The mind muscle connection
“When they actually DID their set, I noticed they never had the mind to muscle connection. They were simply going through the motions. Those guys seemed to NEVER gain an ounce of muscle OR strength. I quickly learned that the ticket to success was TWO key factors:
1) Experiencing Joy / Having Fun when you train. This can ONLY happen when you are passionate about the type of exercise you do.
2) Creating a DEEP connection between mind and body.
The Body Is Very Important, But The Mind Is MORE Important Than The Body...”
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Mind Muscle Connection is your ability to contract or relax any muscle at will.” - Eric Weinbrenner
Those of you who have been in class the past few weeks have reaped the opportunity to learn with one of my new teaching tools- The Muscle in Motion app. This app gives us a better understanding of what we are doing in class (and hopefully in daily life) as we perform movement. We are visual creatures. An enormous number of sensory receptors are dedicated to our visual system. Seeing the muscle in action and in relationship to the other muscles on the animated human skeleton directs us like a road map through and unknown part of town.
I wrote in the 2019 June ACY Newsletter, “There’s a lot of ways to strengthen the lower traps. I’ve been doing most of the movements. BUT I’ve been doing those movements without activating the lower trapezius, never knowing.” A PhD and muscle geek named Bret Contreras showed with Electromyography (EMG) that it is entirely possible to direct activation in the front leg muscles without strengthening the butt during a squat.
Having been shown at the start of class the muscle and muscular action I am focusing on for the week, is it easier to focus on what’s going on inside the body? EMG experiments have shown that activating the muscles mentally plays a big role in activating the muscles physically. Watching many of you practice, from my perspective, it appears you are more focused and interoceptive.
“Form needs to be solid, but simply observing movement from the outside doesn't completely tell you what's going on under the hood. The underlying muscles also need to be firing in proper amounts and in proper combinations during movement for optimal performance.” Bret Contreras
Just to be clear, I am a wanna-be physiology geek. While I am evangelistic about the joy of moving with interoception, I am not pushing you to learn nomenclature.
Our brains are pattern seeking. We seek and reinforce patterns. This is great for re-learning to move. We don’t need to learn the names of the muscles, only visualize the patterns of them, the orientation of fibers running from one body part to another body part. What happens when you pull down on one end of a two-ended something? The other side goes up. Okay pull the muscle at the bottom tip of your right shoulder blade down to make the other end- your arm- go up. (Yes, I’m over-simplifying it, absolutely.) Map the route of the pattern in your mind, become familiar with the sensation of the action. After all, the wonderful and marvelous quality of full awareness is "knowingly arise perceptions, knowingly they continue and knowingly they cease". That's what makes it yoga.
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