Healthcare and Medicine Reference
Some examples from Asian Somatics
Although we have used several yoga poses to illustrate
stretching or engaging the various individual lines in
each of their respective chapters, more complex poses
engage parts of multiple lines. Using the simple line
drawings we include here (which are not refined enough
to be accurate in any particular yogic approach), we can
assign some asanas or postures to each individual line.
These poses are named variously in different traditions;
the names here are in common use.
Stretching of the Superficial Front Line (and conse-
quent contraction along the Superficial Back Line) can
be seen in the reach that begins the Sun Salutation pose
(Fig. 10.35A), or the basic warrior poses such as the Cres-
cent Moon (Fig. 10.35B). The Bridge pose is a basic regu-
lated stretch for the SFL (Fig. 10.35C), as is the more
advanced Bow pose (Fig. 10.35D). The Camel also pro-
vides a strong stretch for the entire SFL (Fig. 10.35E). The
Wheel, or backbend, pictured on page 99 (Fig. 4.7A), is a
strong stretch for the SFL. Many of these poses are
nearly the same somatic configuration, simply with dif-
ferent orientations to gravity.
Stretching the Superficial Back Line is the primary
action of the Downward Dog (Fig. 10.36A) and the
Forward Bend poses (Fig. 10.36B). The Child's pose
stretches the upper part of the SBL while allowing the
knees to flex, which eases the stretch on the lower part
(Fig 10.36C). The Shoulder Stand and Plow poses are also
strong stretches for the SBL (see Fig. 4.7B, p. 99).
Although the Boat pose (Fig. 10.36O) is clearly a stretch
to the SBL (as if the Downward Dog were turned upside
down) and a muscle strength challenge for the SFL
across the front of the legs and torso, this pose is actually
a core strengthening pose which reaches into the psoas
and other hip flexors of the Deep Front Line.
The Lateral Line is stretched by the Gate pose shown in
Figure 10.37A - showing a stretch of the left side - as well
as the Triangle pose (see Fig. 4.17B, p. 105 or Fig. 10.41). We
can see how the Gate would also contact the lower SBL on
the outstretched leg. The LL is also strengthened (a good
thing for what is primarily a stabilizing line) by holding
the body straight supported on one hand as in the Side
Dog pose of Figure 10.37B, where the Lateral Line closest
to the floor prevents the body from collapsing from ankle
to ear. The Half Moon pose (not pictured) requires work
from the Lateral Line closest to the ceiling.
The upper Spiral Line is stretched by the simple Sage
pose and any of a number of complex twisting poses
(Fig 10.38A and see also Fig. 6.22, p.142). Such poses
strengthen one side of the Spiral Line while challenging
its complement. Of course, such poses also offer chal-
lenges to the pelvic and spinal core, as well as the more
superficial Spiral and Functional Lines. The Pigeon pose
challenges the deep lateral rotators (a branch of the
Deep Front Line) and the lower outer Spiral Line (biceps
femoris and the peroneals - Fig. 10.38B). The anterior
lower Spiral Line (tensor fasciae latae and tibialis ante-
rior) can be stretched in the lunges and deep warrior
Fig. 10.34 The act of standing -
human plantigrade posture - is the
end-product of many stages of
evolution, both phylogenetically and
affect movement in profound ways, including percep-
tion, and the ability to respond to certain situations.
The story goes (and I got this verbally from Moshe
Feldenkrais, so cannot otherwise attest to its accuracy)
that Moshe Feldenkrais was sat down at a dinner table
next to anthropologist extraordinaire Margaret Mead.
'Oh, yes, Feldenkrais - you're the movement man. I
have a question I've been meaning to ask you: Why
can't the Balinese men learn to hop? They are good
dancers, and otherwise coordinated, but I cannot teach
them to hop from one leg to the other.'
'It sounds as if they are missing a stage of creeping',
'Of course', said Mead, smacking her forehead, 'The
Balinese don't let their babies touch the ground for the
first "rice year" (seven months), so they never get to
creep on their bellies.'
Watch a baby in the initial stages of motivating its
belly across the floor at about six months or so, and you
will see where the underlying movement for transfer-
ring the weight from foot to foot, and thus hopping, lies.
The baby thrusts one foot as the other retracts, building
the coordination that will later allow the transfer of the
weight of the upper torso to each leg in turn - running,
in Anatomy Trains terms, all the trunk lines into one set
of leg lines, and then the other, alternating in turn.
Without this stage grooved into their brains, the Bali-
nese men could still walk, run, and dance, but not
directly and specifically hop from one foot to the
The practiced eye can see into movement to deter-
mine which lines are underperforming, and which
stages of development might have been missed or
skewed. Easy familiarity with the patterns of changing
posture in movement as outlined above are a prerequi-
site for this kind of seeing.