peoplewithhighbloodpressure(hypertension)shouldgointothispose

graduallyandremaininitonlyiftheirbreathingisnotstrained.Peoplewithlow

bloodpressure(hypotension)shouldcomeoutofthisposeveryslowly,because

theymaybecomedizzy.

Notes

Inthispose,gravityshoulddothe work.Peopleexperiencingtightness inthebackofthelegssometimes pullthemselvesdown,whichcre­ atestightnessandcongestionin therectusfemorisandpsoas.It’s bettertosoftenthekneestofind somespaceinthehipjoint,allow­ ingthespinetorelease.Onlythen doeslengtheningthelegsproduce anevenstretchalongtheentireback lineofthebody. Formoreanatomy,andtheseated versionofthispose,seepaschimot­

tanasana,page82.

Spinalextensors

Diaphragm

Psoas

major

Gluteus

maximus

Hamstrings

Quadriceps

Gastrocnemius

Tibialis

anterior

Soleus

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Ifthehamstringsaretight,slightlybendingthe kneeshelpsreleasethespine. 43
Ifthehamstringsaretight,slightlybendingthe kneeshelpsreleasethespine.
43
UtthitaHastaPadangusthasana ExtendedHand­ToePoseorStandingBigToeHold oo­TEE­tahHA­stapad­angoosh­TAHS­anna
UtthitaHastaPadangusthasana
ExtendedHand­ToePoseorStandingBigToeHold
oo­TEE­tahHA­stapad­angoosh­TAHS­anna
utthita=extended
hasta=hand
pada=foot
angusta=bigtoe
Pronatorteres
Deltoid
Flexorcarpiradialis
Palmarislongus
Flexorcarpi
ulnaris
Psoasmajor
Quadratus
lumborum
Piriformis
Hamstrings
Gluteus
Superior
medius
Iliacus
gemellus
Gluteus
Rectus
maximus
femoris
Obturator
Inferior
internus
gemellus
Vastus
Gracilis
lateralis
Vastus
medialis
Adductor
magnus
Tibialis
Flexor
posterior
digitorum
longus
Flexor
hallucis
longus
44

ClassificationandLevel

Intermediateasymmetricalstandingbalancepose

JointActions

Neutralspine,pelvislevel,shoulderflexion,elbowextension,fingerflexion.

Standingleg:neutralhipextension,kneeextension(notlocked).Liftedleg:

hipflexion,kneeextension.

Working

Standingleg,spine,andpelvis:Quadricepsandhamstringsonthestanding

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leg;spinalextensors,tokeepfromflexingthespineandtuckingthepelvis;
leg;spinalextensors,tokeepfromflexingthespineandtuckingthepelvis; abductorsandexternalrotators,eccentrically,tokeepthepelvislevel;
externalandinternalobliques;rotarymusclesoftheback(obliques,trans­
versospinalis),tocountertherotationcreatedbythearmholdingthetoe.
Liftedleg:Flexorsoftheshoulderandfingerstoholdthebigtoeandcreate
hipflexion;psoasmajorandiliacus,rectusfemoris,pectineus,adductor
brevisandlongus(tohelpwithhipflexion).
Lengthening
Liftedleg:Hamstrings,gastrocnemius,soleus,gluteusmaximus.
Obstacles
Tightnessinthehamstringsorgluteusmaximusintheliftedlegcancausespinal
flexion,andthushipextensionorkneeflexioninthestandingleg.It’sbetterto
bendthekneeintheliftedlegandfindneutralcurvesinthespineandneutral
extensioninthestandinghip,andkneeextension(butnothyperextension)in
thestandingleg.
Notes
Weaknessinstandinglegabductorscancreate“hiphike”onthesideofthe
liftedleg,leadingtooverworkofthequadratuslumborum.
Weaknessinthehipflexors(psoasmajor,iliacus,andrectusfemoris)canalso
causeoverworkinthequadratuslumborumandhiphike.
Breathing
Inmaintainingthisbalancepose,thestabilizingactionintheabdominalmuscles
combineswiththebracingactionofthearmstocreateanoverallreductionof
breathingcapacity.Ifthereisexcessivemusculartension,thereducedvolumeof
breathwillnotbesufficienttofueltheeffort,andtheincreasedvolumeofbreath
willtendtocompromisethebalance.
45
Vrksasana TreePose vrik­SHAHS­anna vrksa=tree Psoasmajor Iliacus Pectineus Tensor Adductorlongus fascialata
Vrksasana
TreePose
vrik­SHAHS­anna
vrksa=tree
Psoasmajor
Iliacus
Pectineus
Tensor
Adductorlongus
fascialata
Sartorius
Rectusfemoris
Vastuslateralis
Gracilis
Vastusmedialis
Gastrocnemius
Tibialis
anterior
Soleus

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ClassificationandLevel Basicasymmetricalstandingbalance KeyStructures
ClassificationandLevel
Basicasymmetricalstandingbalance
KeyStructures
Lowerleg,foot,arch,abductors,andexternalrotatorsofthestandingleg;
externalandinternalobliques,tostabilizetorsotopelvis.
46
JointandLimbActions Neutralspine,levelpelvis.Standingleg:hipneutralextension,internalrota­
JointandLimbActions
Neutralspine,levelpelvis.Standingleg:hipneutralextension,internalrota­
tion,adduction;kneeextension(notlocked).Liftedleg:hipflexion,exter­
nalrotation,abduction;kneeflexion;tibiaexternalrotation;ankledorsi­
flexion(pressedagainsttheadductorsofthestandingleg);footpronation.
Working
Liftedleg:Iliacusandpsoasmajor,allexternalrotatorsandextensors—glu­
teusmaximus,posteriorfibersofgluteusmediusandminimus,piriformis,
adductormagnus(extensorportion),obturatorinternusandexternus,
gemelli,quadratusfemoris.
Standingleg:Piriformis,tensorfascialata,gluteusmediusandminimus,glu­
teusmaximus(extensorportion).
Standingfoot:Intrinsicmusclesofthefoot,musclesoftheankleandlowerleg.
Lengthening
Liftedleg:Pectineus,adductorlongusandbrevis,gracilis.
Standingleg:Gluteusmediusandminimus,piriformis(workingeccentrically).
Notes
Theadductorslengthentogetintoposition;theymayhavesomeroleinholding
theleginplacebypressingthefootintotheinsideofthestandingleg.Misusing
thepectineustoholdtheleginplacecreatesflexionatthehip,tiltingthepelvis
androtatingtheleginward.
Abductorsonthestandinglegareworkingeccentrically;iftheyareweakor
tight,thehipoftheliftedlegwill“hikeup,”ortherotatorswilltrytostabilize
thepelvisandthepelviswillrotateopen.
Themorestrengthandadaptabilityyouhaveinthefeetandankles,themore
optionsyouwillhaveforfindingbalance.
Breathing
Comparedtotreeposewitharmselevated(nextvariation)orutthitahasta
padangusthasana(thetoe­holdposture),theupperbodyisfreertoparticipatein
respiratorymovementsinthispose.Withthearmsheldquietlyinnamaste,and
theraisedlegbracedagainsttheadductorsofthestandingleg,theattentionand
centerofgravityaredrawninwardanddownward.
Cautions
Peoplewithinnerearorbalancedisorders(benignpositionalvertigo,Ménière’s
disease)shouldpracticestandingbalancesnearawallforextrasecurityand
support.
(continued)
47

