I use a lot of visual cues that I when teaching. I am trying my best to give a simple image that a student or client can walk away with and call back when useful. A wrinkle or lack of a wrinkle at the back of the neck when we do forwards bends is a telltale sign of what is going on in someone’s practice and a great thing to feel for in your own body as you do yoga.
Teaching group yoga classes offers a unique view of the body. Patterns and habits display differently when you are looking at multiple bodies all in a row. A fun example of this is one of my favorite exercises—Tennis ball under foot—that I offered this past weekend at an anatomy training.
Tennis ball under foot is a great exercise in and of itself but it also has a great visual effect after a group of people has all done the exercise on the same foot. When they finish rolling the ball under foot and bend over into a standing forward bend it looks like the whole room is listing to one side as the worked side of the body is that much longer than the other—the legs, shoulders and arms of the worked side look and feel inches longer.
A not so fun example of repetitive habits and patterns is watching what people do in their normal standing forward bend. Personally I would like to live in a standing forward bend. I do one within minutes of waking up each morning; hanging over and toning my belly I can feel the whole back of my body stretching and opening to prepare for the day ahead.
Back to the habit and patterns—when I put a group into that same forward bend, half of the class usually bends over and let’s go while the other half bends over and holds their head slightly up.
When the head is held up even a tiny bit there will be a wrinkle in the skin at the all-important juncture where the head meets the spine, technically known as the atlanto-occipital joint.
These blog posts aren’t for everybody because everybody has different issues to deal with. In this instance you might not relate at all to what I am talking about but I hope that over time I cover topics that will ultimately resonate with everyone because we all have something to deal with.
Do a forward bend and see what your natural tendencies are. Get to know yourself.