embodiment etudes

short somatic studies applied to yoga

Category: Yoga Anatomy

shoulder diaphragm

by julee snyder

shoulder girdle

I’ve had several teachers over the years speak of the shoulder diaphragm without being clear about its structure.  I have often been confused to whether they were referring to the thoracic inlet, the shoulder girdle, or both.  I am still unclear, but over the years the question has allowed me the opportunity to unfold the complexity of this area of the body for myself.

As we discussed in our explorations of the skeletal system, the only place where the upper extremity meets the torso is the sternoclavicular joint, where the breast bone and collar bones come together.  You may have noticed that each of our diaphragms make either a diamond or circular/oval shape.  And the shoulder girdle, forming a diamond,  is no different.  It’s front point is the manubrium of the breast bone, shared with the thoracic inlet.  Then it travels the length of the collarbones to it’s lateral point, the acromium of the scapula.  From there, we travel toward the back body to the shoulder blades.  Interestingly, there is no bony point to form the back of this diamond.  But through muscular attachments, you could consider the spinous processes of all of the thoracic vertebrae.  This amorphous back point allow the shoulder blades and arms their vast range of mobility.  But this mobility sometimes allows us to lose the integral support of the back body in favor of collapse of the chest and forwardly rounded shoulders.

In the thoracic inlet post, we discussed lifting the manubrium from the root of the feet or the seat.  This is also useful for finding a healthy postural position of the shoulder girdle.  One of the biggest culprits for a forwardly rotated shoulder position is a tight pectoralis minor and it is very hard to get a release via stretching.  There are poses that help open the front of the chest and they should definitely be practiced.  But don’t forget that the other side of the equation is the strengthening of the back body, in particular the muscles that bring the shoulder blades toward each other.  Those are the rhomboids and the middle and lower trapezius muscles. Belly down backbends are excellent for strengthening these muscles.  Come to lying on your belly with the arms out to the sides and the thumbs turned up toward the ceiling from the upper arms.  Begin by keeping the head down and lift the thumbs and arms straight up toward the ceiling squeezing the shoulder blades together.  After a few rounds add the lift of the head.  How many variations of belly down back bends can you think of?  Practice them all!

The shoulder blades also have a tendency to wing if the anterior serratus muscle is not strong.  It runs from the medial border of the scapula to the lateral rib cage.  Its job is to protract the shoulder blades, or knit them to the rib cage.  When practicing table or plank, use serratus anterior to draw the shoulder blades flat against the rib cage.

As we stack the shoulder diamond on top of the thoracic inlet, again find the lift of the manubrium from the rooting of the base.  Begin to play with pointing the outer tips of your collar bones forward, back and then straight to the sides.  This wakes up your range of choice.  Try to find equal width across the front and back of your chest.  Play with maintaining equal width in various poses.  Be conscious about when you vary from it, why, and how it supports you.  Play with it in different arm positions.  How does it support you in weight bearing poses through the arms: down dog, handstands, crow, e.g.?  Let us know what you find.

Happy practicing!

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thoracic inlet

by jsbodywork

thoracic.inlet

The thoracic inlet is an opening at the top of the ribcage formed by the bony ring of the first ribs, the first thoracic vertebra, and the manubrium (top of the breastbone).  It is where the neck meets the torso.    Many vital anatomical structures – arteries, nerves, veins, lymph vessels, plus the trachea and esophagus – pass through this aperture.

If we are looking for a structure in the body that parallels the pelvic floor and the thoracic diaphragm, let’s consider the Sibson’s fascia.  The Sibson’s fascia is a thickening of the pleural fascia at the apex of the lungs and extends the endothoracic fascia, which lines the thoracic ribcage.  It is anchored to the internal border of the first ribs and the transverse processes of the C7 vertebra.   And because the lungs extend somewhat above the thoracic inlet, so does the Sibson’s fascia.  Check out this cool drawing.

Many of us tend to collapse our thoracic cage during activities of daily living.  Yoga practice is one of the places where we practice our postural alignment.  Come to sitting in a chair with your sitting bones near the front of the seat and  your feet flat on the ground.  Allow your spine to collapse into an old postural habit.  Then turn your attention to your sitting bones and feel them push down into the chair as you lift your manubrium and 1st rib upwards.  Only go as far as you can feel equal length in the front and back of your body.  Once you feel compression in your kidneys, you’ve gone too far.  This should bring your thoracic cage into its fullest volume and the thoracic inlet into its widest opening, creating a fuller breath and an increased sense of vitality.

Now try this in tadasana, mountain pose.  Can you feel the lift of the 1st rib from the rooting of the feet?  Begin to catch yourself slouching throughout your day and instead of hoisting yourself into ‘good posture,’ see if you can find a healthy lift of the 1st rib from the grounding of your feet or seat.  In a later post, we will add to this a stacking of the diaphragms.

