Wa Yo Yogi

Leanne Kitteridge's adventures in Yoga

Maui Therapy Training Oct/2010 Day 3 October 7, 2010


Shiva dancing in hibiscus


“When we rest we rebuild and we are reprinting on to the matrix that we established during the day”. – John Friend

What kind of matrix are you building for yourself? What are you creating for your mind and body during the day? This is how day 3 started. John discussed how even the layman could look at a cell in a microscope and tell the difference between a healthy cell and a cancer cell- there is no harmony to a cancer cell – it is misshapen and ugly.

The body will produce all new cells within 7 years. In 7 years you will not be the same as you were right now- the body holds such an amazing intelligence. You have the ability even at the cellular level to change- how incredible a gift.

We worked on the hamstrings for the morning. Any good yogi worth their salt will tell you when they hurt their hamstring…mine was 3 years ago almost. It still twinges at the thought of Visvamitrasana……

Back to the previous days the most important thing is attitude. Check. Now the next thing is alignment and the hamstring muscle and fascia tend to spiral AWAY from the midline. So to stretch it affectively you have to align the hamstring taking into consideration the spiral of the muscle. You then have action- You must engage the muscle to stretch it. One of the things that has proliferated the stretching world is that to stretch the hamstrings you must engage the quads ( I know I have heard that) but really to stretch the hamstring you have to ALIGN ,ENGAGE and STRETCH the hamstring. Wow – I know – novel concept.

I know when I tore my hamstring ( I think I blogged it way back…) I told everyone that Christina said I had to go back and do the pose ( or a close one to it) I hurt it in. So I healed my hamstring doing uppavista konasana and hanumanasana- yes splits. The secret was to go very slow, keep super strong boundaries of the lower legs,  then hold the muscle and fascia to the bone and engage it has I turned the hamstrings and widened them from the insertion up to the origin of the muscles. It was intense and slow but it did the job. The poison – in the right dose- is often the cure according to John.

When you hold the muscle to the bone- especially an injured one- there is a calming that comes. I want to ask John but I think the premise is when we get hurt the muscle over stabilizes to protect further injury and actually cuts some of the blood supply which affects the rate of healing and also the tightness of the muscle. The best time to work on an injury seems to be immediately. The longer you wait the more overly stable and more scar tissue builds up in a reactive way.

One of the other points that John emphasized in the morning session is that EVERYTHING IS A DUAL ACTION- it is Shiva/Shakti. In actuality, it is the hallmark of the method of Anusara Yoga. You cannot do muscle energy without organic energy, you cannot do inner spiral without outer spiral, shins in thighs out, seesaw principle etc.

We did a whole bunch of hamstring therapy on ourselves and once again if I get a chance to make it in a form you can see then I will. Think parsvakonasana to trikonasana with super muscle energy and super shin in as you manually work the front hamstring with your hand. My heel was digging into the mat and pulling back isometrically so hard that I thought I was going to wrinkle the mat up. We then also did the same in prasaritta , uttanasana with arms wrapped around the shins and purvottanasana. Think the most major shins in thighs out you have ever done…and then multiply it by 10X. That is how hard we worked the legs this morning! I think my legs are still a little in shock……


John brought a Pez dispenser to help us.......


Ok- How do you get someone to work that hard? Muscle energy and steadiness and ability to hold is a discipline. How much you can discipline yourself is directly related to meaning. How badly do you want to get better? How much do you want to get out of pain. For those of us training and not in pain it was “how badly do you want to serve?” That was a big bunch of people wanting to serve today!

We helped each other in Uppavista konasana- the most common seated pose to hurt your hamstring in- and I got to work with Carol Wray. Carol is my good friend and fellow Inspired teacher from Surrey B.C. What I like about working with Carol is that we both do a lot of therapy and we can use each other as resources and practice buddies. One of the key things we both noticed in Uppavista when going to align the hamstring in an inner spiral as that the heel has to really be anchored and working. If the heel lifted during the adjust then much of the stability was lost as well. The two pints that we really needed to anchor were heel and INNER KNEE . We went from bottom of the leg to top ironing and rotating the fascia and muscle. As the student bent forward,  John asked us to look to see if the legs splayed out and if they did then sure enough the inner knee had lifted and muscle energy was lost and therefore stability.

We also worked on janu A ourselves and looked at how to stabilize knee pain by leaning TOWARDS the sitting bone on the side you are folding in. I always tell my students to let their foot roll out and use their muscles rather than their hands to pull in their knee to keep the groin soft but putting more weight on that side makes it even better! If you are dealing with someone with  a rebuilt knee or knee replacement then you can close the joint first ( knee towards chest) and then take the folded leg out to the side as a unit. Once in the full pose, lifting the bent leg heel to engage the side of the calf muscle ( peroneal muscles) will also help relieve knee pain.

