I received Paul Grilley's Anatomy for Yoga DVD for my birthday. It contains over four hours of workshop lectures and other fun interactive stuff. It's rich in content and is really getting my brain going about yoga and anatomy, so expect a series of anatomy inspired posts!
Paul Grilley is the dude behind Yin Yoga (although, unlike some supertar yogis... cough Bikram cough he claims not to have invented it and claims no ownership over it). Yin yoga emphasizes release of connective tissue and joints by holding postures for long periods of time. HIs anatomy lectures elaborate on his primary message, "Discriminate between the sensations of Tension and Compression when practicing Asanas." By Tension, he means muscular tension that restricts movement. For example, tension in my hamstrings makes a full split a distant dream for me. Compression is bone-on-bone contact. Compression stops normal people's legs from straightening beyond 180 degrees... not freaky hyperexteners like me, though. Heh.
Here's a great clip from one of the lectures that illustrates the variety in individual anatomy as well as Paul Grilley's thoughts on how these differences are reflected in yoga asanas.
What's so surprising to me, is that Grilley openly accepts all the variations of postures that take shape in different bodies. In fact, he encourages practitioners to explore the full range of motion and experiencing compression on the joint whether it is hypo- or hyper-flexible. I've been practicing yoga since 2001, and I don't think I have ever had an instructor be okay with my hyper-mobility. I'm not sure that I'm even okay with my hyperflexibility, between always being told things like "Hug in! More muscular energy! Microbend your knee!" by my yoga instructors and being prone to injury in my loose joints. Frankly, having permission to experience yoga in the way Grilley suggests boggles my mind. I don't think I've ever tried it, and now I'm really curious to drop in a Yin Yoga class and see what it does for me.
In addition, even though anatomy is a hard science, in yoga there is so much room for discussion about what a yoga posture is, and what is the "right" and "wrong" way to do it. If you have ever injured yourself in practice, or received an improper adjustment in a yoga class, you might certainly feel there is a "wrong" way to do yoga! I'm still churning all this around in my mind, and I do have probably at least two more hours of anatomy lectures to watch that may help me feel my way around the incredibly complex relationship between yoga and anatomy.
Thoughts? Have you explored the range of motion in your joints? What have you learned about how your body moves just by experiencing your yoga practice?