Vrksasana (continued)

VrksasanaVariation

TreePoseWithArmsElevated

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Superiorgemellus Obturatorinternus Piriformis Adductormagnus Inferiorgemellus Iliotibialband Flexordigitorumlongus
Superiorgemellus
Obturatorinternus
Piriformis
Adductormagnus
Inferiorgemellus
Iliotibialband
Flexordigitorumlongus
Tibialisposterior
Flexorhallucislongus
ClassificationandLevel
Intermediateasymmetricalstandingbalancepose
JointActions
Neutralspine;scapulaupwardrotation,abduction,elevation;glenohumeral
externalrotation,abduction;elbowextension;forearmpronation(ifthe
upperarmisexternallyrotated).
48

Working

Infraspinatus,teresminor,deltoids,supraspinatus,longheadbiceps,serratus

anterior(supportedbytheupperfibersofthetrapezius),tricepswithanco­

neustoextendelbows.

Lengthening

Latissimusdorsi,teresmajor,longheadtriceps.

ObstaclesandNotes

Overuseofthelatissimusdorsito“pullshouldersdowntheback”interfereswith

theelevationofthescapulae;itcancreateimpingementattheacromionofthe

bicepstendonandsupraspinatus.Theribcagecanalsobepushedforwardfrom

arestrictionofthelatissimus.

Thisvariationcreatesahighercenterofgravitybyplacingthearmsoverhead,

andisthereforecategorizedasanintermediate­levelbalancingasana.

Breathing

Becauseofthestabilizingactionofthemusclesthatkeepthearmsoverhead,the

thoracicmovementsofthebreathencountermoreresistanceinthisposition.In

addition,thehighercenterofgravitywilltendtoproduceastrongerstabilizing

actionintheabdominalmuscles.Takentogether,thesefactorscombinetoreduce

theoverallexcursionofthediaphragm;therefore,quiet,efficientbreathingisthe

mostappropriatepattern.Breathsthataretoodeepwilldestabilizetheposture.

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49
49
Garudasana EaglePose gah­rue­DAHS­anna garuda=afiercebirdofprey,thevehicle(vahana)oftheHindugodVishnu,
Garudasana
EaglePose
gah­rue­DAHS­anna
garuda=afiercebirdofprey,thevehicle(vahana)oftheHindugodVishnu,
usuallydescribedasaneagle,butsometimesasahawkorkite
Trapezius
Infraspinatus
Teresminor
Teresmajor
Serratus
Latissimus
anterior
dorsi
Serratus
anterior
Quadratus
lumborum
Gluteus
medius
Adductormagnus
ClassificationandLevel
Asymmetricalstandingbalancingpose
50
Asymmetricalstandingbalancingpose 50

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JointActions Mildspinalflexion;scapulaabduction,upwardandlateralrotation,elevation;
JointActions
Mildspinalflexion;scapulaabduction,upwardandlateralrotation,elevation;
glenohumeralexternalrotation;elbowflexion;forearmpronation;neutral
wristextension;pelvisanteriortilt,counternutation;hipflexion,internal
rotation,adduction;kneeflexion,internalrotation;ankledorsiflexion;
foot—liftedineversion,standinginslightsupination.
Working
Armposition:Infraspinatus(bothworkingandlengthening),serratusanterior,
pectoralismajorandminor,coracobrachialis,pronatorteresandpronator
quadratus.
Legposition:Gluteusmediusandminimus(anteriorfibers),tensorfascia
latae,adductormagnus,gluteusmediusandminimusalsoworkingtosta­
bilizethestandinghip.
Lengthening
Armposition:Becauseoftheabductionofthescapulae—rhomboids,lower
trapezius,teresmajor,andlatissimusdorsi(slightly);infraspinatus,triceps
(slightly).
Legposition:Gluteusmaximus,piriformis,quadratusfemoris,obturatorinter­
nus,posteriorfibersofgluteusmediusandminimus.
ObstaclesandNotes
Thescapulaeneedtobeabletobothabductandrotatelaterally.Ifthescapulae
aretoo“pulleddown,”thespinewillhavetocontorttoachievetheentwined
position.
Boththestandingandtheliftedlegneedtointernallyrotateandadductinthis
position.
Toachievethefullentwining,thestandinglegneedstoflexatthehipand
knee.Thispositionofhipflexionwithinternalrotationandadductionisnot
structurallyeasy(thefibersofthehipjointcapsulemakeiteasiertointernally
rotatewhenthehipisinextension).Theadductionwithinternalrotationespe­
ciallygetstothepiriformis.Thispositioncanbeovermobilizingfortheknees;if
thehipsaretootighttoachievetheactions,thekneescanbeforcedtooverro­
tate.Thisactionisstabilizingforthesacroiliacjoint.
Breathing
Thisisthemost“compacted”oftheone­leggedbalancingpostures,fromthe
standpointofboththeshapeandcenterofgravity,andthebreathing.The
entwiningofthearmscompressestheribcage,andthehipflexion,combined
withthemildspinalflexion,compressesthelowerabdomen.
51
Natarajasana KingoftheDancersPose not­ah­raj­AHS­anna nata=dancer raja=king Gastrocnemius Pectoralis Deltoid
Natarajasana
KingoftheDancersPose
not­ah­raj­AHS­anna
nata=dancer
raja=king
Gastrocnemius
Pectoralis
Deltoid
major
Subscapularis
Teresminor
Serratus
Rectus
Serratusanterior
anterior
abdominis
Spinalextensors
Intercostals
Obliques
Psoas
Rectus
Hamstrings
minor
abdominis
Vastus
Tensor
Psoasminor
lateralis
fascialata
Psoasmajor
Gluteus
Rectus
Rectusfemoris
maximus
femoris
Vastusmedialis
Vastus
lateralis

