willem said: I’m starting to see some light, but I am far from illuminated.
A sentence that applies to us all.
…about poses that bring hip opening and poses that require…How would you distinguish between them?
I distinguish in two ways. The first is the nature of asana in my own body. The second is the 40 years of asana and teaching it in my teacher’s body. Paschimotanasana requires hip opening because the body’s weight is being leveraged (via gravity and effort) toward the thighs AND because there is no “out” for the hamstrings as they are bound by the parameters of the floor upon which they rest. The pelvis must (already) be mobile and that mobility (requisite for safe forward bends) in part depends on opening already present in the hamstrings. That, evidenced by the number of hamstring attachment tears when said opening is not already present, facilitated by the student’s attempt to open them in the pose rather than bringing open ones to it.
In Supta Pandangusthasana it is the gravity, the weight of the limb, and the student’s effort which move the leg (assuming it is past 90? otherwise gravity is actually moving it back to the resting position). And there is an “out” which is bending the knee. Plus the pelvis is stabilized, therefore the pelvis doesn’t require movement from neutral (anatomical position). The work is then fully in the students hamstrings, not elsewhere.
I’m also still puzzled about the hip traction…
I think anatomy needs to be balanced for the purpose of teaching yoga. There are, however, typically two things that go on with yoga teachers. The first is a near-ignorance of the physical body and its workings. That is usually rationalized by some woo-woo principal of inner teacher and trust your body (which is not inaccurate just foolish to expect of a beginner who has almost no spatial reference in them). The second is a pre-occupation with anatomy to the point where everything is logic-based, rational, assessed, dissected, and referenced in a book by David Coulter. For me, as a Purna Yoga™ teacher it is applied anatomy that is relevant.
That having been said, when referencing hip traction (for example), when the student is supine and moves the thigh bone toward the knee joint, the lesser trochanter toward the opposite inner thigh/floor, and draws T12-L5 toward the nostril, that hip is in traction. This requires eccentric contraction - as does most of asana.