Saturday, April 21, 2007

Recent letter on the Roller and a Reply

I've just never understood why, when I take your rollers and show my yoga classes, no one is ever interested, despite my recommendations. Do you have a clue as to how to understand this? (From D.K., Woodbridge, CT.)

Allan's reply:

The look of a roller is deceiving and unimpressive. The feel of the thing can be another story. For some people it can be just what the doctor or the guru ordered. When the spine becomes the prime focus of a practice, then some things become more evident like the need to open up the spinal joints or a need to relieve some sense of strain and distortion in the spine and back. I use the floor for spinal work and various rollers. And, in the course of spinal work, it sometimes becomes evident that certain key muscles attached to the spine are short and tight. Two muscles particularly come to mind, the iliopsoas and the diaphragm. They are both key, structural muscles in creating strain and distortion in the body and spine, and they often need to be stretched and lengthened. Rollers, and other tools, can help give some focus to that effort, but they are certainly not absolutely necessary or the only way to go. And it may be helpful to keep in mind that the tension we feel in these, and other muscles, often represents the grip and control we exercise over ourselves. We are attempting to break some bad muscular and structural habits (or tendencies) when we practice yoga and to experience a greater sense of ease and freedom. We are tearing down and ripping up an old structure with our practice (with or without the use of tools) and allowing a freer, more fluid, and eventually a more powerful self to emerge.

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