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Vastus medialis ClassificationandLevel Advancedbackbendingstandingbalance JointActions
Vastus
medialis
ClassificationandLevel
Advancedbackbendingstandingbalance
JointActions
Spinalextension;scapulaupwardrotation,abduction,andelevation;armflex­
ion;elbowflexion;andforearmsupination.Standingleg:hipflexion,knee
extension,andankledorsiflexion.Liftedleg:hipextension,kneeflexion,
andankleplantarflexion.
Working
Arms:Theserratusanteriorworkstowrapthescapulaaroundtheribcage;
theinfraspinatusandteresminorexternallyrotatetheglenohumeraljoint;
andthedeltoidsliftthearmsintoposition.Thesupraspinatusandsubscap­
ularisarealsoactivetohelpholdtheheadofthehumerusinitssocket.
Spine:Theintrinsicextensormusclesofthespine—intertransversarii,interspi­
nalis,rotatores,multifidi,spinalis,semispinalis,spleniuscapitisandcervicis,
52

longissimus,andiliocostalis—areallactiveincreatingandmaintaining

spinalextension.Thepsoasminor,rectusabdominis,andobliquesshould

allworkeccentricallyagainsttheactionofthespinalextensorstoprevent

toomuchactioninthelumbarspine,andmovemoreactionintothoracic

spinalextensionandhipextension.

Standingleg:Thegluteusmediusandminimusandthetensorfascialatae

workeccentricallytokeepthepelvislevel.Thequadricepsextendthe

knee,andthehamstringslengthen(ifthere’senoughrangeofmotionin

thehamstrings,theymightworkeccentricallytoresisttippingtoofarfor­

ward).Themusclesofthefeetandforelegsareactiveforbalance.

Liftedleg:Thehamstringscreatehipextensionandkneeflexion,andthe

vastiicomeintoisometricorconcentricactionaskneeextensorsasthe

posedeepens,toincreasethehipextensionagainsttheresistanceofthe

handonthefoot.Theadductormagnusisactiveasbothanadductorand

hipextensor,andthegluteusmaximus(thoughnotasanexternalrotator).

Lengthening

Arms:Rhomboids,latissimusdorsi,triceps,pectoralismajor.

Spine:Rectusabdominis,obliques,intercostals.

Standingleg:Hamstrings,abductors(workingeccentrically).

Liftedleg:Iliacus,psoasmajor,rectusfemoris.

ObstaclesandNotes

Scapulamobilityisimportantinthis“full­arm”version—bothforgettingthearm

intopositionwithoutovermobilizingtheglenohumeraljointandformobilityin

thethoracicspine.

Findthedeeper,moreintrinsicbackmusclestodotheactionofspinalexten­

sion.Usingthelatissimusandothersuperficialbackmuscleswillinterferewith

breathingandwiththeabilitytofindthefullrangeofmotioninthescapulae.

Itisalsoachallengetokeepthelegsadductedandinternallyrotatedinthisaction.

Althoughmanypeopleseekmoreextensionthroughexternalrotation,thisinvolves

theriskofovermobilizingthesacroiliacjointoroverworkingthelumbarspine.

Asindhanurasana,thebindingofthehandsandfeetcanputpressureinto

vulnerablespotssuchasthekneesandlowerback.

Breathing

Theexcursionofthediaphragmisgreatlyminimizedindancer’sposebythecombi­

nationofdeepspinalextensionandtheanteriorandposteriormusculatureworking

againsteachothertostabilizethisshapeingravity.Consequently,thisposeshould

beheldwithquietbreathing,andseldomforaverylongtime,becausethemus­

culareffortrequiredtomaintainitsoonoutpacesthebody’sabilitytosupplythose

muscleswithoxygen.Thelongertheposeisheld,thedeeperthebodywillneedto

breathe,andthemoretheabdominalmusclesandthediaphragmwillreleasetheir

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stabilizingactions,leadingtoanincreasedrisktothespineandshoulders.

53

VirabhadrasanaI WarriorI veer­ah­bah­DRAHS­anna virabhadra=thenameofafiercemythicalwarrior Deltoid Pectoralis
VirabhadrasanaI
WarriorI
veer­ah­bah­DRAHS­anna
virabhadra=thenameofafiercemythicalwarrior
Deltoid
Pectoralis
major
Pectoralisminor
Rectus
Serratusanterior
abdominis
Psoasmajor
Gluteus
maximus
Sartorius
Rectus
Quadriceps
femoris
Gracilis Vastus
lateralis
Hamstrings
Vastus
medialis
Semitendinosus
ClassificationandLevel
Basicasymmetricalstandingbackbend
KeyStructures
Articulatepelvis,integrityofspine,actioninlegs(rotationtobalancethe
pelvis).
54

JointActions

Spinalextension;shoulderflexion,slightabductionofscapulae.Frontleg:

nutation,hipflexion,kneeflexion,ankledorsiflexion.Backleg:counternu­

tation,hipextension(internalrotation),kneeextension,ankledorsiflexion

andsupination(tokeeptheheelgroundedandthearchlifted).

Working

Spinalextensors,serratusanterior,deltoids,teresminor,infraspinatus,rectus

abdominis(eccentrically),leftinternalobliquesandrightexternalobliques,

psoasminor,anteriorneck(rectuscapitis,longuscapitis,longuscolli,verti­

calis,scalenes[eccentrically]).Frontleg:hamstringsandquadriceps,eccen­

trically.Backleg:hamstringsandquadriceps,concentrically.

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Lengthening Latissimusdorsi,rectusabdominis,pectoralismajorandminor,anteriorneck
Lengthening
Latissimusdorsi,rectusabdominis,pectoralismajorandminor,anteriorneck
(rectuscapitis,longuscapitis,longuscolli,verticalis,scalenes).Frontleg:
hamstringsandquadriceps,slightly.Backleg:rectusfemoris,vastii,psoas
major,iliacus,soleus,andgastrocnemius.
Obstacles
Tightlatissimuscanpullthespineinto
toomuchofalumbarcurve.
BalanceIssues
Severesacroiliacinstability,although
thisposeisusedtoimprovesac­
roiliacproblemsthatmayarise
fromtoomuchprolongedseated
practice.
Notes
Theshorter(fromfronttoback)and
wider(fromsidetoside)stanceofthis
basicwarriorposeemploysaneasier
actioninthepelvisandahighercenter
ofgravity,butitisgenerallyaneasier
posetobalanceinbecauseofthewider
baseofsupportandtheincreasedfree­
Widebaseofsupportprovidesfor
domofthehipjoints.
easierbalance.
(continued)
55
VirabhadrasanaI(continued) Breathing Inallthewarriorposes,positioningandmaintainingthepelvis’relationshipto
VirabhadrasanaI(continued)
Breathing
Inallthewarriorposes,positioningandmaintainingthepelvis’relationshipto
thelegsandtorsorequiresstrongactionintheabdominalwall,whichreduces
thedownwardexcursionofthecentraltendonofthediaphragm.Asaresult,
thecontractionofthediaphragmwillhavemoreofatendencytocreateabrah­
manaeffectbyliftingupwardthebaseoftheribcage—anactionthatwillonly
occurefficientlyifthereisnotunduetensionintheintercostals,chest,andneck
muscles.
Inshort,thechallengingleg,pelvis,andarmpositionsofthewarriorposes
combinetocreateinterestingchallengestothebreathmechanics.
Variation
ExtendedWarriorI
Deltoid
External
obliques
Rectus
Erector
femoris
spinae
Rectus
Latissimus
Adductor
abdominis
dorsi
Vastus
brevis
Psoasmajor
lateralis
andminimus
longus
Gracilis
Rectus
femoris
Peroneals
Hamstrings