In the afternoon we had some friends of our group come in to see how we could learn to help them. Two of our friends had plantar fasciitis so that is what we started with. One of things we noticed right away was that both of them had almost arch in their foot. By slightly elevating their foot on a rolled sticky mat and getting them to firm the shins and then place the foot in order ( big toe mound,inner heel- stretch across the transverse arch to the pinky toe mound and then outer heel) an visible arch was created. If you have a student with it in class they can do standing poses with the front foot working on a rolled mat like this- uttanasana, trikonasana etc. After class yesterday I actually did some research and I found that the most common treatment for plantar fasciitis was anti-inflammatory drugs, orthodics and soft shoes and a recommendation of no stressful exercise.  There was almost nothing on physical therapy…..

Next we looked at the Achilles tendon and on a friend who had it surgically reattached.  One of the worst things you can do for it is the classic runners stretch- you know when you hand your heel off a step and create a really deep angle in the ankle to stretch the back of the calf? Yup- I used to do that one too!

The technique that is more effective is to raise the heel with the toe mounds on the floor and get the calf to engage strongly. From there- keeping the engagement start to stretch the heel towards the floor. The other thing John did was actually work on the surgical area. Sitting on the floor he placed the friends shin on his thigh so the top of the sin was raised and heel on the floor ( think seesaw principle) . He then went to the SIDES of the scar and kept pressure there as he moved the foot. You could see the difference in blood flow in just a few minutes. The next one was similar for the treatment positioning but he used one hand you really work downward pressure on the ankle and keeping that again put the foot through a variety of positions flexing and rotating different directions.

We then went to each other and worked an S-curve massage on the feet. You basically stabilize one part of the foot as you move the other back and forth or figure eight. I laughed when we did this one because my husband and I do this for each other when we sit on the couch! I had no idea it could be used as therapy it just felt good and after my husband broke his foot here a Maui a few years ago it seemed to make a big difference. Hmm- who knew?

Carol was up next which an old surgery in her ankle and after she was finished with John I got to work on her which is so great. You can’t really do a lot of this stuff on yourself because you can’t relax and just work what you need. We got right up under Carol’s scar and pushed it to the bone while we worked the ankle in different directions. It was painful for her but she had much less pain and greater mobility after. I wonder if it lasted? I will ask her today.

One of the most interesting things we looked at in the afternoon was scoliosis. One of the ways you will see it in one of your students is in uttanasana. If they are wearing a tight shirt it will show up very distinctly. Scoliosis is measured in degrees and at 50 degrees doctors usually put a rod in your spine. Darren Rhodes , who is the poster boy for Anusara Yoga,  had 45 degree scoliosis- after doing what John suggested he is now down to 10 degrees. The key is to de-rotate the spine using the strength of the muscles to pull it back in line. Putting the student on all fours, you start by seeing the dominant and subordinate areas clearly. To align you get the subordinate areas to brighten and the dominant areas to release. I found this interesting because rather than looking at the bones we were really looking at the skin and muscles. The muscles will eventually influence the bones. Twisting is effective too using the same technique of brighten the more collapsed areas and softening the more dominant areas. One of the keys was to work the non dominant side twice as much. Putting student in balance poses that create instability where also effective for building strength and balance in the non dominant side. We just did a simple hand and knee pose with one leg up and opposite hand up and moving the arm and leg side to side very slowly keeping them parallel to the floor.

The last thing we worked on was the lumbar spine that had injury. We felt to see if the vertebrae were posterior or anterior, if they had a slight twist, and then used twists and inner spiral to get the spine to line up again. The sacrum has to work very hard in these to move in and up. The vertebrae then need to create the visible trench on the spine and widen away to free them back to their proper alignment. We got to work on each others back and once again , thanks to my husband, I am really good at aligning vertebrae while someone is laying on their belly. I took one of the biggest guys in the room and had no problem getting him aligned. He looked a little amazed….

John said something causally at the end but it really resonated with me- “you have to make harmony with whatever you got.” For many of us there will always be something that is not ideal or perfect- and I am not just talking about the physical here. We have a choice to become despondent and angry or we can chose to make harmony. That is why attitude always comes first……

wonder what tomorrow will reveal?


Island girls- Kathryn Wiese- Big Island and Samantha Fox- Kauai



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