Monday, September 12, 2016

Stuff I learned - Week #1

As is the case for many graduate students, I am a Teaching Assistant (TA) for an undergraduate course. In my case, I'm TA-ing an undergraduate anatomy course. This TA assignment covers my bases financially (whew!) and also provides an excellent opportunity to deepen my personal understanding of anatomy. In the very first lecture in this class, the lecturer presented the fundamental principles of the course's approach to anatomy. What was the top of the list - the number one principle of the course?

Function follows structure.

This seemingly simple, three word sentence should be required reading for each and every yoga teacher. While its sentiment may seem like a no-brainer, I am sorry to report that the separation of function from structure remains all-too-common in the yoga community.

Just last week I had a conversation with a student who has been nursing a yoga injury for the past year. When I asked for more details, he reported that he felt a pop during a class at another studio, and for the past year he has been experiencing sharp pains emanating from deep in his groin area. As soon as this fellow pointed to the source of his pain, I felt an uncomfortable pit in my stomach. Though one can only diagnose a torn hip labrum with sophisticated medical
Unless you're really stiff, I encourage you to put some
support under the knees when practicing this pose.
imaging, I've come to recognize the superficial symptoms that often correspond to a torn hip labrum.

In the past year, I've worked with several dozen yoga students who are recovering from a torn hip labrum. This injury should never happen! I've become familiar with the symptoms of a torn labrum because the it has become one of the more common yoga injuries. And a torn hip labrum is an easily preventable yoga injury.

While I didn't learn these points during my first week of graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, the Alignment Yoga approach is based on the fundamentals of anatomy I'm learning even more deeply at the UW.

Here are the secrets to a happy and healthy hip labrum...

  • Don't square your hips in Warrior poses
  • Don't square your hips in Side Angle Pose
  • Don't square your hips in Triangle Pose
  • Treat Reclining Bound Angle with great respect (see photo)
  • Learn more about anatomy so that you can learn to recognize cues/instructions that are based on sound biomechanics, and let go of the cues/instructions that are based on wishful thinking

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