Using drishtis (focal points) in yoga offers great benefits including enhanced balance, increased inner awareness and concentration, reduced distractions, and greater connection to breath. While some styles of practice have specific drishti points, we will look at some basic elements of setting focal points to insure that optimum benefits and quality in postures are being delivered.
Becoming 'more flexible' is one of the more common interests for people entering a yoga program. Many studies from exercise science and yoga increasingly demonstrate the immense benefits of stretching including increased range of joint motion and tissue extensibility (aka 'increased flexibility'). One aspect that is rarely addressed in the development of flexibility is stretch tolerance. Let's discuss how yoga stretching offers benefits in improving stretch tolerance along with some mindful cautions.
Poor posture is often a combination of cascading, dysfunctional elements acting on our musculoskeletal system. This dysfunction is not helped by the fact we have a strong tendency towards a dominance of our internal rotators of the humerus (upper arm bone). As muscle tension imbalances set in across the shoulders and upper arms, the dominance of internal rotation places dragging tension onto the shoulder blades. This ultimately draws the shoulder blades forward that leads to inhibition and weakening of the musculature needed to counter dominant internal shoulder rotation. Let's look at all the various internal rotators to gain a better sense of these tension imbalances.
We are very familiar with the general concept of yoga being about 'balance' and 'harmony' for the physical, mental, and energetic body. These relationships of balance cross their respective boundaries influencing each other. In terms of the physical body, it is essential that we respect the musculoskeletal relationship of balanced muscle tension.