“. . . according to the Yoga Sutra (3.1), the term [Bandha] refers to the ‘binding’ of consciousness to a particular object or locus (desha), which is the very essence of concentration.”
Georg Feuerstein



Monday, March 21, 2011

Balancing the Forearms, Wrists, and Hands in Dog Pose

A starting point for combining Western science with yoga lies in the term Ha/Tha. This Sanskrit word means Sun/Moon or Yin/Yang and implies a balancing of energies or forces. Balance creates stillness. Apply this concept in your yoga practice by examining the various forces operating around a given joint in a pose, for example, the feet and ankles in Downward Facing Dog. You can also use it to correct hyperextending knees and elbows.

So, look at the elements that contribute energy or force throughout the body—including gravity and muscular effort—and the transmission of those forces from the muscle-tendon unit to the bones. Focus on those you can consciously affect—contracting and lengthening skeletal muscles, for example. In general, once you have the form of a pose, you want to minimize the muscular effort required to be in the asana and maximize the use of the inherent strength of the bones by aligning them. For an example of this, look at  how to use the big toes to align the bones of the legs in Uttanasana.

What about poses where a particular movement predominates, for example, in Urdhva Dhanurasana where the hip joints are more extended than flexed? Consider a recipe for food. You wouldn’t necessarily use equal portions of salt and pepper to create the final taste. In Urdhva Dhanurasana, contraction of the hip extensors predominates while the hip flexors lengthen. Balance in a pose such as this is the right amount of engagement combined with the right amount of release. All of this produces a motor and sensory imprint on the brain and establishes the mind—body “connection” of yoga.

Now, let’s look at how to use this principle for the forearms, wrists, and hands.

Try This in Downward Facing Dog . . .
pronator quadratus and flexor carpi radialis

Close-up of pronator quadratus and flexor carpi radialis.

pronating the forearms in downward facing dog pose

Forearm pronators in Dog Pose.
Gently press the mounds at the base of the index fingers into the mat and slightly flex the wrists. This engages the muscles that “pronate” the forearms, or turn the palms to face down—the pronators teres and quadratus and the flexor carpi radialis. Then spread the force evenly across the palms to the little finger sides of the hands. This contracts the muscles that “supinate” the forearms, or turn the palms to face up—the biceps and supinator. Gently attempting to drag the hands towards one another activates the biceps. You can refine supination by extending the thumbs up and away from the mat for a moment and then laying them back down. This engages the extensor pollicis longus. Feel how these actions balance the energies of the forearms, wrists, and hands. Try this concept in other poses such as Adho Mukha Vrksasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana.
supinators and biceps brachii

Close-up of biceps brachii and supinator. 
forearm supinators in downward facing dog pose

Forearm supinators in Dog Pose.
To read about the anatomy and see this in Full Arm Balance and Urdhva Dhanurasana, go here. 

Thanks for stopping by. See you for the next post when we’ll discuss how to use the wrist flexors in Dog Pose and also release volume two of our free interactive eBook.  Be sure to tell your friends about our blog and visit us on Facebook for your free poster and Anatomy for Yoga Tips and Techniques, Book 1 eBook.

Namasté,

Ray and Chris

5 comments:

  1. Another fantastic post. Thanks.
    What would be good would be a print option that formats the page so we can print the information better.
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Chris,

    I need to check with my technical director on that. Will do so in the am, so please check back and we'll post the answer to that. Also, I much appreciate your comment on the post!

    All the Best,

    Ray

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Chris,

    Our eBooks are in printable format and they have all the same info in them! They are essentially collections of each of our posts from this blog.

    You can get a free copy of our first one here:
    http://www.bandhayoga.com/TipsAndTechniques_inside.html

    And we'll be releasing our second one very soon! So check back often.

    Namaste'

    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good Share! Some really valuable information here. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Look forward to reading more of your articles. Voted up!

    ReplyDelete