Once you become accustomed to the sensation of lift and fullness in the rib cage, begin to find it in other poses.  Also notice that some poses in the forward bend family actively cultivate a condensing through the front of the rib cage, a drawing down of the first rib and manubrium, and a narrowing of the thoracic inlet.  While some poses in the backbending family do the opposite.  Continue to play and notice.  Report back to us what you find!

Happy practicing!

uddiyana bandha

by julee snyder

Uddiyana-bandha-yoga

Uddiyana bandha takes the energy from mula bandha and draws it up the spine into the thorax. To better understand this bandha, it is helpful to review the abdominals and the thoracic diaphragm.

Let’s begin by warming the relationship of the abdominals and the breath.  Come to rest on your back and place your hands on your belly.  As you inhale, feel how the belly softly rises into your hands.  And as you exhale, feel how it falls.  This is the belly breath.  After a few rounds of the belly breath, begin to actively engage the abdominals in towards your spine as you exhale by using the transverse abdominus, that muscle that wraps around your midsection like a corset.  This should allow you to squeeze out any last bit of breath.  As you inhale, release the abdominals and allow the belly breath.  Continue a few rounds like this and then rest.

If you are new to the practice, stop there and practice that much for a few days.  When you are ready, you’ll move to the next phase.  Continue as before.  Inhale, allow the belly to rise.  Exhale, engage the abdominals to squeeze the breath out.  Then hold the breath out while you lift both the pelvic diaphragm, engaging mula bandha, and the thoracic diaphragm.  This is uddiyana bandha.  Slowly release and allow yourself a couple of natural easy breaths before repeating.  After a few rounds, stop there and resume the practice another day.

As with any of these practices, they can be strong muscular actions or more energetic.  After you have practiced as above for a period of time, start to take the practice into sitting.  Find a comfortable sitting position.  As you inhale, feel the length of your spine.  As you exhale, allow your spine to round into a C-curve position using the abdominals to squeeze the last bit of breath out.  Inhale, and sit tall again.  On your next round, begin your C-curve from a lift of the mula bandha, but continue to engage the abdominals to squeeze the air out.  Inhale, sit tall and breath normally again.  On your next exhale, repeat the rounding of the spine while engaging mula bandha and the abdominals.  Hold the breath out and add  your uddiyana bandha, with a lift and hollowing of the belly up into the diaphragm.  Notice the closing of the glottis.  Release the glottis and the diaphragm as you sit tall and allow the breath to flow in.  Breathe normally for a few rounds, and repeat.

With this practice, less is more.  Practice over time to reap the benefits.  Begin to notice places in your everyday life and daily practice where you find a spontaneous engagement of the bandhas.  Play with it in cat pose, downdog, inversions, arm balances, and more.  Feel free to share your findings here.

Happy practicing!

thoracic diaphragm

by jsbodywork

diaphragm

The thoracic diaphragm is the main breathing muscle of the body.  It is a double doming structure that divides the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity.  It attaches to the lower circumference of the ribcage.  And its fibers run from out to in like the spokes of a wheel to attach to the central tendon in the middle of the body just forward of the spine. The diaphragm also has two long kite tails called crura that run along the front of the bodies of the vertebrae.  While most anatomists state that the crura go to T12, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen believes that the fibers actually go all the way down to the tip of the coccyx offering support to the front of the spine.  Her argument is that sitting in chairs allows the lower part of the muscle to atrophy among those of us in the west.  Regardless of whether the muscle goes to the tail or not, the fibers interdigitate with those of the anterior longitudinal ligament and there has been increasing research to suggest a contractile component to the function of connective tissue.  So it is not unreasonable to suggest that the contractile support of the crura of the diaphragm can be felt to support the spine all the way to the tail.

During breathing, the fibers of the diaphragm contract to pull the central tendon down an inch or two (though the felt sense is much bigger).  This action changes the pressure in the two cavities.  It creates a negative pressure in the lungs by increasing the lung volume, allowing air to rush into the lungs.  The abdominal cavity is a closed fluid system.  As the diaphragm draws down, it displaces the belly organs slightly down into the pelvis and out into the belly.  This is the action known as the ‘belly breath’ in yoga.  This can be felt in nearly any pose, but especially in a reclining pose where the abdominal muscles are not needed to support the spine.

There are many cool things about the thoracic diaphragm.  One of them is that the fascia that surrounds the top of the diaphragm interdigitates with the fascia that comprises the pericardium, the sack that surrounds the heart.  So that as we breathe, the heart is softly rocked and cradled by the breath.  The fascia on the lower part of the diaphragm is continuous with the fascia of the peritoneal cavity which contains most of the abdominal organs.  All of our organs are massaged by the movement of the breath – one of the benefits of pranayama practice.

