When we step onto the mat, alongside us comes our emotional and physical habits. Throughout life, these patterns can bring structural and muscular misalignment, which can greatly impact the joy our yoga practice brings to our lives.
The Western notion of ‘practice makes perfect’ often creeps onto the mat creating an expectation that yoga asanas alone always facilitate pain free living. For some yogis this is true, whereas many find that supplementing their practice with Remedial Massage and education on self-massage technique allows them to move through the restrictions they are facing on the mat with greater ease.
Muscles and their surrounding connective tissue have an incredible memory and often need gentle coercion to release their perpetual habits allowing a new freedom of movement. A deep understanding of the relationship between each muscle of the body has on the other is imperative in easing the restrictions you may feel on the mat. Many new yogis strive towards the perfect Adho Mukha Śvānāsana (Downward-Facing Dog), working endlessly on their Hamstring & Calf flexibility (back of leg) whereas muscular contraction through the Quadriceps group, Adductors, Hip Flexors and TFL (front of thigh) may in fact be contributing to the restriction.
The more time you spend on the mat, the more ‘body aware’ you become, noticing muscular restrictions & imbalances. This introspection teamed with a skilled remedial massage therapist who sees not only the pattern but what the pattern is doing in the body, offers an exceptional tool for general health.
No one needs massage to do yoga, the practice always meets us where we are, but learning to receive is a skill all yogis need to cultivate. Massage provides a safe place to be quiet and be directed through an experience of your own body, allowing natural breath rhythms to emerge and educates both the body and mind where to make effort and where to relax.
Photo Credit: Matthew Henry
Watch your Yoga Practice bloom when combined with regular massage