Monday, March 15, 2010

anatomy musings

I got to sleep until I wok e up this morning. Well, of course, we always sleep until we wake up. In this instance I mean that I got to sleep until I woke up with no alarm which is really one of my favorite things in the world. After so many years of getting up supremely early for work, exercise, etc. I find it immensely enjoyable to sleep until my needs for rest are met and then get on with my day.

Today that meant a nice long pranayama, mantra and meditation session followed by a cup of tea while I write this blog. It is kind of my morning ritual at home so I thought I could keep it alive here. It works for me most mornings to spend a few minutes collecting my thoughts and musing about what is on my mind. Since I do not have internet access in my room so I am writing it in a word processing program and will past it into my blog when I go up to the guest lounge where we have internet access.

So yesterday was a good day. I particularly enjoyed Martin’s anatomy lesson in the late afternoon. Martin, prior to being a full time yoga teacher, was an engineer and so there is no one better to teach a group of Anusara Yoga practitioners anatomy than Martin Kirk. He is passionate, articulate, charismatic, smart and since he was a certified teacher BEFORE leaning anatomy, he sees anatomy through the lens of the UPA’s instead of the other way around, which is fantastic. And he is very good at teaching- what I have always said- that the UPA’s really work to mitigate the dangers of any asana pose and also to keep us aligned according to the design of the body. I am passionate about this subject- UPA’s are not an imposition on the body. They are a means by which we consciously align with the optimal design of the body. The only reason they seem like an imposition is because we are misaligned to begin with.

So- There are so many great nuggets of wisdom to share form his 2-hour presentation. He began by telling a story about how, when he began working on his anatomy book, John said he wanted him to explore the idea of the individual matrix and embryonic development. So he shared with us some of his findings- suffice it to say that that alone is somewhat mindblowing. Here are some of my notes from his talk on this:

  • Non physical aspect or reality- THE INVISIBLE MATRIX
  • There is a You that was YOU before you were You( and that You is perfectly programmed to become you.)

Now this part was kind of interesting- he said that he always thought that the in terms of fertilization, “the best sperm won” but really…

  • the human egg is surrounded by a hard shell; the first sperms that get there pound against the shell and break it down; later on “some slacker gets in easily” Who knew?

Also this part was pretty cool in terms of the deep intelligent order that guides the process of coming into being…

  • Within the first 30 hours, the cell begins to divide- 2-4-8-16, etc. within 5-6 days the growing clump of cells imbeds itself in the uterine wall. Then the individual cells do a kind of origami and begin to fold back into itself and forms a cavity. When that cavity closes off it becomes a tri-laminar disc- in the center of that disc a line begins to form-(CAN YOU SAY MIDLINE PEOPLE?!!!) T hat line attracts certain cells that become the nodo-cord (Primordial kind of spine) and then the nodo- cord sends out signals and calls cells to it- then the cells come that will become the spine- within 22 days, this tri-laminar disc begins to fold back on itself again and the cavity it forms becomes our inner cavity. Within 6 weeks, the cells that were attracted to the nodo-cord begin to ossify. Within 8 weeks they pinch off what was the nodo-cord and that makes up the fluid inside the discs of the spine. Within 10 weeks the muscles between the vertebrae begin to take shape. From there, everything takes shape.

And so since we are all Anusara Yogi’s in the room and Martine such a well-trained teacher he brought all of this into the context of The Highest…

  • It all comes from seeming nothingness. And yet in tantra we must remember a very important distinction relative to creation and so forth. In tantric philosophy, God doesn’t create the universe- God becomes the universe. And that happens out of seeming nothingness!
  • So all this attracting, dividing, multiplying and folding in on itself is happening according to a deep plan, which we are calling the Invisible Matrix and which in terms of physical structre we call The Optimal Blueprint.
  • In asana we are trying to line up with the Optimal Blueprint- with the Invisible Matrix. We have to keep this in mind when we explore anatomy.

So we explored the structure of the spine starting with the shape of the spine, the optimal curves of the spine and then the muscles that support the spine. Another key piece of context that Martin pointed out has to do with evolution. Our spine is at its most perfectly aligned state when we are on all fours. SO much of the trouble for us with alignment and so forth comes when we stand up. Martin said jokingly and in all seriousness, “we still need a few more million years of evolution to be better at being upright. We are only midstream in our development as upright beings.” Okay so this is radical to consider and it can really confront a kind of complacency or superiority mindset, if you ponder it.

The other thing along those lines that we got into talking about that made the hugest impression on me had to do with establishing the optimal curve for the lumbar spine and a question that came up about why to so many people’s feet turn out. One thing that Martin said is that if you really look at the number of muscles that rotate our legs out vs the number that rotate the legs in, then the external rotators will win every time. In our current design model (keeping in mind the previous point that our evolution is still in process) we are pre-disposed to outer spiral in the legs. (Like how John says in the Teacher Manual that “the strength of the buttocks will override the strength of the upper inner thighs.)

But weirdly the design of the body works best when the inner thighs are active and the inner and outer spiral are balanced. So what does that tell us? In order to function according to our design, we have to use CONSCIOUS ACTION to bring ourselves into alignment. Like Iyengar Yoga teacher Laurie Blakeney always says,” yoga is not natural, it is supernatural.” Natural is external rotation wins. Supernatural is applying alignment (inner spiral in this case) consciously and skillfully according to the Optimal Blueprint.

So this really impressed me because if we see this clearly we see that this is truly a yoga of empowerment. This is a yoga of using our consciousness to go beyond “what happens naturally,” to go beyond our current state of evolution and to take a million or so years of the process! (I firmly believe that in a million years the internal and external rotators could actually balance on another... but who has that kind of time?) So really we see that this yoga is empowering, evolutionary and deeply intelligent. It does not get much better than that in my opinion.

Well, I am going to run now and see if I can make it to the first part of Jordan’s class. She is telling stories every morning which is very fun and then I will post this and do a practice and so on.


Melanie Buffett said...

THANK YOU for sharing your journey. It is ever helpful. Namaste Christina.

Meg said...

THAT is inspiring, on many levels. Thanks for sharing C.

Barefootlotuss said...

Evolution is happening more and more quickly as conscioussness itself evolves. . .

mariacristinayogi said...

You are so generous with your comments, such a radiance in your sharing. Thank you so much for every post, every musing. So great to see you in Los Angeles. Pura vida! xoxo Maria Cristina

mandy eubanks said...


Marcia Tullous said...

Hi Christina~

Brilliant and fascinating... all this talk of creation and anatomy and yoga and looking at things in a new and fresh way. Thanks. I must take an anatomy class with Martin!

Love to you,