A change of perspective...
We need to start by thinking of the body differently - beyond the simplistic pulleys and levers model. Muscle tissue comes in many different forms to accommodate the many different jobs it is required to do. When we think of muscle we are mostly talking about the superficial musculature that isdesigned to respond rapidly to our environment (and our intentions). I believe that Yoga works at the deeper level of the core postural support and connective and muscle tissue - the stuff responsible for organizing our entire structure from skeleton to position of vital organs.
LETTING GO INTO A POSTURE!
When the quick-twitch, rapid response ‘white’ muscle tissue relaxes in a posture, the deeper, slower to respond (at first) postural support ‘red’ muscle tissue is required to start doing it’s job. When you experience this core level awakening for yourself, you will understand the incredible level of work involved in “releasing” into a posture.
...MOVING FROM THE CORE
One very clear principle that I have understood from the osteopath yoga teachers that I have worked with, is that when there is a lack of core postural support, we have to hold ourselves up with effort in the muscles that aren’t designed for the job (white muscle tissue is used for short busts of effort and has a blood supply to match). The muscles gets tired of holding us up so the body finds ways to build support for the effort - collagenous tissue is laid down - so we get stiff in our joints, and restricted in our movement.
Most of us in the West have some level of core collapse going on. One way of waking it up is to work the body so hard that the superficial effort eventually finds it’s way into the core - you see this in top atheletes gymnasts and dancers. The trouble is that the ambition and extreme effort involved often lead to injury at a level that doesn’t reveal itself until they stop. We all know that if you start working out you can build up muscle tone and bulk fairly rapidly, and that within a few of weeks of stopping, it all turns to flab. Postural muscles behave differently.
THE SPINE EXTENDS WHEN WE BREATH OUT!
The pressure of the inhale can of course support us in one way - that is one of the reasons we tend to hold our breath during effort. But it is when we exhale that all those deep postural muscles come into play creating a wave of support that unlocks the curves of the spine from the base up - we elongate as we breath out!
This is where this ('Scaravelli inspired') yoga has a slightly different understanding of the use of the breath. Other ‘methods’ seem to suggest that we should back bend using the inhale and forward bend on the exhale because it is easier. I would say (as would anatomists, osteopaths and all practitioners that have experienced it) that whatever you’re doing, you should just feel supported by the breath (in or out). Employing breathing techniques such as Ujayi and core reorganisation techniques such a Mula , Uddiyana and Jalandhara bandhas, can be very useful, but their engagement is far better understood when we find natural sources
In remaining present to what we are attempting to achieve (support and freedom in equal measure), the techniques simply become part of the practitioner's tools to refine the beauty and simplicity of the relationships between the breath, the spine and the ground beneath our feet.
(aka Marc Woolford)