Do yoga inversions reverse the flow of blood?

Do yoga inversions reverse the flow of blood? Although yoga teachers sometimes say this, the answer is no. The blood in your body only flows in one direction. From your heart’s left ventricle, it’s pumped through a network of arteries to the capillary beds that surround the cells of your body. That’s where your cells take…

The glutes and hip pain in yoga

“Don’t contract your glutes.” I’ve heard this instruction many times from yoga teachers, especially during backbending poses, but it’s always puzzled me. The gluteus maximus – the large muscle of your buttocks — is the prime mover in actions that require hip extension against gravity, such as climbing stairs or standing up from a squat….

Yoga anatomy video: Knee alignment in Warrior II

Just put up a video clip from my first knee workshop last Tuesday at the Shala, about preventing patellofemoral pain in Warrior II. If you missed last Tuesday, I’ll be doing two more workshops about the knee. This Tuesday, February 4, we’ll go over repetitive stress injuries and what happens when you hyperextend your knee….

What happens when you stretch a muscle? (Part 2)

In the previous post in this series, I described how stretching temporarily affects muscle tissue. This segment begins a discussion of long-term changes in flexibility. Ultimately, lasting gains in flexibility have more to do with your nervous system than with your muscles. More on that in the next post, but first, let’s look at an alternative hypothesis, namely…

Hanumanasana

What happens when you stretch a muscle? (part 1)

  “What happens when a muscle stretches?” This frequently asked question — a perennial query during anatomy trainings — deserves a few blog posts, especially as the mechanism is often misunderstood. Stretching targets muscles in two ways. First, it directly affects muscle and connective tissue itself. As you’ll see in this post, those effects are temporary and short-lived.  Stretching…

Yoga anatomy answers: How do your collarbones and shoulder blades move when you lift your arms overhead?

Another yoga anatomy video. This one was prompted by a question from a student about how the collarbones move when your raise your arms overhead, as in urdhva hastasana. The same movements happen in poses like handstand and downward-facing dog. Hope it’s helpful. If you have questions you’d like me answer in future videos, let…