Gluteusmedius

Quadriceps

Adductor

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Sartorius Adductors ClassificationandLevel Intermediateasymmetricalstandingbackbend 56
Sartorius Adductors
ClassificationandLevel
Intermediateasymmetricalstandingbackbend
56
JointActions Sameasbasicwarriorbutwithdeeper lumbarextensionagainstanterior tiltofpelvis,adductionoflegs,more
JointActions
Sameasbasicwarriorbutwithdeeper
lumbarextensionagainstanterior
tiltofpelvis,adductionoflegs,more
supinationinbackfoot,adductionof
arms,morerotationinspine.
Working
Spinalextensors(intrinsics,transverso­
spinalis,erectorspinae),anteriorand
middledeltoids,serratusanterior,
pectoralismajorandminor,upper
trapezius,rectusabdominis.Frontleg:
hamstringseccentrically,adductors,
gluteusmediusandminimus.Back
leg:hamstringsconcentrically,glu­
teusmediusandminimus,peroneals,
quadriceps,sartorius.
Lengthening
Latissimusdorsi,rhomboids,rectus
abdominis,externalobliques.Front
leg:quadriceps(atkneejoint),ham­
strings(athipjoint),gluteusmedius
andminimus.Backleg:peroneals,
gluteusmediusandminimus,psoas
major,rectusfemoris(athipjoint).
Long,narrowstance.
Obstacles
Tightnessinpsoasmajorandrectusfemoris.
Weaknessinhamstrings.
Weaknessineccentriccontrolofabductors(forbalance)andquadricepsin
thefrontleg.
Notes
Ifthelatissimusdorsiareusedtodothespinalextensionnecessaryinthisdeeper
action,theywillinterferewiththeliftingandlateralrotationofthearms.
Along,narrowstanceisamorechallengingactioninthepelvis,worksthe
abductorstobalance,andprovidesalowercenterofgravity(i.e.,canbeeasier
tobalance).
Breathing
Thisvariationofthewarriorisusedmostlywhentheposeisdonestatically,with
novinyasa(dynamicmovementintoandoutofanasana).Thehipsandgroin
needtobequiteopen,andthelegsmustbestrongforthebreathingtobecom­
fortableinthisdeeplylungedposition.Ifthelowerbodycan’tprovideeffective
support(sthira)fortheupperbody,therewon’tbeenoughfreedom(sukha)for
easybreathing.
57

VirabhadrasanaII

WarriorII

veer­ah­bah­DRAHS­anna

virabhadra=thenameofafiercemythicalwarrior

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Sternocleidomastoid Plexusnerves Scalenes Gluteus medius Quadriceps Tensor fascialata Rectusfemoris
Sternocleidomastoid
Plexusnerves
Scalenes
Gluteus
medius
Quadriceps
Tensor
fascialata
Rectusfemoris
Vastuslateralis
Ligamentsof
Pectoralis
hipjoint
minor
Brachialplexus.
Vastusmedialis
Subtalar
joint
ClassificationandLevel
Basicasymmetricalstandinghipopener
JointActions
Spineinneutralextension;headrotatedonaxis;scapulaupwardrotation;
upperarmabduction,externalrotation;forearmpronation(opposingspi­
ralsinarms).
Frontleg:Nutation;hipflexion,externalrotation,abduction;kneeflexion;
ankledorsiflexion.
Backleg:Counternutation;hipextension,internalrotation,abduction;knee
extension,externalrotationattibia;ankledorsiflexion;footsupinationat
heel,pronationatforefoot(archlifted,bigtoegrounded).
58

Working

Backhipjoint:Primarilygluteusmedius

andminimus,forinternalrotation

andabduction;gluteusmaximusand

hamstrings,forextension;tensor

fascialatae,forinternalrotation;pec­

tineusforinternalrotation;vastii,to

extendknee.

Fronthipjoint:Hamstringsandquadri­

ceps(eccentrically),gluteusmaximus,

piriformis,obturatorinternusand

externus,quadratusfemoris,gemelli,

gluteusmediusandminimus(poste­

riorfibers).

Lengthening

Semitendinosus

Vastus

lateralis

Adductorlongus

Quadriceps

Gracilis

Adductor

longus

Vastusmedialis

VirabhadrasanaIIextended.

Backhipjoint:Tensorfascialata,iliopsoas.

Fronthipjoint:Hamstringsandquadriceps(vastii).

ObstaclesandNotes

Backhipjoint:Abductionandextensionatthesametimeisachallenging

positionfortheligamentsandcapsuleofthehipjoint.Theworkofthe

abductors(gluteusmediusandminimus)isimportant;theyhelptoliftthe

backkneeawayfromthefloor.Ifthegluteusmediusandminimusare

weakortight,othermuscleswillberecruited,buttheywillalsobringin

externalrotationorflexionatthehip,whichwillshowupasaninabilityto

“ground”thebackfoot.

Backanklejoint:Articulationisneededinthesubtalarjointandthejoints

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sothecalcaneuscanclearlyconnecttothefloor,andtheforefootpronates
sothecalcaneuscanclearlyconnecttothefloor,andtheforefootpronates betweenthetarsalsandmetatarsals:Thebackpartofthefootsupinates
sothetoescanclearlyconnecttothefloor.Ifthefootdoesn’tarticulatein
thisway,theouteranklecanbeoverstretchedandweakened.
Fronthipjoint:Inthisposition,gravitycreatestheflexionatthekneeandhip;
thehamstringsandquadricepsareveryactiveeccentricallytomodulate
thepullofgravity.AswithwarriorI,differentarrangementsofthefeetwill
affectthechallengesofthispose.Themoreextendedstancecreatesdeeper
actionsatallthejointsofthelowerextremities,butwithoutsufficient
muscularstrengthinthelegs(whichcanbedevelopedbyworkinginthe
“basic”stance),stresscanbeplacedonthejointsandconnectivetissues.
Breathing
Seepage56.
59
VirabhadrasanaIII WarriorIII veer­ah­bah­DRAHS­anna virabhadra=thenameofafiercemythicalwarrior Gluteusmaximus
VirabhadrasanaIII
WarriorIII
veer­ah­bah­DRAHS­anna
virabhadra=thenameofafiercemythicalwarrior
Gluteusmaximus
Hamstrings
Hamstrings
Gastrocnemius
ClassificationandLevel
Intermediateasymmetricalstandingbalance
JointActions
Spineaxialextension,shoulderflexionandlateralrotation,elbowextension,
forearmsupination,fingerextension.Frontleg:nutation,hipflexionand
adduction,kneeextension,andankledorsiflexion.Backleg:counternuta­
tion,hipneutralextensionandmedialrotation,kneeextension,ankledor­
siflexion.
Working
Spinalextensorsagainstgravity,abdominalmusclesandpsoasminortomain­
tainaneutralspine.Bothlegs’hamstrings:standinglegeccentrically,back
legconcentricallyagainstgravity.Standinglegabductors:eccentricallyto
maintainlevelpelvis;standingleggluteusmaximus,deeprotatorseccentri­
callytomaintainlevelpelvis.
60
callytomaintainlevelpelvis. 60

