Saturday, December 3, 2005

instantaneous axis of rotation

An instantaneous axis of rotation is a place where we maintain a stable and central axis.

Expanding upon the concept of a core point two inches below the navel, there is a core line that extends from the inner arches of the feet all the way up the body, through the deep front muscles up the neck and ultimately into the center of head and then fountaining out the top.

Optimal posture, in standing, sitting, and movement, involves a flow through these core muscles so that there is no impingement of muscles creating pain in motion around a joint. This involves proper alignment of the body so that gravity doesn't compress the joints more than they are meant to be.

The definition of an instantaneous axis of rotation, according to [a website that no longer exists], is "the ability for any joint complex in the human body to function without internal derangement during normal human activities...Normal neuro-mechanical function allows pain-free motion about a joint."

Basically, we want freedom and full range of motion around each joint, and this involves keeping a sense of the core line and allowing the extremities to move freely, but integrated, around it.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

above down, inside out

The dantian, or navel point, is located in the lower abdomen two inches below the belly button. It is supposedly the center of gravity, from which all movement and power originates.

In Pilates and yoga both the navel point is crucial; it's where that nebulous "core" or "powerhouse" is located. When in Pilates classes you're told to bring your navel towards your spine, you're creating a "container" of sorts--you're activating the lumbar multifidus, the deep spinal muscles under the erectors, and the transversus abdominus, the deep abdominal muscles under the "six-pack" rectus abdominus. Those two vertical muscles sandwich the core, and the horizontal "lids" of the container--the respiratory diaphragm and pelvic floor--give the core the potential for dynamic movement. That container allows free movement of the extrinsic muscles around the body at the same time as building up, springlike, power for movement.

In yoga, the navel point is referenced when bandhas, or yogic locks, are spoken of. Pulling up the rectum and genital muscles is the first, or root lock; pulling the navel point towards the spine activates the second, diaphragm lock. Activating the second lock will automatically activate the first. The third lock is at the neck; it involves straightening the neck by bringing the sternum slightly up towards the chin (another important Pilates move--during the all-important "Pilates hundred" as well as other abdominal exercises, it's encouraged to lock the chin as if holding an egg underneath it).

Basically, when you activate those three locks in yoga or Pilates, you're creating a bunch of horizontal "lids" as well as solidifying the sides to the container by using those deep core muscles. When the body is stabilized in this way, it's like you create a super-solid grounding within yourself--you give your center a context, a definition, and from there you can have infinite power and outward expansion. Plus, having a physical sense of core here also forces energy to come up the spinal pathway, freeing up all sorts of blockages and, in yogic theory, opening a person up for spiritual evolution.

In kundalini yoga, it's said that when you move and speak from the navel point, you can be 100% behind an action or statement. The navel point is the place around which your fetus shaped itself--the center of your physical orbit, and where, if you re-connect there, you remember yourself. A strong navel point will create an open heart center, so moving from there comes first.