Welcome and Aloha~
I am in Maui for John’s therapy training. It has been so great to reconnect with old friends and meet some new ones in person ( I have a lot of “cyber” friends that I met in person today- Hi Katie and Jeremiah).
Day one of training was already so full. I felt like I just wanted to take all the training today and go work with it for a month and then come back for day two! I have been trying to really pay attention and focus and make lots of drawings so that I have good reference material to go back and look at when I need it. I hope I can decipher it all later…..
John started the day by talking about the deep order in nature, in fact he defined Anusara as ” to be in the flow of Nature”. He showed us the curl of the ear and how it is the same shape as a fetus and how that same curl is in the hand when turned on it’s side and the hand is curled shut. He said the body is complex but to not confuse that with complicated- that the very complex is “simple” multiplied. Look at the big picture and you will see the larger order of nature.
The next interesting thing he brought up was that even bone when you look at it has a spiral. If you follow the spiral it will flow in the direction of the midline. I found that really crazy and I now want to go look at some bones to see if I can actually see that…( John kept saying to us to challenge him and stay open so I am going to test this one out…no dogma for me…)
As the body moves from the core it grows in complexity- it evolves so that the hands and feet are an evolved part of the initial core of the body. There is a natural growth of even a seed- the roots go down and from the stem it branches out into greater and greater complexity. I think of the flowers on the trees as the most evolved form of the plant but all of the plant – the roots, stem, branches all came from the same core. Even trees spiral- look from the top of the tree downward like you are in a helicopter- and you will see the arrangement of the branches spiral- it is not a coincidence.
John carried this thread through to the fact that the person who is now standing in front of you did not come to you by chance. The person in front of you is there for a reason- you might not be able to see why- you will probably never know why- but they are there for a reason- a deeper pattern. When someone comes to us and says “my knee hurts” our tendency will be to look at their knee right away and just start working on the knee. Instead- he explained- you have to step back and be like the Sky- first principle- be open. Feel the person’s energy- is it going up or down? Look at them and see the person- not the knee. Look for the beauty.
Now I know that may sound so simple but so many therapists and doctors do not see the person- they see the knee, the bad back, the rotator cuff etc. When you touch someone to do therapy on them it is not just mechanics- it is a deeper expression of empowering someone to find the supreme intelligence inside themselves. Somehow they cannot hear that intelligence anymore and if you just mechanically move them there is no shift of the inner self to help them learn to listen again.
When you are bringing someone into alignment in the outer form of the body you are actually affecting pulsation deep within the body. If the rhythm or pulsation is too fixed- no ups and downs – (think sitting on the couch all day and then going to bed vs cardio during the day and then deep sleep at night) then actually that is UNHEALTHY. There should be a variety to the pulsations of the body- ups and downs in the rhythm of blood, lymph, organs- over the course of the day to bring optimal health. Our form will actually affect these pulsations so by aligning the outer form in a more harmonious way the form becomes a better conduit for the pulsations- nature comes back into alignment.
When you look you may also see parts of the body that are dominant and other parts that almost seem dark. By quieting the dominant parts and shining more light into the darker parts you also bring alignment to the outer form and the pulsation flows better.
We focused today mostly on the pelvis. It is really the core of the body- the seed so to speak. We worked on really understanding how the head of the femur moves in the acetabulum and anatomical neutral was for the hips. You guys know this one? On your hands and knees. When you are on your hands and knees the head of the femur more naturally roots into the acetabulum- it’s when we stood up as a species that problems seem to have happened. John said “imagine you painted the head of the femur gold- when you are on hands and knees you can’t see the gold- the head is so firmly nestled into the hip but when you stand up you could see a ridge of gold at the femur- the head moves forward and out”. Most of us have feet that turn out as well- that is also dictated by the hips. Much lower back pain can be relieved just by getting the femur to move back deeper into the acetabulum.
We then worked on getting the curve of the low back. In yoga, forward folding can cause more problems for people with low back issues- it can actually make things worse. Create the curve of the lumbar first and then lengthen. If a student cannot create the curve, they should not be folding forward and trying to lengthen.We looked at where the apex of the back should be- at the sacrum- and then noticed for many people it was L-4. We took some students and worked on getting the curve in the low back by taking their hands further ahead and their feet wider in uttanasana and then getting the upper trochanter to get in line with the ankle. The legs are the governor of the back. I am used to looking to see hips over feet but the trochanter and the ankle are landmarks on the side of the body that will help me a lot in the future. If your student cannot do uttanasana you can create the same actions with hands on the wall or hands on a table.
John explained how he also discovered muscle energy and why we hug from the periphery to the core. All muscles have an insertion and an origin. The origin is more stable and the insertion is more flexible. From the core, the muscles have their origin and as you move away from the core they have their insertion. He said if you stabilize the more flexible part than you open the fixed part. “Stabilize the periphery and move from the core” I have heard this many times but I never thought about it in relation to origin and insertion in muscle. Very cool- can’t wait to share that with my physio friends…..
There was so much today that I just can’t get all of it down but there is one other interesting nugget I got. Have you ever been told that one leg is longer than the other?? Do you know how small the chances are that the bone is actually different in length? Very , very small…. the leg length is usually due to muscle and soft tissue pulling that leg up, or forward etc. You may have better luck working on the psoas etc then going to get it pulled by the chiro every week. ( but I do love my chiro for getting my SI back in when it just gets to cranky for me to stabilize and pull back in myself anymore)
One last thing I wanted to share was muscle monitoring. Sometimes where we think the issue is is just a muscle trying to tell you that something else is having a problem. How about that knot in your piriformis ( butt cheek) that won’t go away- things like sciatica. The piriformis has a direct relation as a monitor for the psoas. If you can get the psoas to release, get the thigh bones to move back more into relation with the acetabulum, suddenly piriformis calms down. The muscles of the buttocks are all monitors of tension in the thighs. Stretching the thighs with good alignment may be better than a massage of the butt cheek- though massage does feel pretty darn good! Another one to go talk about with the physios….
So today in a macadamia nut shell~
Sky– look at the energy and feel – be open- don’t get stuck in paradigms
Earth– stabilize the periphery and then go to the core
Water– create curve in the lumbar by taking the femur heads further back into the sockets and getting the sacrum to tip in
Fire– root the tailbone only enough that the action is down and forward but that it doesn’t over-ride the femur heads
Air– root down and rise up keeping all the previous alignment
Need to sleep to getting to open and absorb for tomorrow!