Another very cool thing that I recently learned about the diaphragm from anatomist Dr. Willard at an osteopathic conference has to do with its role in the immune system.  Occasionally, the abdominal cavity becomes congested with excess fluid.  Both the lower and upper surfaces of the diaphragm have pore-like structures called stromata, but the lower half has more.  And within the structure of the diaphragm is a network of lymphatic vessels that lead from the stromata to the cysterna chyli, the main lymph channel.  What does this mean?  It means that the thoracic diaphragm pumps fluid from the abdominal cavity and returns it to the lymph.  For yogis, this gives us another reason to do two things.. our pranayama practice and inversions, as inversions use gravity to bring fluid closer to the diaphragm.  These can be active or passive.  Two of my favorite restorative inversions are legs up the wall (with pelvis higher than head) and extended bridge.

Sometimes it feels that the thoracic diaphragm is locked down.  One technique for releasing the diaphragm is to add a little bit of compression.  Lying in sivasana with a 5-10 pound sandbag resting on the base of the ribcage is one option.  The other option is crocodile pose.  For crocodile, come onto your belly with the legs as wide as your mat, toes turned outwards.  Stack the forearms on top of each other so that you touch your elbows with your fingers and rest your head on your arms.  This will put a little more weight on the base of your ribcage.  Both of these positions require the diaphragm to work a little bit harder against the weight, but it does so without strain.  After 5-15 minutes, remove the sandbag or release your crocodile pose and notice the change in your breath and the fullness of the movement of the diaphragm.

Many pranayama practices also tone the diaphragm, but we’ll save those for another day.

Happy practicing!

pada bandha

by jsbodywork

pada2

Pada bandha is the bandha of the foot.  It typically draws the energy from the earth, up the center of the foot, and into the foreleg.  Review the blog entries on the foot and the foreleg.  Let’s explore it in tadasana, mountain pose.  Come to standing with the feet under the hip sockets and begin to notice how the weight is distributed over the feet.  For a moment, lift the toes.  This heightens awareness of the box of the foot.  Feel the four points of the foot actively root into the floor and then lower the toes so that they are active, but long.  As the four points root, the four arches naturally begin to lift.  This is pada bandha.  Remember that the weight bearing bone of the lower leg is the tibia and the steering bone is the fibula.  Allow the forces coming up from the earth to travel up the foreleg between the bones all the way to your hip sockets.  Continue to play with that action in other standing poses so that it is clear.

As you move into poses where the legs are reaching, allow space to take the place of the floor.  The activity in the foot and foreleg is the same and you will continue to feel as though you were sipping energy in, as if through a straw along what gyrotonics calls the 5th line of the leg, that line that runs through the center of the leg.  Activating pada bandha gives the leg levity and length.

Don’t become static with your bandhas.  Remember the jellyfish image.  Keep your bandhas live, active, and pulsating.  Open your range of choices.

Also check out Mark Stevens’ post..  Happy practicing!

the diaphragms

by julee snyder

We have now completed our introductory series through the skeletal structures of the body and their applications to yoga.  Next, we will turn to the horizontal supporting structures in the body, the diaphragms.  These include the soles of the feet, the pelvic floor, the breathing diaphragm, the thoracic inlet, the shoulder diaphragm, dome of the armpit, the palm of the hand, the throat diaphragm, the pallatte, and the cranial diaphragms.  There are also mini-diaphragms in the knees and elbows.  Most of these structure are muscular, some not.  Most are concrete and others more subtle.  They are all part of the container systems of the body.

Wendy LeBlanc-Arbunkle, a yoga and Pilates practitioner in Austin, TX, refers to the diaphragms as “Domes of Uplift”.  Yoga refers to them as bandhas and, in some cases, mudras.  We will examine each with a BMC approach, looking at the anatomy from a western perspective and then going into our sensation to explore their application to yoga.

Jellyfish
Take a moment to look at the movements of the jellyfish in this video.  Notice how the center relates to the periphery to create a doming pulsation that propels them through the water.  This is an early form of locomotion.  Begin with your hand.   As you observe the jellyfish, begin to mimic this movement with your own hand.  Let that movement pulse through your whole body.  Then one-by-one, go through each of the diaphragm locations and find a similar jellyfish undulation.  After this becomes more familiar, start to coordinate them, undulating from multiple diaphragms at once.  Now take it into asana.  How does it inform your poses?  Try it in both large and small ways.