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Lengthening Standingleghamstrings,standinglegabductors,gluteusmaximus,deep externalrotators. Obstacles
Lengthening
Standingleghamstrings,standinglegabductors,gluteusmaximus,deep
externalrotators.
Obstacles
Weaknessinspinalandabdominalmuscles.
Tighthamstrings,especiallymedial.
Tightorweakabductorsandrotators(needtobestronginalongposition).
Overusingthegluteusmaximuswillexternallyrotateeitherorbothlegs.
Notes
Thespineisinaxialextension;theworkistomaintainthespinalcurvesinthis
relationshiptogravity,balancingtheabdominalactionwiththebackextensors.If
abdominalsupportislacking,theextensorswilloverwork,andthespinewillarch
excessively.
Gravitydrawstheunsupportedsideofthepelvistowardthefloor.Generally
youdon’tneedtousetheadductorstodothis;instead,theabilityoftheabduc­
torsandexternalrotatorstolengthenwithcontrolisessential(otherwisethe
pelvisisliftedawayfromfloor).
Ifhamstringsaretight,bendingthestandinglegisbetterthanrotatingthe
pelvis.
Breathing
Thebandhas(seepage16)createtheaxialextensionthatsupportsthetorsoin
thispose,andbydefinition,thatreducestheoverallvolumeofthebreath.Ujjayi
breathingisanimportantingredientinthisprocess.
61
UtthitaParsvakonasana ExtendedSideAnglePose oo­TEE­tahparsh­vah­cone­AHS­anna utthita=extended parsva=side,flank
UtthitaParsvakonasana
ExtendedSideAnglePose
oo­TEE­tahparsh­vah­cone­AHS­anna
utthita=extended
parsva=side,flank
kona=angle
Triceps
Serratusanterior
Internalobliques
External
Gluteusmedius
obliques

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Quadriceps Hamstrings ClassificationandLevel Basiclateralstretching,asymmetricalstandingpose JointActions
Quadriceps
Hamstrings
ClassificationandLevel
Basiclateralstretching,asymmetricalstandingpose
JointActions
Spineneutralorwithslightlateralflexion;shoulderabduction,upwardrota­
tion;glenohumeraljointflexionandexternalrotation;elbowextension.
Frontleg:nutation;hipflexion,externalrotation,abduction;kneeflexion;
62

ankledorsiflexion.Backleg:counternutation;hipextension,internalrota­

tion,abduction;kneeextension(externalrotationattibia);ankledorsiflex­

ion;footsupinationatheel;pronationatforefoot.

Working

Frontleg(comparetovirabhadrasanaII):Withincreasedhipflexion,the

eccentricactionofthehamstringsandvastiibecomemoreimportant—the

hamstringsbecausetheyareresistingtheweightofthespineoverthe

frontlegandareworkingatgreaterlength,andthevastiibecausethe

rectusfemorisisshortenedandlesseffectivewithgreaterhipflexion.

Upperside(arm,spine,andbackleg):Serratusanterior,deltoids,triceps,

lowersideexternalobliques,uppersideinternalobliques.Inthebackleg,

theactionissimilartovirabhadrasanaII:primarilygluteusmediusand

minimus(theanteriorfibershelpwithinternalrotation,theposteriorfibers

withabduction);gluteusmaximus,forextension(butnotexternalrota­

tion);tensorfascialata,forinternalrotation(butnotflexion);pectineusfor

internalrotation(butnotflexion);hamstrings(moresemimembranosus);

quadricepstoextendtheknee(morevastiithanrectusfemoris).

Notes

Inthefrontleg,theincreasedhipflexionmakesitmorechallengingtomaintain

abductionandexternalrotationintheleg,whichkeepsthekneefromfalling

inwardorthehipfromswingingout.

Theincreasedhipflexiondoesmakeitpossibleforthelowersideofthe

bodytostaylongandforthespinetomaintainitsneutrallength.Ifthereisnot

enoughhipflexion,thespinewillflexlaterally.

Theupperarm,spine,andbacklegformonecontinuousdiagonalline.Itcan

beachallengetokeepthespineinlinewiththeleginthispositionandnotto

flexinthebackhipjoint.

Breathing

Eventhoughtheuppersideofthebreathingmechanismreceivesastrong

stretchinthisshape,themoreinterestingeffectmaybeonthelowersideofthe

body,wherethedomeofthediaphragmisdrivencraniallybytheforceofgrav­

ityactingontheabdominalorgans.Breathactioninthispositionprovidesvery

usefulasymmetricalstimulationtothediaphragmandalltheorgansattachingto

it.

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63

ParivrttaBaddhaParsvakonasana RevolvedSideAnglePose par­ee­vrt­tahBAH­dahparsh­vah­cone­AHS­anna
ParivrttaBaddhaParsvakonasana
RevolvedSideAnglePose
par­ee­vrt­tahBAH­dahparsh­vah­cone­AHS­anna
parivrtta=twist,revolve
baddha=bound
parsva=side,flank
kona=angle
Erectorspinae(underlatissimus)
Splenius
capitis
Rhomboids
Latissimus
dorsi
Hamstrings
Quadriceps
ClassificationandLevel
Advancedrotatedasymmetricalstandingpose
JointActions
Spinalaxialrotation;scapuladownward(medial)rotation;adductionrightarm
(abductioninitially,thenadductioninleftarmaswell);glenohumeraljoints
internalrotation,extension,adduction;elbowextension.Frontleg:nuta­
tion,hipflexionandadduction,kneeflexion,ankledorsiflexion.Backleg:
hipextensionandadduction,kneeextension.
64

