Welcome to info page for
DIY YOGA Session 2
Putting Down Roots—Understanding The Lower Body Connection
Muscular Energy or Engagement | Inner Spiral | Outer Spiral
In this session we focused on the lower body and stressed the importance of the opening the feet and introduced the concepts of Muscular Energy/Engagement (ME) , Inner spiral and Outer spiral for the legs. These are the second, third and fourth of the Universal Principles of Alignment (UPAs) in Anusara Yoga, following the first principle, “open to Grace” (OTG) which we focused on in session one.
In yoga asana, we perform the UPA in order, so first OTG (feel breath and allow body to soften and expand with breath, feel into foundation of pose, usually the feet), second ME (engage muscles to bone, pull from periphery to center and hug to the midline), third IS (in back apart), fourth OS (out, forward, down), and fifth Organic Energy/Extension (to be discussed in later sessions).
Muscular Energy can be summarized by drawing energy in from three directions
hugging muscles to the bones (lifting and spreading toes and microbending knees)
squeezing into mid-line of the body (imaginary block between legs)
pulling up from feet to core (imagine you are sucking up sap from roots into trunk or pulling on a body stocking)
Here are videos to practice with ME
Inner Spiral (IS) movement can be summarized by “In, Back and Apart”
the feet and legs, especially thighs, roll in towards mid-line
the sitting bones move back
the sitting bones move apart (stretching gluteal muscles)
the three together essentially bring you into a pelvic tilt, or the towards the cow pose action in pelvis
Outer Spiral (OS) movement can be summarized by “Out, Forward and Together”
feet and legs, especially thighs, roll away or out from mid-line
the sitting bones move down
the sitting bones move together (squeezing gluteal muscles)
the three together essentially bring you into pelvic tuck, or the cat pose action in pelvis
Practicing with IS and OS
Some poses, those which are symmetrical forward bends, eg Uttanasana (the standing forward fold), or Prasarita Paddotanasana (wide-legged forward fold) naturally invite us into IS. Therefore, it may be necessary to slightly push back against this and activate more OS.
Some poses which are symmetrical back bends eg Salabasana (superhero pose) or Sarvangasana (bridge pose) naturally invite us into OS. Therefore, it may be necessary to slightly push back against this and activate more IS.
The balance will vary from person to person depending on your postural habits in the pelvis, In modern culture, we tend to have more OS in our habitual alignment and so it is often necessary to overemphasize IS in the early stages of our practice.
In most asymmetrical poses, the “back leg” should work the principle of IS, and the “front leg” should activate the OS principles. Sometimes it is clear which leg is the back/front leg, but sometimes not. In Tree Pose for example, the standing leg is considered the back leg and the lifted leg is the forward leg. This applies to most standing balancing poses, the standing leg will be considered the back leg. eg, Eagle pose, Standing Pigeon,
When IS and OS are performed together, it makes up “pelvic loop”, bring the pelvis into it’s optimal alignment and creating the conditions for the spine rise up in its naturally curves, distributing the weight of the upper body efficiently.