The transverse abdominis is a belt like muscle that passes around the waist, but also covers the front opening of the pelvic bowl and the front opening of the lower ribcage.
Together these three bands can help to stabilize the lower ribcage, the thoracolumbar junction and the SI joints.
It can help to train them in isolation so that they can be used more effectively together. Hence the simple transverse abdominis exercises covered on this page.… continue reading: Transverse abdominis Exercises
Apart from opposing the diaphragm in diaphragmatic and reverse breathing, the Transverse Abdominis (TA) can play a role in stabilizing the sacroiliac joints, lumbar spine and lower thoracic spine. It can also help in stabilizing the connection between the lumbar and thoracic spine at T12/L1.
To understand how it can stabilize this entire region of the spine it can help to divide the Transverse Abdominis into three parts. This isn't to say that it consists of three parts. It is an aid to understanding; a temporary model to help understand the TA and how it can work. It's one aspect of the whole, a focused point of view, but only one. For complete understanding we need multiple points of view.
The transverse abdominis can be used to pull your belly inwards.
When pulling your belly inwards, a good hint that you are activating your transverse abdominis is that you can pull your belly inwards past the border of your ribcage and pelvis.
If you find that you inhale when doing this then you aren't using your transverse abdominis. Instead, you are pulling your ribcage up and using suction to pull your belly inwards.
Generally, this type of activation, sucking the belly inwards, is accompanied by an inhale. Using the transverse abdominis to pull the belly in should cause an exhale.… continue reading: Transverse Abdominis Training
Yoga poses grouped by category and action to help you find information on specific yoga poses easily. Learn how to work towards particular types of yoga poses whether they are arm balances, binding poses, inversions, back bends, forward bends, twists, side bends, balancing poses, or poses where you are standing on one foot. Also included, poses from the ashtanga yoga primary series.… continue reading: Yoga Poses
In general, connective tissue provides passive proprioceptive information when it is stretched.
Because connective tissue is a component of both joints (the joint capsule, tendons, ligaments) as well as muscles (investing fascia as well as tendons and ligaments), connective tissue tension can be used to help the brain assess tension in joint capsules as well as the amount of stretch a muscle is subject to.
By itself, this information isn't enough to give the brain a full picture of how the parts of the body relate, but it is an important component of the brains sense of how the parts of the body are currently configured.… continue reading: Connective tissue tension
If we understand how muscles affect joints and bones, we can use that basic unit of understanding to better understand movement possibilities as well as to make it easier to improve strength, flexibility, deal with muscle and joint pain and even to simply enjoy the experience of our body.
Muscles work across joints to move bones relative to each other or to keep bones stable relative to each other. We use muscles to move our body, and to hold it still.
A good starting point for trying to understand how muscles and joints work together to control our bones is to look at different types of pulley systems. The main reason for doing this is to understand how systems with multiple pulleys can reduce the force required to lift the same load.
What's the difference between an experienced yogi's yoga pose and a beginners, even a simple yoga pose that doesn't require much flexibility? Often its a sense of expansiveness in the pose. It's bigness but without wasted effort. It is like the experienced yogi is filling their pose with awareness.
There are a few ways to side bend the spine but one of my current favored methods is to focus on active side bends. That means activating the muscles on the short side of the side bend. I do like to also focus on the opening side but the advantage of focusing on the short side is the sensation is easier to feel.
One of the challenges is in positions where it is easy to let gravity drive the side bend. And so one way that I teach side bending is to use poses where the short side of the side bend is lower than the open side.
A simple idea you can work on when practicing these 11 basic balance poses is the idea of keeping your body still. More precisely, work on keeping your ribcage and pelvis still.
To keep your ribcage and pelvis still, you have to be able to feel them. If you can feel them, you can then notice when they start to move.
You can then work at preventing the movement.
Standing yoga poses can be used in a variety of different ways.
Rather than saying "This Pose Does This", the idea is that you can have a particular intent and then do the poses in such a way as to suit that intent.
I've had a couple of people say that they want to study the dance of shiva with me.
My first suggestion to them, before they spend all of that money (while my classes aren't expensive, I do live in Taiwan) is to learn the 8 basic positions of the Dance of shiva.
These 8 positions form the basis of the 64 complete positions.
The second suggestion is to learn the 8 basic movements after the positions have been learned.
These 8 movements form the basis of the 64 possible movements from each of those arm positions.
Learning to feel and control our body from a first principles approach means that we can apply that same awareness and control to any activity where we are using our body.
With respect to feeling and controlling your own body (or teaching others to control their body), muscles (and joints, and bones, and connective tissue spans) are the things that we can learn to feel and control.
A first principles approach also involves learning to feel and control how our body relates to the earth, and anything else (or anyone else) it is in direct physical contact with.… continue reading: First Principles
In the course of dealing with various knee injuries, I learned that the knees do indeed rotate and that we have muscles that control knee rotation. I further learned that these same muscles can actually be used to help improve flexibility. These muscles help to stabilize the knee, by controlling knee rotation. It took some figuring out though.… continue reading: Controlling knee rotation
One of the smallest (and seemingly most innocuous) muscles that acts directly on the knee joint, and only on the knee joint, is the popliteus muscle.
It's an internal knee rotator meaning that it resists external rotation of the tibia relative to the femur, or helps to drive internal rotation of the tibia relative to the femur.
The three vastus muscles are part of the quadriceps group. They are located at the front of the thigh and work to straighten the knee (or resist it being bent).
As well as working on the knee joint, these three muscles may act as tensioning devices for the muscles that pass over them.
In standing yoga poses you may help prevent premature wearing out of your hips if you put into practice the idea of adjusting your standing yoga poses.
