Post #4 in The Elliott Lexicon of Satisfactory Yoga Terminology
Back in the day, bloomers were all the rage in yoga class. It was an East Indian aesthetic that had a certain old-world charm. You often saw bloomers in Iyengar classes on both men and women. They were very modest, made of cotton with elastic bands around the thighs, monochromatic and drab, until someone got the idea to spice them up by using colorful prints. They were only available via special order, and you sent your measurements, pattern choice and money off to Dallas Texas, of all places.
Upon receiving my first custom ordered bloomer, I noticed they were more like diapers, ballooning out in all directions. I called the maker to inquire why she made a pair that were clearly not my size. Did she misread the measurements? Her answer surprised me:
“Oh, I always make the women’s bloomer a size larger to accommodate the buttock’s spreading in forward bends”
Although fairly new to yoga, I was not on-board with the idea that the rumps of women who did yoga were so floppy and unskilled that upon forward bending, they needed a garment a full size larger to accommodate a lack of understanding.
There is a functional concern about this sort of “expansion” besides simply looking good in jeans. Unsupported range is the bane of yoga practitioners, and not enough strength in the upper and lower glutes*, also known as “mushy tushy”, is a contributing factor to sacroiliac dysfunction, a condition that plagues many asana practitioners. Particularly in forward bending, many students are passive in their stretching, which goes against one of my cardinal rules: the area you are mobilizing is the area you must stabilize. Sadly, students and teachers alike often do not recognize the dangers inherent in the range of motion required in many postures and practice asana as if they were an aerobics class, missing necessary techniques required to prevent injury.
Enter “Tone in the Tush”, contracting the lower glutes and hamstrings at the sitting bones in poses that stretch this area, including but not limited to forward bends and most standing poses. This is an application of muscle physiology called the eccentric contraction, and I utilize this concept by teaching my students to strengthen the muscle they are stretching. It’s counter intuitive to think of contracting muscles while stretching, but it is my belief the animal, our physical body, feels safer when there is appropriate muscular tone. The poses come more readily, and the mind is more likely to settle into wide-brain, a state of being I value greatly, and the gift of an intelligent yoga practice.
Besides, Tone in the Tush goes a long way to giving you a badonkadonk in your Levi’s, or if you so desire, in your bloomers.
*I will often refer to the gluteus minimus and medius as the upper or high glutes, the gluteus maximus as the lower glutes.
Copyright Theresa Elliott, 2014. All rights reserved.
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