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SIDE 'BENDS'

This name of this category of asana is a little loose, as we refer to not only postures where we find lateral flexion of the spine but also patterns of postures that predominantly target and stretch the side body, the Lateral Line of Fascia, whilst staying open. Tension anywhere along this line can cause restrictions in other areas along the line. Another name for this family could be externally rotates femur postures which generally stretch the inner groin and thighs, whilst strengthening the external rotators and abductors.  

* As we work through each posture, remember the intricate and infinite layers of integration involved. There's no 'right way'. Here we are playing with how asanas relate to one another, how they work together to open the body, and how they build upon one another to further open and balance our bodies. 

lateral line  (LL) 

The LL brackets each side of the body from the side of the foot around the outside of the ankle and up the lateral aspect of the leg and thigh, passing along the trunk in a ‘basket weave’ or crossed-shoelace pattern under the shoulder to the skull in the region of the ear. The sharp changes in direction create a mesh or net which contains each side of the body as a whole – a bit like the old Chinese finger traps. The resultant structure is a wide net of a line that contains the lateral trunk from hip to ear. See Pic >

 

The LL participates in creating a lateral bend in the body – lateral flexion of the trunk, abduction at the hip, and eversion at the foot – but also functions as an adjustable ‘brake’ for lateral and rotational movements of the trunk.

 

The LL balances the front and back, and bilaterally to balance left and right. The LL mediates forces among the other superficial lines – the Superficial Front Line, the Superficial Back Line, all the Arm Lines, and the Spiral Line. The LL often acts to stabilise the trunk and legs in a coordinated manner to prevent buckling of the structure during activity.

 

Common postural compensation patterns associated with the LL include: ankle pronation or supination, ankle dorsiflexion limitation, genu varus or valgus, adduction restriction/chronic abductor contraction, lumbar side-bend or lumbar compression (in bilateral LL contraction), side shift of the rib cage on the pelvis, shortening of depth between sternum and sacrum, and shoulder restriction due to over-involvement with head stability, especially in head forward posture.

 

GENERAL ALIGNMENT PRINCIPLES

  • In the standing postures, activate panda bandha. 

  • A lot of students tend to anteriorly tilt the pelvis which compresses the lower back and could cause issues. Encourage pelvic neutrality and the spine will follow into its natural curvature, unless there is a significant muscular imbalance or an underlying condition. 

  • Lengthen the spine, drawing in the ribs and lightly engaging the core.  

  • Shoulder blades draw softly down against the back ribs, create ease in the neck. 

 

INTEGRATION & COUNTERPOSE

  • Best after a warm up ie, sun salutations, starting with simple moving to more complex. 

  • Separately sequence externally rotated standing postures.

  • Refrain from moving back and forth between externally rotated standing asana to internal in creatively sequence classes that vary week on week

  • Avoid moving from externally rotated standing balance asana into internal rotated because the extreme downward pressure of the femoral head can injure that bone or the hip joint. 

  • In beginner classes sequence standing balances earlier on in the main body of the class before the legs get too tired. 

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