Popular culture seems to believe that the body is fundamentally flawed...
.. and that part of the ageing process involves a gradual submission to gravity as we get older and weaker. So the way a lot of bodywork and even yoga is approached, is from this paradigm of conflict. Working with this intent will build the kind of superficial strength that uses musculature to lift and hold the body's weight - a pulley and lever system that is simply not sustainable - the body collapses as soon as you stop holding it up.
The revolutionary thing that I am saying (and the difficult thing to grasp) is that we should STOP holding ourselves up, and start putting our efforts into working out better ways of supporting ourselves. When we have true structural support, something quite magical happens in our bodies ... we release the breath, and instead of the usual heavy collapse that most of us experience, the release of tension travels through the structure and creates a light 'rebound' effect through each and every joint space within the body. So we let go, and in the process we grow taller, stronger and more energised. What's even more radical is that this is something that we can refine with age... it becomes possible to become taller and stronger with age..(I was born 1961 and feel i have more energy now than I did in my 20s)
This approach to yoga sounds effortless, and when we are perfect integrated and perfectly in line with the pull of gravity, it is, but in the journey towards integration there is some work to be done. To understand how to work to develop this, it is useful to let go of the pulleys and levers model of the body and replace it with a fluid system...
Imagine the body as a human-shaped bag of fluid inside of which is another skeleton-shaped bag that contains bones floating in sinovial fluid. Now think of squeezing the whole thing together around the middle, and you will get an idea of how the body can extend out in all directions courtesy of fluid mechanics (I sometimes talk about imagining you are a starfish being squeezed in the centre). The extension is outwards through the structure, and it is driven by the musculature gathering together around the fluid that contains the structure (gather in to open out, or open out to gather in). And if you think about the nature of hydraulic strength you get an idea of how powerful this movement is. This describes how the body can support itself in all postures, and it actually gives you a more accurate picture of the meaning of 'core support'.
Now the thing that is less understood is that all of this is actually a natural response to gravity. It is simply what happens when we are integrated and grounded. So once we have worked to create a little more space for things to change, and woken up the responses that lead to integration (gather together to open out), movement into a posture becomes a release of tension as we transfer the responsibility for support to where we meet the earth... then the pull of gravity from beneath takes hold of us through our bones and allows us to fly! This is incredibly strong work, but it is a strength that removes extraneous tension in the system and brings life and health into every cell of the body.
(aka Marc Woolford)