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Skeletal System, fears and spiritual grounding


Palm leaf manuscriptsHealing the Total Body: Where Western Anatomy Meets Eastern Spiritual Science 

Healing Series, part 2 

Table of Contents:


Yoga's Skeletal System

Misalignment highlighted

Healing yourself

Listening to voice of fear

Don't cut off flow of Prana

(back to Healing Series)



Courage is daring. I have many fears that I cover with anger in my pursuit to being competent in the world. I work this out in my Ashtanga yoga each morning and throughout the day.

My first fear was walking into the Mysore yoga room on Day One. For many years, I didn’t think that I was good enough (i.e., my yoga poses weren’t going to be good enough, I wouldn’t have the right alignment, my mind was too scattered, I would be judged, etc.).

Bones and ego

Before arriving, it was all about the yoga positions. This begins with the Skeletal System and also the psychological and spiritual Ego. With this focus, or should I say worry, however, there is no place for breathing and going deeper into who I am—the true reason for practicing yoga.


Yoga's skeletal structure

I had been doing yoga for 18 years so my Skeletal System supported me. I know many of the bones and proper alignment, where I’m off and how to compensate.

skeletal alignment in yoga

I learned by experience about gravity and skeletal alignment in the yoga poses and that we "use muscular force to bring the bones into a position where they carry the load. Once these positions are attained, muscular force is no longer necessary (or greatly decreased)” (Source: The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga, Ray Long).

The bones on the right side of my body—arm, leg, sternum bone, foot—are all longer; this creates misalignment in yoga but also in living. What has bothered me the most for years has been my neck, as it slowly crunches to the left, also affecting my left shoulder. I’ve gone to a chiropractor for years to get realigned.


Misalignments highlighted

When I first began Mysore, a deeper pose (Supta Kurmasana) in the Ashtanga Primary Series highlighted a minor scoliosis, a lateral deviation and rotational deformity of the spine, in my lumbar spine, which had never bothered me before. Now I had a new area to protect as I felt pain and repetition inflamed it.

Repetition awakens ego

As I kept going daily—in Mysore-style, you practice the same sequence each day, adding on as you go but do not get taught the next pose in the sequence until you master the previous ones—I went into protection mode and analysis mode. I spoke with the teachers, trying to explain for my own discernment. But, I was also protecting my psychological ego because this pain was stopping me from moving on so I needed to provide an explanation for my failures. It was also stopping me from being spiritually present.

My mind was wired on explanation. Ashtanga Mysore-style of yoga can bring up many of the mind and spirit’s impassable issues with its repetition and ritual. I was running into one of them.

Dedication allows skeletal correction

It would be 8 months later, as I went deeper into the latter half of the Ashtanga Intermediate Series that I realized positive skeletal changes occurring in my lumbar spine. Miraculously, one day this correction was so great that I felt taller, pain free, spine more erect throughout the day and even had to adjust the driver’s seat in my car as its regular setting was now putting pressure on my neck. Anatomically-speaking, the cervical spine (neck) is directly related to the thoracic (rib cage range) and lumbar (lower) vertebrae; it is all one spine! This seems obvious, but for me—deep into my analytical yoga practice—it was a revelation.


Cure yourself - spine

Magically, I no longer needed to perform my daily self-chiropractic cervical neck adjustments. I was cured with my yoga practice.

Transformation is sustained change

In my euphoria, I knew that I’d need to keep moving in that direction daily as the Skeletal System has a memory similar to teeth requiring a nightly retainer after orthodontic braces.

“Change leads to disappointment if it is not sustained. Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar.

[Iyengar taught alignment style of yoga, whereas Pattahbi Jois taught Ashtanga. Both were trained by the same teacher, T. Krishnamacharya].


Listen to voice of fear

It was because I let go of the fear (held in that imbalanced area of the lumbar) and trusted the process that allowed the release that the deepest healing occurred. At this point, what I initially experienced as pain in my lumbar spine for many months now felt warm and begged for more extension, movement and access.

Subtle body speaks

It was speaking to me. Its voice was freed when the blockage was removed as my spine elongated and the correction occurred. I listened to its voice and moved on trusting the process.

This wasn't possible until after I let go of my psychological ego that felt I needed to perform in order to move on to the next pose. When I surrendered, I opened physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. 

"Fear is not what you think it is. Fear is not who you are underneath your facade. Fear is not the real you that you must somehow fix or improve or overcome. Fear is a very useful signal along the path to freedom. The stronger the fear, the closer you are to what you are seeking. If you want to stay "safe" (i.e., stuck where you are), fear tells you to stop what you are doing. If you want to be free, fear lets you know you are on the right track, a signal to push ahead in the same direction, to pick up the pace."
~ Cheri Huber, Buddhist teacher

Surrender the ego

Moving on to the next yoga pose in the Ashtanga Intermediate Series—Pincha Mayurasana—identified another alignment (skeletal) bad habit of mine that I need to transform: I stick my rib cage out when balancing. I learned this soon after my spine adjustment. This unconscious adjustment is related to a fear of falling and therefore not being perfect.

Putting it together, I realize that the spine adjustment straightened me up more to a point where my rib cage counter balance was no longer needed.


Don't cut off the prana

In the subtle body, I would cut off the Prana (or Qi) traveling up my spine when I kept cracking my neck bones throughout yoga class and at home, a habit I performed for years.

I did something similar with my hip bones as I’d move the femoral head bone out from the acetabulum bone because it felt good; but what I did instead was cut off the chance for muscle-toning and ligament stretching in the hip area as a benefit to external rotation. This would later offer the solution to more opening in a pain free manner. This hip habit of mine affected my later poses which involved putting my foot behind my head in the Ashtanga Intermediate Series (and beyond). This effort is all part of calming the nervous system.

Stay with the sensations

When the subtle body is calmed, my spirit is grounded. What gets me to yoga each morning, despite the uphill physical, emotional, spiritual climb? (I won't set my alarm at 5:00 a.m. for anything else). The intense evolution of my spirit...

Found within the discomfort and pain in my body, I’ve grown to feel euphoria as the energies become identified and not just begin to heal emotional patterns (but actually do as samskaras are burned off), subtle forces leading the way. I feel pleasure in this suffering—and I am not a pain person—since it is connected now in my brain waves as the path to healing, which is a big turn on to me.

in a time when
it burns out inside
so that
no longer
it lives and breeds
but instead
a twinge, jubilation
in anatomy and subtle channels
vital just for a time
before evaporating
essence no more

© my secret innuendo®