Andrew McGonigle has been studying anatomy for over twenty years, originally training to become a doctor and then moving away from Western medicine to become a yoga teacher, massage therapist and anatomy teacher. He combines all of his skills and experience to teach anatomy and physiology on Yoga Teacher Training courses internationally and runs his own online Anatomy and Physiology Applied to Yoga courses. His new book, Supporting Yoga Students with Common Injuries and Conditions, is out now. In this article, using our hip joints as an example, Andrew explains why yoga practice and what feels comfortable varies for each of us.
Have you ever wondered why certain yoga postures can feel so easeful in your body while others can feel like such a challenge?
Or why one person can sit cross-legged for hours having never practiced yoga and you still need to sit on four cushions after practicing yoga for years?
The short answer to this is that every body is entirely unique and will express a certain yoga pose in a completely unique way. There are also emotional, psychological and nervous system components that affect how much movement our joints make and the quality of that movement.
Let’s explore some of these factors using our hip joints as an example. Continue reading
Combination exercise to strengthen buccinator and risorius muscles
Place a cork or something of a similar suitable size between your teeth to keep your lower jaw down. Hold the position and simultaneously pull the corners of mouth straight sideways.
Repeat 10 times. Close your mouth and rest for a few seconds. Place the cork again and repeat another 10 times.
IMPACT ON APPEARANCE: Tones the lower cheek.
IMPACT ON HEALTH: Relaxes and lengthens jaw-closing chewing muscles.
Vital Face by Leena Kiviluoma has a whole programme of facial exercises and massage for health and beauty (some with corks and some without!) find out more here.
Facial Exercises and Massage for Health and Beauty
This is a fully-illustrated guide to stretching and massage techniques to relax the facial, neck and shoulder muscles. The exercises address health issues such as teeth clenching and grinding, pain in the face, jaw, head or neck, and can improve the effects of Bell’s Palsy. They also help reduce facial lines and leave the skin healthy and glowing.
Click here to buy the book
– Perform all the stretches slowly and gently
– Concentrate on the stretch
– Stretch the chewing muscles carefully to a point of mild discomfort and hold the stretch for a while. The discomfort should begin to fade during the stretch, when the stretch gradually relieves tension and loosens your chewing muscles.
– Keep the muscles you are stretching relaxed. Breathing deliberately during the stretching helps you relax and control the stretches. Enjoy the relaxing feeling of stretches.
– If a stretch feels too uncomfortable and tenses your muscles, decrease the force or the range of movement or both.
– The feeling of the stretch should not be painful. It should not produce pain in the muscles or in the joints. Distinguish the feeling of a healthy muscle stretch from the sensation of pain.
– Hold each stretch for the recommended time and repeat each stretch the recommended number of times. You can increase the duration of a stretch as well as the number of repetitions if you like and as long as it feels comfortable.
– Application of moist heat or cold is sometimes a helpful relaxing procedure before the stretching of the chewing muscles.
Caution: Never perform sudden and forceful movements during stretching or try to force your jaw beyond its physiological limits. Those with a history of a jaw dislocation must be careful not to perform jaw movements that are too wide.