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I love cobra rolls. LOVE THEM. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these undulations of the spine help us cultivate balanced opening and strength. Don't be fooled by the gentle look of this transition, it's actually much more difficult than it appears. Cobra rolls strengthen the triceps, shoulders & chests, open the thoracic and cervical spine, and engages both the anterior and posterior core muscle groups. And most importantly they help us zero in on the parts of our bodies that are hyper mobile or stiff.
Don't get me wrong, I love big, fluffy quadriceps. They enable leg extension and hip flexion, help stabilize the knee joint & fill out a pair of jeans quite nicely. But the fact of the matter is that the quadriceps take a back seat to the posterior chain (hip and lumbar extensors) when it comes to athletic performance. Compared to the quads, the glutes and hamstrings are more powerful muscles with a higher proportion of fast-twitch fibers. But for some odd reason, the muscles of our anterior chain are easier to hook up with. What that means for our legs is that we tend to let the quadriceps pick up the slack for the hamstrings & gluteus muscles, all the while reinforcing muscular imbalances at both the knee and hip joints. Weight-bearing backbends such as Camel, Crescent Lunge or inverted backbends (variation seen here), help us to bring balance by strengthening the muscles of the position chain while elongating the muscles of the anterior chain.
Bones are living tissue and respond to the healthy stress of weight bearing and adequate compression. Therefore it is important to move them and place them in certain ways that allow them to remain strong, supple and healthy so they can continue to effectively perform their necessary functions. We must learn how to work with, not against, our body. By prioritizing the skeleton we can engage the correct muscles instead of relying on our strong suits- remember, our body is always looking for the path of least resistance, sometimes counter-intuitively. Looking at this video, we see three different postures- but the story remains the same for all of them. The goal is to stabilize the shoulders and strengthen the upper posterior chain. Once you discover your strengthening shape, poses will organically and safely unfold.
Find your "strengthening shape." Learning correct alignment for core stabilization is key. Every time we change hip positions, shoulder position and spine position we hit the core muscles from a different angle. This can work for us or against us, especially when it comes to our inversions.
Eight forces sustain creation: Movement and stillness, Solidification and fluidity, Extension and contraction, Unification and division.
A poignant and personally relevant excerpt from Art of Peace. Learning the true essence of dualism as it applies to a yogapractice and the asanas themselves. Finding movement in stillness, softness in strength, & thinking of postures no longer as solitary entities but as the sum of their parts.