We all move unconsciously in our daily lives, as if on auto-pilot, and most of us carry this tendency into our yoga practice, diminishing yoga’s power for transformation. Moving on auto-pilot may seem advantageous because it allows us to concentrate on other things, but there is a lot to be gained from bringing more mindfulness to our movement, not only in terms of our body, but also in terms of our mind.
When we move unconsciously we follow the path of least resistance, because it is most efficient. Moving efficiently means using our strong muscles to articulate our flexible joints, while ignoring our weak muscles and our tight joints, because engaging weak muscles requires too much mental and physical effort. The longterm effect of following the path of least resistance is that our bodies become ever more unbalanced: the hamstrings and hips ever tighter, the lower back increasingly painful because of overuse in compensating for tight hips, the upper back increasingly rounded, the neck increasingly sore.
In this workshop we will investigate several major problematic movement habits, and we will learn an alignment theory and targeted exercises that will take us off the path of least resistance and onto the path towards greater balance in our bodies, strengthening the weak muscles to limit movement in overused joints, and effectively stretching tight muscles and connective tissue to open the stuck joints.
But there is another, even more important benefit to this work of creating more balanced movement: One of the major patterns of imbalance is that we overuse the muscles of the back of the neck, which contributes to poor posture. But more importantly, a tense neck also contributes to chronic low-level stress, because tensing the neck muscles is one of the most direct methods for invoking the stress response. Most people (even very advanced yogis) practice yoga with too much neck tension, meaning that their yoga practice is not as beneficial as it might be. Learning to undo the habit of neck tension will not only free your body, but will also free your mind, by increasing the meditative power of your yoga practice.