Understanding my own body

In YTT, we studied body anatomy as well as the muscles needed to get into various pose. I relate the anatomy studies to understand my physical body, including my flexibility, strength and flaws in my body structure. This helps me understand why I do certain pose better and faces difficulty in other pose.

I always enjoy stretching as it relieve the tension in my body with the exhalation. I thought stretching is about bending my hips deeper, but recognize that there are other aspects to flexibility which I need to work on. My hip is flexible and I can do a forward bend easily, but I can bend deeper at the right compared to my left. My shoulder and ankle is not as flexible.

During lessons, we are required to know the muscles engagement and alignment, as well as breathe pattern to get an asana correctly done. It has been emphasised that getting the alignment and breathing correct is so much more important than going deeper and doing the final pose. This is so as we want to stretch and engage the correct muscle with control. Janu Sirsasana is not about touching the head to the leg but leaning forward and keeping a straight spine after you inhale so that you can stretch the back. The dristi is another thing to keep in mind to develop our concentration in going into the pose.

When doing asana in this controlled manner, the limitations in my own body become clearer to me. I struggle with arms balancing pose as I have limited upper body strength. My tricep muscle is particularly weak and I had problem doing triceps push up other asanas that required arm strength.

After becoming enlightened of my shortcomings, I pay more time working on it. When stretching, I try to stretch my unflavoured left side more and includes more ankle and shoulder stretching. I also spend more time on strength training, especially on the upper body and focuses on asana that I am weak in. Occasionally, I am exhilarated to get into the crow pose which I always fail but others seems to jump into. As headstand is such an important asana, I also started a habit of practising headstand for at least 5 minutes every morning. With this insight on my body, I hope to overcome my weaknesses and progress in my training.

ZJ Chung