Saturday, March 17, 2012

Alignment of knees = more Harmony

In massage school I learned that the joints of the body represent our flexibility in certain areas of our life:
  • Feet: Your ability to move forward in life.
  • Knees: Your willpower.
  • Hips: Your ability to stand and hold yourself up in life.
  • Shoulders: Your ability to handle difficult situations.
  • Hands: Your ability to handle the details in life.
I thought this was interesting. Lately a lot of new students have been coming to my classes with knee injuries as a result of lateral movement or hyper extension of the knee. In my Friday 4:15-5:30 class at The Yoga Center I focused on knees this week. When the knees (or any part of our body) are in pain or discomfort it is distracting and makes it much harder to experience harmony. However by using our will power to align our knees (or any part of body) optimally over time we will experience more and more agreement in our body/mind/spirit.
The knee is a hinge joint and thus only meant for extension (straightening the leg) and flexion (bending the knee). A hinge joint does not assist in lateral moment of the knee. We do not want our inner or outer knees to get flexible, and that is what happens when we move the knee joint medially (to the mid line) and laterally (away from the mid line.)Me and my sister both played a lot of soccer and so many friends have blown out there knees (ACL, MCL..)  In the picture on the left you can see that if the girl in the red kicks or moves the blue players knee to the right that lateral movement will most likely tear her ACL ligament.

One of the many cool things about asana practice is we can use our will power to align our bodies to move in optimal therapeutic ways and practicing these alignment principles over time will retrain the body to function. Harmony is different than instant gratification. Although I often feel a little better and less stressed after a yoga class. I think when we practice steadily over a long period of time with alignment and intention that we expeirence more harmony to our body/mind/heart. For example, taking one yoga class might not make your knees feel instantly better or if it does that feeling wont be permanent, however if you tend to laterally rotate your knees and you work strong Shins In Thighs Out in your practice to stabilize your knees, over time with this your knees will feel better more often and for a longer amount of time. Same goes if you hyper extend your knees letting them bow backwards past optimal extension. If you practice strong Muscular Energy especially in the back of the legs (I like to press into the ball of my foot like I'm pressing on the gas pedal this engages my calf muscles then I isometrically lift and curl my heel up towards my sit bones, the heel doesn't move but the back of my knee and hamstring engage). When the back of the leg is toned you learn to straighten the leg keeping the stability and over time this alignment will probably make your knees feel better more ofter and for longer amounts of time. Since the knees contribute to the positioning of feet, hips, and shoulders all these joints will either find more optimal alignment or less optimal alignment depending on the position of the knees. (this stuff fascinates me) 

When tones, thoughts, or feelings, individually different, combine to form a consistent and pleasing whole, there is harmony. Harmony is deeper and more essential than agreement; we may have a

harmony, accord, concurrence, consistency, uniformity, accordance, conformity, consonance, union, agreement, congruity, symmetry, unison, amity, consent, unanimity, unity, concord
antagonism, contest, discord, hostility, schism, battle, controversy, disproportion, incongruity, separation, conflict, difference, dissension, inconsistency, variance, contention, disagreement, disunion, opposition, warfare

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