Biologists have long wondered how the flamingos can stand on one leg for so long. Researchers reported that these pink birds have a unique anatomy that makes their posture almost effortless. Whereas humans need some muscles activity to balance on one leg, the flamingos unusual skeletal and muscular systems essentially let gravity do all the work.
And that is a great lesson for us because, although we are not flamingos, we are reminded that the skeleton plays a major part in our standing up and our body strength even though we tend to assume that muscles are our sign of strength. The truth is that you need to let your skeleton and gravity do the bulk of the work for you! Yes, you can!
Muscle engaging is good when it is chosen by your whole-body intelligence to keep your skeleton in a pose. When your mind directs your muscles to control your skeleton, it actually creates excess tension rather than adding more strength or stability to a pose. It is like you are fighting with yourself and you actually trigger your stress mode even if only underground.
I have experienced this personally and professionally. This is why I am encouraging you all to revisit your “muscle obsession” which may not serve you as much as you think it does. Next time you are on the mat or involved in an activity, play with this idea that your mind’s intention of movement initiates your skeleton to make a move while your necessary muscle tension goes on for the ride in perfect harmony with the bones, keeping you feeling strong, fluid and light.
A tree pose is only a tree pose, no need to control every aspect of the movement to get there. Trust your whole-body intelligence to know how to find a place for your foot anywhere along your leg and to keep you grounded and expanded. No need to press and force anything to go anywhere it is not going willingly. When you do not engage your muscles as you go and stay into Tree Pose, just by standing relaxed on one foot with your arms extended up and out like branches, you are still building up the strength of your necessary muscle tension and bones. The only thing you are losing out on is Unnecessary Muscle Tension. Why would you want excess tension anyway?
When you do not muscle your way to go and stay into Tree Pose, you are still building up the strength of your necessary muscle tension and bones just by standing relaxed on one foot with your arms extended up and out like branches. The only thing you are losing out on is Unnecessary Muscle Tension also known as Stiffness. Why would you want to build up stiffness anyway?
Try this and let me know how it felt! And if you are a yoga teacher, teacher trainee, or a committed yoga student and you want to explore this work with my help, sign up for my Free Webinar this Saturday afternoon by clicking on this link: https://offthematyoga.lpages.co/free-live-interactive-webinar-04/
Cecile Raynor has been teaching the Alexander Technique for over 25 years out of which came her B.I.A. Process to assist yogis in enhancing their practice bypassing the intellect. She is also a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist and a Reiki Practitioner. Faculty at Akasha Yoga Teacher Training, she runs a 12 months Mastermind for Yoga Teachers with a Vision, and a 90 Day Virtual Program for trainees, new teachers and committed yoga practitioners interested in using their body more efficiently on and off the mat in a way not taught in regular training courses. She is currently writing a book on her personal and professional experience to be published this year with Bliss-life Press, San Diego California.