Thespinalrotationworkstheerectorspinaeandinternalobliquesonthesideof thetorsoclosertotheceilingandthetransversospinalisandrotatoresandexter­ nalobliquesonthesideofthetorsoclosertothefrontleg.Allspinalextensors areactivetocounterthespinalflexioncreatedbytheactionofthearms. Thearmbindingworksthesupraspinatustoholdtheheadofthehumerus inthesocket,subscapularis,teresmajor,latissimusdorsi,andrhomboids,while lengtheningtheuppertrapezius,pectoralismajor,pectoralisminor,serratusante­ rior,supraspinatus,infraspinatus,teresminor,anteriordeltoid,andcoracobra­ chialis. Thisarmbindingalsotendstocreatespinalflexion,combinedwithrotation, whichisverychallengingtothejointsanddiscsinthespine.Theforcecreated byrevolvedsideanglemakesthisaverypowerfultwist;itispossibletousethe leverageofthearmsintheirbindingandagainstthelegtoforcethespinepast anappropriaterangeofmotion.Becausethelumbarspineismostlyincapableof axialrotation,overtwistingwillstressthejointsaboveandbelow:thesacroiliacs

andT11­T12.

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ObstaclesandNotes Theanteriorinferiorpartoftheglenohumeraljointcapsuleisthemostvulnerable
ObstaclesandNotes
Theanteriorinferiorpartoftheglenohumeraljointcapsuleisthemostvulnerable
todislocation.Thebindingofthearmsininternalrotationandextensionputs
pressureonthispartofthejointcapsule,especiallyifthescapulaearelimited
intheirmobility.Thiscautionappliestobindingingeneralbecauseitallowsfor
moreleverageorforcetobedirectedintothejoint.
Breathing
Thisposeissimilartorevolvedtriangle,butmoredifficultbecausethestrength,
balance,andflexibilityrequirementsarehigher.Themoreopenthepelvicstruc­
turesare,theeasierthebalanceandbreathingwillbe.Here,theupperbodyis
firmlyboundinrotationagainsttheresistanceofthelowerbody,sothereissig­
nificantresistancetothemovementsofthediaphragm,abdomen,andribcage.
65

Trikonasana

TrianglePose

trik­cone­AHS­anna

tri=three

kona=angle

ClassificationandLevel

Basichip­openingstanding

pose

JointActions

Spineneutralextension,

slightrotation(butnot

muchlateralextension);

headaxialrotation;upper

limbsabduction,external

rotation.Frontleg:hip

externalrotation,flexion,

abduction;kneeextension;

slightankleplantarflexion;

slightfootpronation.Back

leg:hipinternalrotation,

adduction,extension;knee

extension;footsupination.

Working

Tensor

fascia

lata

Gluteus

medius

Sartorius

Piriformis

Frontleg:Iliacus,psoasmajor,piriformis,obturatorinternus(alsoasabduc­

tors),quadratusfemoris,obturatorexternus,gemelli,gluteusmediusand

minimus,gluteusmaximus(externalrotationandabductionfibers),sarto­

rius,hamstrings.

Backleg:Anteriorfibersofgluteusmediusandminimus,adductormagnus,

gluteusmaximus,pectineus,tensorfascialata,semitendinosus,semimem­

branosus,bicepsfemoris.

Lengthening

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Frontleg:Quadratusfemorisandobturatorexternus(workingeccentrically
Frontleg:Quadratusfemorisandobturatorexternus(workingeccentrically asadductors),gemelli,pectineus,gracilis,adductormagnusandminimus,
adductorlongusandbrevis,semitendinosus,semimembranosus,biceps
femoris.
Backleg:Gluteusmediusandminimus(eccentrically),gluteusmaximus,sar­
torius,bicepsfemoris(eccentrically).
66
ObstaclesandNotes Painorsensationinthemedialkneeofthefrontlegcanbefromthegracilisand
ObstaclesandNotes
Painorsensationinthemedialkneeofthefrontlegcanbefromthegracilisand
semitendinosus,whichareespeciallylengthenedinthispositionandcantransfer
straintothejointcapsule.
Itisimportanttokeepthebackofthefrontlegactive(hamstrings)toavoid
kneehyperextension,whichiseasytodowiththeweightofthebodyoverthe
leg.Sensationsfromwithintheknee(oranyjoint)areimportantsignalstostop
whatyou’redoingandadjustyouractionorposition.
Paininthelateralkneeofthebacklegcanbefromtightnessinthemuscles
atthetopoftheiliotibialband(tensorfascialata,gluteusmedius,gluteusmaxi­
mus);theyneedtobothlengthenandengage.Ifthegluteusmediusandmaxi­
musaretightandthelegcan’tadductrelativetothepelvis,thespinewillflex
laterally.Tightnessatthetopoftheiliotibialbandcanalsocontributetotightness
inthebackoftheankle.
Doesthespinerotate?Themorearticulatethesacroiliacjoints,pelvichalves,
andhipjointsare,themorepurelythespinecanstayneutral.Forexample,ifthe
frontleghasatightpectineus,thepelvismayrotatetothefloor,andthespine
willhavetocounterrotatemoretoopenthechest.Restrictionsinanyofthe
otherlower­bodystructuresthatneedtoarticulatewillproducesimilarcompen­
satorychangesfartherupinthesystem.
Variation
UtthitaTrikonasana
oo­TEE­tahtrik­cone­AHS­anna
ExtendedTrianglePose
utthita=extended
Theextendedversionoftriangleproducesmoreacute
anglesbetweenthelegsandtorsoandthefloor.Allthe
samemuscularactionsapply,butatagreaterrangeof
motion.Eventhoughextendedtrianglehasalower Tensor
centerofgravity,itislessstablethanregulartri­
fascialata
angle,becausethemoreextendedthisbaseof
supportbecomes,thelessablethesupporting
muscleswillbetocounterthedownwardpull
ofgravityonthepelvisandtorso.Ifthe
posebecomestooextended,significant
straincanbetransferredtothejointsand
connectivetissueoftheweight­bearing
Semitendinosus
structures.
Gracilis
67

ParivrttaTrikonasana

RevolvedTrianglePose

par­ee­vrit­tahtrik­cone­AHS­anna

parivrtta=toturnaround,revolve

tri=three

kona=angle

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Latissimusdorsi Gluteus maximus Hamstrings Quadriceps ClassificationandLevel
Latissimusdorsi
Gluteus
maximus
Hamstrings
Quadriceps
ClassificationandLevel
Intermediatetwistingasymmetricalstandingpose
68

JointActions

Spine:Neutralextension,axialrotation.

Upperlimbs:Abduction,externalrotation,elbowextension.

Frontleg:Hipflexion,adduction,externalrotation;kneeextension;ankle

slightplantarflexion.

Backleg:Hipmildflexion,internalrotation;kneeextension;ankledorsiflex­

ion;footsupinatedatheel,pronatedatforefoot.

