Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was giving birth to our first child. Crazed with back labor, I was very focused on getting that epidural. No natural childbirth for me, I was all about pain relief, and it came in the form of a needle to my spine. I am not ashamed to admit it. After writhing around the Brigham & Women’s maternity ward for several hours, my request was granted. Then, just as quickly as the pain started, it subsided. That blessed wave of relief washed over me just in time for the doctor to say, “It’s time to push!
And I remember thinking, “Push? Push WHAT?!” With numbness enveloping my body, I thought she might as well be asking me to bend a spoon with my mind! There was no sensation, no discernible thing to push or focus on. I felt powerless, frustrated and helpless.
I have experienced that same feeling many times in yoga practice. I hear my teacher (whether in person or my head) saying something like, “Reach your inner-outer edge of your pubic bone down and back.” And I think, “HUH? … Did someone just give me an epidural?!” Just like my OB-Gyn, I know she wants me to do something that involves my pelvis – and I want to do what’s asked of me, really I do – but exactly how I’m going to accomplish her request ranks right up there with pushing that baby into this world. It’ll be some kind of miracle if it ever happens!
Still I listen and I try … to draw the head of the arm bone back, to root the femur in the socket, to move the sacrum as a unit with muscular energy, to broaden the thighs and make room for my pelvis. In search of that elusive “optimal blueprint,” I try to bend that spoon with my mind. I do this with the belief that my teacher KNOWS! I do this thinking that SOME day, it WILL click. And I do this knowing that even in the attempt of these actions that I will yield benefits.
A few months ago, my friend, Lisa, mentioned that she was going to take a class at Austin Community College, Anatomy for Dancers. I have wanted to learn more about anatomy to enhance my asana practice and this seemed liked a good fit. I didn’t really want HARDCORE Anatomy, but something that would help me better understand the mechanics of the human body. The semester started last month, and it’s a perfect fit. With every class, I find myself making connections: Ahh, THIS is why we root our femur, THIS is why we draw our arm bone back, THIS is why “our way” works. I knew the Anusara method worked, and now I know why. The synapses are firing!
For the past couple of weeks, we have been studying the pelvis. I never knew the pelvis had so many different landmarks and components. Dig your thumbs into your side waist and feel your iliac crest. Palpitate the bones on the front and discover your Anterior Superior Iliac Spine (ASIS), your “headlights”. Observe the alignment of your pubic bone with your ASIS … Is it forward of your ASIS (retroversion) or does your ASIS lead the way (anteversion)? There is so much to learn about this one area!
I leave Anatomy each day and head directly for Christina’s class. Tonight we worked on hip openers. As she requested us to externally rotate our hip, or release the inner groins back, I reached a deeper place. With my new vocabulary and increased understanding of the pelvis, I was better able to access the action she described. I could see the femur rotating in the acetabulum; I could visualize the pubic crest moving back; I could “feel” the stability come to the sacrum as I drew in. I could see it all in my mind. My pelvis is no longer one ambiguous “thing” but an understandable unit with many parts. Like the fog lifting on my epidural, this anatomy class is granting me access to a whole new place.
The miracle is starting to happen!