Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kommentary on Yoga 5


I do all the usual yoga moves that have been taught for eons. All of them focus on stretching and strengthening what I like to think of as the “macro muscles” in the body: biceps, triceps, quadriceps, deltoids, pectorals, glutes, etc. All in all, that’s as it should be. Collectively, these drive the core of our stature, posture, locomotion, and equilibrium—in other words, the macro structures through which we propel ourselves through life.

But I’ve begun to notice that yoga ignores the “micro muscles” of the face, hands, and feet—in other words, the muscles that not only help us steer ourselves with precision through the world, but also let us grasp and manipulate it all, and which govern how we direct our sense organs and, ultimately, our spirit. The expression in your face, tracking and reflecting your crazy thoughts, is often the most twisted set of muscles in your body. You clench your faces, hands, and feet at the same time, unconsciously. You also tighten the micro-muscles of your pelvic area, but I won’t dwell there.

I’ve noticed that when I strain to achieve or sustain a particularly difficult yoga position through the macro muscles, I naturally clench all my micro muscles. It’s my facial muscles that particularly bother me, because they—and by “they,” I’m referring to the mind--tend to pull everything else out of whack. The facial muscles tighten the skin that wraps around my entire head, and pulls up the neck and shoulders, and from there on down the back. Quite often, I find myself having to do a conscious, progressive relaxation of my facial muscles and all linked tissues in order to stay focused on all the macro moves.

Yoga doesn’t teach that. At least, no yoga I’m familiar with. Yet. I try not to limit my learnings to what the teacher’s teaching. Never did.