To that end, Sensational yoga poses teaches you not only how to control your body, but how to feel it also.
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Pain is a pretty useful signal. In general, it's your brain telling you something isn't right.
Muscle control (and varying the relationship or "alignment" between bones) is one way of changing the way you do a pose or movement to see if the pain signal turns of.
If there's nothing wrong with your body but your brain thinks that there is, then muscle control can be a way of tricking the brain back into turning the pain signal off.
To combat poor posture (winging shoulder blades, head forwards posture etc), learn to feel your bones and muscles as well as control how they relate.
Whether trying to alleviate pain or poor posture, or simply trying to improve the way you use your body, it helps to have some guidelines. Thats, where the principles of muscle control come in.
Muscle activation creates force which drives movement or creates stability. This same force also creates sensation.
Muscles aren't just engines for driving movement, they are how we feel our body.
Muscle tension varies the tension in the joint capsule envelope which in turn controls pressure of the synovial fluid within the joint capsule. This pressure forces fluid between mating joint surfaces, keeping the joint lubricated.
This method of lubrication is called "Hydrostatic Lubrication".
Muscle activation affects joint capsule tension via tendons, ligaments and bursae.
For the most part, ligaments are "active" structures. They are directly affected by muscle activation!
Sufficiently pressurized synovial fluid allows bones to adjust relative to each other which tension to be distributed throughout the joint capsule.
In order for us to have the variety of movement and posture possibilities that we have, muscles overlap. As we move from one posture to another, as we change the shape of your body, muscles hand off to other muscles in a smooth progression.
The brain can use this same overlap to keep joints protected in the case where one muscle isn't working.
This then causes difficulty in some movements (because muscles are being used for other tasks) and over time can lead to pain from overuse.
Muscles not only create force, they need a force to work against for sustained activation.
As an example, if you flex your biceps, you'll notice that your triceps also activates. (You can also notice that your elbow is stabilized while you are flexing your biceps.)
Muscles can work against some external force or weight, they can also work against each other. But in order to create non-momentary sensation, there needs to be some force for a muscle to work against.
Because of the need to keep joints lubricated, and because of the overlap in function of the muscle system, and because muscles need an opposing force to work against, there is a logic to muscle control that is similiar in some ways to "relay logic."
Electrical relays can be set up in a way that certain relays stay on or off until another relay changes state. If a muscle won't turn on or turn off it may be because the "state" of another muscle is preventing it from turning on or off.
Muscle logic also extends to posture. Posture affects muscle control just as muscle control affects posture.
For effective muscle control, one end of the muscle being controlled needs to be anchored. This can include engaging muscles in the same "muscle train.". It can also include "fixing" or stabilizing one of the bones to which the muscle attaches.
Muscles are effective when they are "lengthened" just the right amount. If the distance a muscle spans is too short, or too long, it becomes that much more difficult to activate a muscle effectively.
And so a part of effective muscle control can include giving muscles room to move.
Sensational Leg Anatomy offers an introduction to leg control.
Rather than focusing on different postures, it focuses on feeling and controlling the muscles of your legs while standing (and in a few cases, while sitting in a chair.)
Here the focus is purely on learning to feel and control the muscles of your legs.
What leg anatomy can you learn while standing? In a nutshell, the anatomy that can help you begin to understand knee and hip problems and even in some cases SI joint problems.
You'll also learn how to self-adjust, which is the equivalent of tuning a guitar. But instead of sounding right your body will "feel" right.
Read the intro to Sensational Leg Anatomy to learn more.
If you are going to try and fix any problems of pain yourself, I'd suggest that part of that process includes learning to feel and control your body.
The feeling/sensing part is how you try to diagnose what is causing the problem. The controlling part is what you do to fix the problem.
Learning to feel and control your body is a very long process. And you may find yourself going in circles, till you figure out what you need to do in order to go deeper. But if you deal with problems in other areas, the same process applies. In either case, the better you understand what you are dealing with, the easier it is to fix problems, (or redefine problems so that they are fixable.)
If posture (or a lack of good posture) is the problem, the same thing applies. Practice feeling your body and controlling it so that you can then find good posture with minimum effort.
Most breathing exercises are actually exercises in muscle control.
Bar focusing on the actual passage of breath through your nostrils, throat or mouth, most breath control exercises ask you focus on feeling the sensations generated by your respiratory muscles.
And so one way to think of muscle control is that it is like a breathing exercise, particularly if you practice activating and relaxing muscles slowly and smoothly.
Muscle control is what allows you to consciously feel and control your body.
It's via muscle control that you can develop proprioception (a fancy word for "feeling your body".)
With respect to the posture, movement, muscle control and proprioception, tensegrity is the state where you've optimized tension throughout the body so that you can sense and respond simultaneously.
You could think of it as being tuned, like a guitar or violin.
The better you understand consciousness, the easier it can be to apply what you learn in yoga to other aspects of your life.
I'll suggest here that thinking, and ego, aren't bad things.
They are handy tools to have.
Thinking (and ego) are how we create limits, or definitions. Limits are tools that we can use to make learning more effective. The trick is learning to get rid of limits when they no longer serve.
Being present is a state of consciousness where we aren't thinking, but we are aware. It's the state of mind where we become fully immersed in the present moment so that time seems to stop.
You could think of being present as the equivalent of expanding your consciousness into the space of your immediate environment while when thinking your consciousness is expanded across time in "imaginary space".
How does this relate to yoga?
The more you focus on feeling your body and controlling it, the more present you become, and the less you think. And that's one reason for the focus on sensation, particularly tension and pressure. These sensations give you something to pay attention to in the present moment.
Thinking, or analyzing is also important because this is how you look back on your experience of your body from another point of view.
Both points of view help you to better understand your body.
All of my yoga ebooks and videos are designed to help you have a better experience of your body. Currently you can find a list of them on my Neil Keleher page.
Sensational yoga poses are a way of Learning Your Body.
The easier it is then to improve strength, improve flexibility, coordination, or simply the ability to "be present" in your body.
When I first started doing yoga I learned and then practiced the Ashtanga yoga primary series of yoga poses.
It's a set series of yoga poses that I learned by memorizing little bits at a time.
Create a stable foundation.
Feel and control the muscles you are trying to stretch (and the muscles that oppose those muscles).
In meridian stretching you can focus on relaxing the muscle being stretched so that you stretch the connective tissue within the muscle itself.
Although you are trying to relax the muscle you are stretching, the goal isn't to relax completely. You still need to stabilize or anchor one end of the muscle being stretched.
One advantage of meridian stretching is that it can leave you feeling refreshed.
Balance is about feeling and controlling your relationship with the earth.
As you get better at feeling and controlling this relationship you can apply the same ideas to feeling and controlling the relationships within your body, at least at the musculoskeletal level.
And that's where the anatomy and biomechanics section comes in.
The study of anatomy and biomechanics can be used to help guide how you explore your own body.
The idea here isn't just to talk about, say, the insertion and origin of the biceps muscle (I would just say attachment points) but to actually feel those end points and the muscle that pulls them towards each other in your own body.
Interested in learning how to feel and control your leg muscles?
Sensational Leg Anatomy includes a series of videos teaching simple muscle control exercises. The whole series teaches you to feel and control the major muscles of the legs from the hip bones down to the toes.
You can also get it as part of the Muscle Control Package(Learn to Feel Your Body)
Muscle control not only helps you to control your body, it also helps you to feel it making it easier to balance, improve flexibility and deal with pain and poor posture.
The dance of shiva is handy if you are interested in improving upper body balance and coordination.