The scientific part of me looks at the human body as a machine that's function is universal. The hamstrings contract when we bend the knee, the deltoids lift the arm at the shoulder joint and the abdominals lengthen when arching the back.
Yet, truly, does each tissue actually function the same? That saying, does each muscle fiber contract with the same amount of force or lengthen to the same degree? In theory, maybe but definitely, not in practice.
In this week's yoga practice, it become very apparent the differences in each muscle group and within each muscle group.
I haven't really noticed many obvious differences in the past. Yes, I have muscle imbalances but my body has found many great ways to compensate. And I really thought I knew where each "sticking point" or cranky muscle was. Well, I was wrong.
In a wonderful sequence of forward bends (Uttanasana) - holding big toes with "peace sign" fingers, then to hands placed under feet position then finally to hands clasped behind back and arms stretched out and lifting behind my back. Nothing beats a forward bend.
What became ever so clear was that my right hamstring was not releasing. Almost as if it was jammed up two-thirds up the back of my leg.
I'm aware of a slight difference between both hamstrings but it was SO obvious with the forward bend sequence. My hamstrings (yours too) are not the same!
Interestingly enough, I had another reminder that not all muscles function the same from one side of the body to the other. Sitting and moving into a twist to the right, my rib cage (obliques and serratus anterior) are my limiting factor. They only allow my body to twist a certain degree; meanwhile, as instructed by the teacher, I add a deeper twist by wrapping my right hand back to my left hip. Try the pose on the other side and BAM, it's no longer my side body stopping the twist, it is the left hand to the right hip (note: I can't even do it!)
Enlightening for me. And with full disclosure, my physical therapist gave me a heads up about some of these cranky spots!
Enlightening for me as a teacher. Anatomy is anatomy but truly in motion nothing works exactly the same.
Working through the differences my body hands me,
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.