I met Norm, again, at the Yin Anatomy Workshop this weekend. Norm is a skeleton, very much like every skeleton you’ve ever seen in your anatomy books and in online images. Norm, however, is normal and the rest of us are not. Guess that makes us abnormal.
Under the tutelage of Joe Barnett, I realized that my inability to clasp my hands behind my back and lift my knuckles to the heavens is not due to tight pectorals (chest muscles) at all. Check out the image in this blog. That’s a photo taken by Paul Grilley showing how much variation there can be in scapula’s (your shoulder blade bone). Lucky me, I won the contest (along with Rufus) for least likely to EVER be able to clasp our hands behind our backs without ‘cheating’ and bending our elbows, mainly because our shoulder blades look more like the photo on the right then the one on the left. Due to the shape, size and the way our humerus (upper arm bone) interacts with them, they bang into each other almost as soon as we raise our arms out to the side. However, Tina, Jen and Heather won the ‘freaky’ award, Joe could pretty much tie their arms in a bow behind their backs. Yes, they would probably picked to be on the cover of Yoga Journal folding forward, hands clasped behind their backs and touching the floor overhead. Freaks. Just because they have smaller shoulder blades.
Joe effortlessly guided us through thoughtful, somewhat self-directed Yin classes. He shared some rather thought provoking perspectives as well as practical range of motion tests on joint variations. His calm, cool, laissez-faire demeanor allowed for lots of exploration and questions. We explored the difference between compression and tension and were encouraged to see rules of alignment as merely guidelines, because many, many of us are not like Norm. Then, he masterfully pulled together all observations about our extremities into the basic understanding that the deep recesses of our pelvis and spine is equally varied and much more complex.
So what does all this mean? We are all structurally unique. Don’t fret if you are unable to ‘look’ a certain way in postures, especially if it’s simply because your shoulder blades hit each other or your thigh bone slides into your hip a certain way that either allows or disallows a particular range of motion. It’s really what your momma gave ya’. So work with it and love it. You are in charge of exploring more about the body you live in and determining whether it’s bone variations that are limiting certain postures and by all means talk to the instructor if something just doesn’t feel right.
See you in the studio. Bring your bones…