I occasionally attend Jess Glenny’s yoga classes in Greenwich. In addition to teaching Jess also runs a mentor group for new yoga teachers, or those wishing to look at their range of teaching techniques. Sometimes they need ‘bodies’ to practice/experiment with and that’s why I went along on Sunday.
The workshop was called “Seeing the Skeleton” and was based around part of Paul Grilley’s anatomy DVD.
With an explanation from Paul of how a given skeletal structure might vary quite naturally between people the group then looked at the variation in those present. We then had some discussion on how those variations would affect someone’s experience in a given yoga pose.
Enlightenment came for me when the person I was working with lifted my arms but prevented me moving the humerus around the acromion process. It turns out that my shoulders are structured quite differently each side. Whilst the range on one is passable the other is quite restricted. Finally I understood why, as I go into back bend one of my arms has to perform this sneaky little maneuver to allow me to go up. Here is a YouTube clip of Paul illustrating exactly this point:
I saw on another blog recently a line attributed to respected teacher to the effect that everyone can do any pose if they practice long enough. Paul’s reasoned explanations on the DVD showed why that just isn’t true. If your skeleton is shaped such that you will get compression between bones then no amount of yoga practice will make your pose into that ‘perfect’ form. As we saw in the group, and I experienced in my own body, these variations are by no means uncommon.
The points Paul makes are equally valid for Thai massage of course and I’m thinking I shall have to order this DVD for closer study. So a big thank you to Jess and her mentor group for letting me in on their workshop.