Working

Transversospinalisgroup(especiallymultifidi),erectorspinaegroup,internal

andexternalobliques—tomaintainneutralextensioninthespineagainst

thepullofgravityandthemusculareffortsofthelegandpelvis.

UsingRotatorsandAbductorsforBalance

Workingwhilelengthening:Gluteusmediusandminimus,quadratusfemoris,

obturatorinternusandexternus,gemelli,piriformis.

Lengtheningandreleasing:Gluteusmaximus,hamstrings,latissimusdorsi,

teresmajor.

ObstaclesandNotes

Weaknessintheabductorsandrotatorswillmakeeccentriccontroldifficult.If

thisisthecase,thegluteusmaximusmightberecruited,whichwillcausethe

pelvistotiltposteriorly.Thelowerspinewillthennotbeinneutral,andtherota­

tionofthespinewillnotbearoundthehead­tailaxis.

Breathing

Inrevolvedtriangle,themoreopenthepelvicstructuresare,theeasierthebal­

anceandbreathingwillbe.Otherwise,theupperbodywillbeheldstifflyinrota­

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tionagainsttheresistanceofthelowerbody,andthediaphragm,abdomen,and
tionagainsttheresistanceofthelowerbody,andthediaphragm,abdomen,and
ribcagewillencounterconsiderableresistancetotheirmovements.
69
Parsvottanasana IntenseSideStretch parsh­voh­tahn­AHS­anna parsva=side,flank ut=intense tan=tostretch
Parsvottanasana
IntenseSideStretch
parsh­voh­tahn­AHS­anna
parsva=side,flank
ut=intense
tan=tostretch
Gluteusmedius
Pelvicfloor
muscles
Erectorspinae
Hamstrings
Gastrocnemius
Quadriceps
Soleus
ClassificationandLevel
Basicasymmetricalforward­bendingstandingpose
JointActions
Spineflexion(mild);nutationinfrontleg;counternutationinbackleg.Front
leg:deephipflexion,kneeextension,ankledorsiflexion.Backleg:hipflex­
ion,medialrotation;kneeextension;deepdorsiflexioninankle.
70

KeyStructures

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Articulatepelvisandpelvicfloor,hamstrings,feetandabductorsforbalance. Working
Articulatepelvisandpelvicfloor,hamstrings,feetandabductorsforbalance.
Working
Pelvicfloor(toarticulatesittingbones),quadricepsandarticularisgenus,
abductors(gluteusmediusandminimusforbalance),feetandlowerleg
muscles(forbalance).
Lengthening
Hamstrings(especiallyfrontleg),gluteusmaximus(especiallyfrontleg),
soleusandgastrocnemius(backleg),abductors,spinalerectormuscles.
Obstacles
Tighthamstrings,gluteusmaximus,soleus,gastrocnemius.
Weakortightabductorswillmakeitdifficulttonarrowstance.
Tightspinalmuscles.
Notes
Thisforwardbendismoreintenseinthehamstringsthanuttanasanabecausethe
positionofthebacklegdirectsmoreoftheflexionintothehipjoint,andspinal
flexibilityislessofanissue.
Althoughthebacklegispositionedwiththelegturnedout,theactionofthe
musclesistowardinternalrotation,tobringthepelvisintoalignment(butnot
toomuch;canbeoverdone).Thebackfootalsomovestowardsupination,to
countertheinnerrollingofthearchofthefoot.
Breathing
Theactionofexhalingfromthelowerabdomenhelpstopositionthepelvison
thethighs,andtheactionofinhalingintothethoracicregionhelpstolengthen
thespine.
(continued)
71
Parsvottanasana(continued) ParsvottanasanaVariation WithArmsinReverseNamaskar Serratus anterior Latissimus dorsi
Parsvottanasana(continued)
ParsvottanasanaVariation
WithArmsinReverseNamaskar
Serratus
anterior
Latissimus
dorsi
Infraspinatus
Subscapularis
Deltoid
Trapezius

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ClassificationandLevel Intermediateasymmetricalforward­bendingstandingpose JointActions
ClassificationandLevel
Intermediateasymmetricalforward­bendingstandingpose
JointActions
Downwardrotation,adductionofscapulaeonribcage;extensionandmedial
rotationatglenohumeraljoint;elbowflexion;forearmpronation;wrist
dorsiflexion;handextension.
72

KeyStructures

Scapulaearticulatingonribcage,forearmandwristmobility.

Working

Subscapularis;teresmajor;latissimusdorsi;rhomboids;lower,mid­,andupper

trapezius.

Lengthening

Infraspinatus;teresminor;serratusanterior;anteriordeltoids;pectoralismajor

andminor,ifscapulaeareadducted.

Obstacles

Overuseofthelatissimusdorsiwillinterferewiththeabilityofthespineto

flex.

Tightpectorals,tightdeltoids,tightshoulderjointcapsule.

Notes

Thisarmpositionismosteasilydonewiththescapulaeabducted.Asthepose

deepens,thescapulaemovebackintoadduction.

73

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PrasaritaPadottanasana Wide­StanceForwardBend
PrasaritaPadottanasana Wide­StanceForwardBend pra­sa­REE­tahpah­doh­tahn­AHS­anna prasarita=spread,expanded
PrasaritaPadottanasana
Wide­StanceForwardBend
pra­sa­REE­tahpah­doh­tahn­AHS­anna
prasarita=spread,expanded
pada=foot
ut=intense
tan=tostretchout
Gluteus
maximus
Tibialis
anterior
Erector
spinae
Gluteusmaximus
Bicepsfemoris
Adductormagnus
Semitendinosus
Gracilis
Semimembranosus
Popliteus
Gastrocnemius
Tibialis
posterior
Flexor
Diaphragm
hallucis
Flexor
longus
digitorum
longus
ClassificationandLevel
Basicstandingpose,invertedsymmetricalforwardbend
JointActions
Flexionandabductionathips,kneeextension,mildspinalflexion,mildmedial
rotationathipsorknees,pronationandsupinationatfeetforbalance.
74

KeyStructures

Tibialisanterior

Abductorsandadductorsofhips,

medialhamstrings,ankles(feet

andforelegs).

Working

Flexordigitorum

longus

Flexorhallucis

longus

Quadricepsandarticularisgenus

(concentricallytobringkneesinto

extensionandkeepkneecaps

lifted);adductors(eccentrically,

workingagainstthebodyweight

fallingtowardthefloor);abduc­

tors(concentrically,toundothekneesfallinginwardandarchesdropping);

intrinsicandextrinsicmusclesofthefeet(todirecttheweightthroughthe

calcaneusandnotonlytheouteredgeofthefoot;thebalanceofsupi­

nationandpronationissimilartothebackleginasymmetricalstanding

Extrinsicmusclesofarchsupport—

medialankle.

