In any sports, understanding key body structures will help to enhance our practice and reduce or avoid injuries. Learning to apply the functional understanding of our musculoskeletal system in my yoga practice has actually help me to achieve micro successes in arm balance poses. I usually experience a lot of difficulties kicking up in inversion poses because I kept using my hip flexor instead of engaging my shoulder girdle correctly. Another great mistake I made was depressing my shoulders downwards instead of protracting and rotating upwards. Hence, it was not quite possible to hop up in inversion without collapsing as I was actually locking my torso downwards. My legs also felt super heavy when I just relied solely on my hip flexor to kick up in inversion poses.
Identifying the muscles to work on for different asanas will also help to allow our body to gradually gain strength in the targetted muscles through consistently exercising these muscles to build muscle memories. The muscles that are mainly utilised in the shoulders for handstand are the anterior and posterior deltoids. Working on drills such as plank, dolphin push ups, jump tucks etc, can help to strengthen these muscles as well as the biceps and triceps for steadier hold in inversions. Although I may not be able to hold these inversion poses without relying on the wall, it is one baby step forward learning to work with the body structure with lesser resistance.
Contributed by: Annie Chua (Jan’15)