The idea isn't to take it easy on your hip joints, but to actively use them in a way that strengthens the muscles of the hip joint.
The reasoning behind this is that muscle tension helps to control joint capsule tension which helps to keep your hip joints lubricated.
The short head of the biceps femoris muscle attaches along the back of the femur. From there it has a tendon that crosses the back outer corner of the knee to attach to the top of the fibula.
Working from an anchored thigh bone, and assuming the knee is bent, the short head of the biceps femoris can activate to create a rearwards pull on the top of the fibula. This can either be used to create external rotation of the lower leg bones relative to the thigh bone or it can be used to resist internal rotation.
In either case, this action can help to anchor muscles of the lower leg that help to lift the inner arch of the foot (and prevent a collapsed foot arch.)
Knee basics We tend to think that all the knee joint does is bend and straighten. But the knee does a little bit more than bend and straighten. When the knee is bent, the knee joint actually allows the shin to rotate relative to the thigh. However, this ability is restricted when the knee is straight.
Why is it important to understand this simple idea?
There are muscles that can be used to stabilize the shin, to prevent it from rotating. These same muscles can also be used to deliberately rotate the shin. So as well as being able to use knee muscles to bend and straighten your knee, you can also use knee muscles to rotate the shin relative to the femur or keep the shin rotationally stable relative to the femur.
And so what happens when the knee is straight?
If these muscles work to rotate or stabilize the shin against rotation, what purpose do they serve when the knee is straight? Well, then they can be used to help rotate the shin and femur together relative to the hip joint.
So why do the knees allow the shins to rotate?
Because the shins can rotate at the knees when the knees are bent we can squat with our feet at varying distances apart. It also allows us to easily adjust foot position when one or both knees are bent and supporting our body weight. In terms of yoga poses, it allows us to use leg positions like the various janu sirsasana variations as well as virasana and lotus.
The ability for our shins to rotate at the knees is a way of allowing us to use our legs with greater flexibility. It allows us to use our feet in more ways without putting undue stress on our knees. And so one idea here is that if you want to look after your knees (or help keep them pain free) practice controlling them through all their ranges of movement.
The better you understand your hips joints the easier it is to stablize them and control them. It can also be easier to maintain hip joint health and deal with hip problems. Note that hip joint control necessarily includes proprioception of the hip joint. You have to be able to feel it in order to stabilize and/or control the hip joint.
Keeping your hip joints lubricated and healthy
Keeping your hip joints lubricated, and healthy, may not be that difficult if you understand how your hip muscles work, how you can learn to feel your hip muscles (so that you know that they are working) and, how your hip joints are kept lubricated in the first place.
Note that knowing how your hip joints are lubricated isn't just important as a matter of interest. It's important because if you understand how your hips are lubricated, and it's pretty simple, you can take the necessary steps to help keep them lubricated. And that means longer lasting hips, and the chance to avoid hip replacement surgery.
It's also an important point when dealing with hip pain. The assumption here is that hip pain is a result of your brain trying to keep your hip joint (and other joints) safe. I'm giving away the game here, but muscle control is a key component of hip joint lubrication (and joint lubrication in general), particularly when the hips are under load.
An interesting point is that for the people building replacement hips, lubrication is an important question also. The better they can keep an artificial hip lubricated, the longer it lasts. So you gotta figure, if lubrication is important with an artificial hip, it's going to be important for the hip joints you are born with.
When working towards the middle splits, the knee joints can be under a lot of stress. (This is whether or not you are using your arms to help support body weight.) The further apart you get your feet, the more stress the knee joints are under. If you know how to maintain knee joint integrity, you may find that you can go deeper into the middle splits.… continue reading: Knee Joint Integrity and Middle Splits
I've talked in other articles about knee strengthening and knee stability. At the time of writing my thoughts where that, for knee strength and stability, engage the quadriceps and hamstrings.
I'm not going to say that they aren't important, but I've begun experimenting with calf activation and activating the calfs seems to be a good way of strengthening the knees in a variety of standing poses, and even in some lifted leg poses.… continue reading: Knee Strengthening
If you've ever wrung a cloth, or twisted one, you've seen how it get's stiffer the tighter you wring it. Apart from rolling the thighs in and out, the hip rotators, both internal and external can be used to a similiar effect. They can be used to tighten or stabilize the hip joints. In the same way the shoulder rotators can be used to stabilize the shoulder joint.
Rather than focusing on rotator muscles, the focus will be on actions, rotating inwards and outwards and also noticing how those actions feel.
We tend to think of the knee as a simple hinge joint. As a result it's easy to suggest that all the knee does is bend and straighten. But when the knee is bent it also allows the shin to rotate relative to the thigh. And so when stabilizing the knee it helps to think of stability both in terms of stabilizing or resisting changes in knee bend as well as changes in shin rotation.
One way to think of hip joint stability is that it is activating the hip muscles in such a way that they can resist change. Another way to think of it is that when you activate your hip muscles in opposition, you can then use that activation to control the positioning of the hip joint. Whether doing hip strengthening exercises or working to improve hip flexibility, hip stability and hip control can help.
One simple method for creating hip joint stability is to focus on creating space between the ball and socket of the hip joint. This can feel like lengthening the leg .
Another method is to focus on tightening the musculature around the hip joint. This can feel like sucking the ball of the hip into the hip socket .
Learn how to use hip joint stability to improve your forward bend and other poses where the hips are heavily used.
8 book Ebook bundle, $48.00.
Dance of shiva for coordination and mental flexibility, balance basics for understanding balance, yoga basics 1 and 2 for getting a feel for your body, hip control guide and yoga for your shoulders for learning your hips and shoulders, wheel pose for tips on learning difficult poses and know to flow to learn how you can use flow and it's opposite state for enjoyable learning.