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poses). Lengthening Adductors,indescendingorder:adductormagnus,adductorminimus,adduc­
poses).
Lengthening
Adductors,indescendingorder:adductormagnus,adductorminimus,adduc­
torlongus,adductorbrevis,gracilis—exceptingpectineus(becauseofhip
flexion,onslack).Hamstrings(particularlysemitendinosus—theabduction
ofthelegsputsmorestretchintothemedialhamstrings);spinalextensors;
gluteusmaximus,aspartofhipflexion.Iflegsaremediallyrotated,may
getsomestretchthroughquadratusfemoris,obturatorexternus.
Asthelegsseparate(abduct),differenthamstringsareaffectedmoreorless
stronglyaswellasdifferentadductors.Becausesomeoftheadductorsalsoact
ashipflexors,theyaren’tstretchedinthisposition.Thestandingpreparationfor
thispose(standinguprightwiththehipsinneutralextension)wouldbemoreof
astretchforthepectineusandsomefibersoftheadductorbrevisandgracilis.
Breathing
Wide­stanceforwardbendisprobablythesafest,mostaccessibleinversionin
allofyogapractice.Themorefirmlythelegscancreatesupport,whileatthe
sametimeallowingthepelvistofreelyrotateforwardatthehipjoints,themore
relaxedthetorsoandbreathingwillbe.Thisinversionprovidesmildtractionand
releasetothespine,whilereversingtheusualactionofthebreath.
Hangingupsidedown,thediaphragmispulledcraniallybygravity,thusfavor­
ingtheexhalationandthevenousreturnfromthelowerbody.Whileinhaling,
thediaphragmpushestheweightoftheabdominalorganscaudally,against
gravity,whileatthesametimemobilizingthecostovertebraljointsinthethoracic
spine,whichisbeingtractionedopen.Allthesealteredmuscularactionscanhelp
normalizecirculationinbothmusclesandorgansthatareconstantlysubjectedto
theusualstressesofuprightweightbearing.
75

Upavesasana

Squat—Sitting­DownPose

oo­pah­ve­SHAHS­anna

upavesa=sittingdown,seat

Note:Thisposeisalmostnever

referredtobyaSanskritname,

butthereissomeprecedentfor

thenamegivenhere.

ClassificationandLevel

Basicsymmetricalstanding

pose

JointActions

Spinalaxialextension;gle­

nohumeraljointexternal

rotation,adduction;elbow

flexion;forearmpronation;

wristdorsiflexion;sacrum

nutation;hipflexion,exter­

nalrotation,abduction;

kneeflexion;ankledorsi­

flexion.

Flexor

hallucis

Thepelvicfloorcanbecon­

tactedeasilyinthisposition,

whereitworkssynergisti­

callytoinitiateexhaling,

andreleasessometonein

responsetothedownward Abductor

pressureexertedbythe

thoracicdiaphragmwhen

inhaling.

Adductorbrevis

hallucis

digitiminimi

Quadratus

Thoracicdiaphragm

Crura

Lumbricals

Quadratus

femoris

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plantae Levator ani Pelvic Obturator Coccyxfloor internus Notecontinuityofanteriorlongitudinalligamentwith
plantae
Levator ani
Pelvic
Obturator
Coccyxfloor
internus
Notecontinuityofanteriorlongitudinalligamentwith
cruraandcoccyx.
76
Working Pelvicfloor:Obturatorinternus,levatorani.Isometrically:piriformis,obtura­
Working
Pelvicfloor:Obturatorinternus,levatorani.Isometrically:piriformis,obtura­
torexternus,twogemelli,quadratusfemoris,bicepsfemoris,semitendi­
nosus,semimembranosus,adductormagnus(longhead).Thelegsshould
stayactive;otherwisethedeepflexiontendstocollapsethehipjoints,
makingitmorechallengingtoactivatethepelvicfloor.
Foot:Lumbricals,quadratusplantae,adductorhallucis,flexorhallucisbrevis,
flexordigitorumbrevis,opponensandflexordigitiminimi,abductordigiti
minimi.
Lengthening
Adductorlongus,adductorbrevis,hamstrings,gastrocnemius,soleus,plantaris
(notthegracilis,becauseofkneeflexion).
ObstaclesandNotes
Theinabilitytodorsiflextheankledeeplyenoughtokeeptheheelsonthefloor
canbeduetoshortnessintheAchillestendon(specificallythesoleus,inthis
position);however,restrictioncanalsobeinthefrontoftheankle.Aquickfixis
availablebyusingsupportundertheheels,butit’simportantnottobecometoo
reliantonit,becauseitwillpreventactivationoftheintrinsicmusclesofthefeet,
whichstabilizesthearches,allowsdeeperflexionintheankle,andalignsthe
bonesofthefootandkneejoint.Lookforthetendonoftheanteriortibialispop­
pingforward;thisisatelltalesignthatdeepsupportislacking.Letgravitycreate
theflexion,andusetheintrinsicmusclestomaintainintegrity.
Breathing
Thisposeoffersanopportunitytopowerfullylengthenallthreecurvesofthe
spine(axialextension).Bydefinitionthisusuallyengagesallthreebandhas,and
inthisposition,thedeepsupportinthearchesofthefeetenergeticallyfeedsinto
theliftingactionofthepelvicfloorandlowerabdominalmuscles(mulabandha).
Thebracingoftheelbowsagainstthekneesallowsforastronglengthening
ofthethoracicspineandliftingofthebaseoftheribcageandrespiratorydia­
phragm(uddiyanabandha).Thechin­lockofjalandharabandhacompletesthe
actionofaxialextensionandessentiallyfreezesoutthenormalrespiratoryshape
changesofbreathing.Thisiswhentheunusualpatternofbreathassociatedwith
mahamudracanarisedeepinthecoreofthesystem(susumna).
77

sittingposes

5

ormanypeopleintheindustrializedworld,sitting(ormorelikely,slouching)onapieceof F furnitureisthebodypositioninwhichtheyspendmostoftheirwakinghours.Whatshoes

aretothefeet,chairs,carseats,andcouchesaretothepelvicjointsandlowerspine.

InIndia,evenwell­to­dofamiliesfrequentlyeschewtheuseoffurnitureintheirhomes—

preferringtosit,dine,andsometimesevensleeponthefloor.Notsurprisingly,theWestern

epidemicoflower­backpainisalmostunknowninthatpartoftheworld.

2017­6­12

https://www.pdf.investintech.com/preview/e0415d34­4f96­11e7­922a­002590d31986/index.html

Inyogapractice,justasthebarefeetdevelopanewrelationshipwiththegroundthrough
Inyogapractice,j