The Parachute Game
One of the key ideas in the diaphragms is much like the parachute game many of us played as children.  Remember, all the kids held the edges of the parachute and when we all threw our hands up in the air, the center of the parachute dropped down at first and then would rise up when we pulled the edges down to the ground creating a dome of uplift.  Similarly, when we root the edges of our diaphragms down into the earth, the center has the ability to buoyantly lift upwards toward the crown of the head.  Come into standing and begin to root down the four points of each foot and feel the corresponding lift up through the arches.  Continue in this way to stack your diaphragms and feel yourself in alignment with the forces of gravity and levity.

More soon on each diaphragm!
Happy practicing!

the skull

by julee snyder

The skull consists of eight cranial bones and fourteen facial bones.  The cranial bones include the frontal bone, two parietal bones, two temporal bones, the sphenoid, the ethmoid, and the occiput.  The facial bones include the vomer, the mandible, and two each of the maxilla, the palentine bones, the zygomatic bones, the inferior nasal conchae, lacrimal bones, and the nasal bones.

Recently, my friend Patty Townsend posted this video on the Embodyoga Facebook page.  I loved her question, “What is the consciousness of these bones?”  To help you in your inquiry into that question, here is a link to a description of each of the bones with images.  Take time with each of the bones.  Palpate the ones you have access to and begin to imagine the ones you don’t. Notice their size, their shape, their location, and their proximity to other structures.  Bring your mind’s eye to this bone in your own body.  As you softly hold your attention their, take in the consciousness and resonance of each.  Also note the sutures between the bones.  What is the consciousness of the sutures?  How tightly or loosely are each held?

Spend a little extra time with the sphenoid.  Notice the consciousness of the different parts.  It has two sets of wings, forms the back of the eyes, collaborates with the occiput to form the base of the skull, and holds the seat (sella turcica) for the pituitary.  What is its’ relationship to the glandular system and the chakras?

Caution: There are  many amazing structures in the skull.  One could easily and quite happily get lost.  They are very supportive to a meditation practice.  It is important, however, to balance your explorations of the skull.  Keep your explorations relatively short.  Tether the head structures to the earth.  The tail is a fabulous source.  Balance the head glands with a consciousness of the body’s fluid system.  Stay in relationship – gravity, earth, friends, family, others.

Say tuned!  As I traverse my way through osteopathic school, I am confident I will have more insights on each of these structures to share.  Until then, enjoy your own explorations and please fell free to share.

Happy practicing!

the hyoid

by julee snyder

The hyoid is a horseshoe shaped bone at the top of your throat, above the larynx, just below and behind the chin.  It is suspended in a web of muscles known as the supra- and infra- hyoids.  I call these muscles, along with longus colli, the belly of the throat, because they function similarly to the abdominals.  Interestingly, the tongue is also attached to the hyoid.  You can sometimes find the bone by slipping your fingers below the chin to the throat, a little wide, and feeling for the bone to move by sticking out your tongue.  Don’t press too hard as this is a delicate part of the body.

Many students struggle to find their head placement in a soft supported way.  Awareness of the hyoid and the belly of the throat can assist spatial orientation of the head.  What I see most often is a forward head posture with a collapse of the throat.  It helps to soften the reach of the eyes and the senses, generally. From there, find the support through the lower body and then add a slight knitting of the belly in the throat as the hyoid draws slightly back.

Baby Sphinx
Review the baby sphinx study from the abdominals post.  Coming onto your belly with your hands in line with your shoulders and ears, engage the base.  Reach the toes and the tailbone back.  Add a slight lift of the pelvic floor and the belly.  Begin to yield and push through the hand and forearm.  As the chest begins to lift, feel the soft knitting of the throat as the hyoid draws back.  The head will lift just enough to clear the nose through center.  As you release, turn the head to the other side, and rest.

Once you have cultivated the feeling of the belly in the throat, try to feel it in different poses.  Start with table.  If you tend to hang your head low and round your shoulders, try drawing your hyoid back and see if that is enough to address the problem.  In sitting or standing, start with the base.  Use everything we’ve talked about so far to find support from below.  End with a slight lift of the top rib – most of us collapse it – and then draw the hyoid back bringing the ears over the shoulders.  Back off if this causes too much tension in the throat.  It is not the same as tucking the chin.

Triangle and Half moon
What about sideways poses like triangle and half moon?  Begin with the head in neutral, nose lining up with breast bone, naval and pubic bone.  Establish the front mid-line and lots of length from head to tail.  Begin the turning of the head from the belly.  Let the ribs respond.  Continue the subtle spiral through the throat, the soft palate, and the head.  If it helps, consider turning through the horns (cornua in the diagram) of the hyoid.  There is a ligament attaching the greater horns to the mastoid process behind the ear.

As always, happy practicing!

integrating hand to ribs

by julee snyder

Last month we integrated the hand to the shoulder using some of the principles from Body-Mind Centering (BMC).  Today, we will explore the relationship of the hand to the ribs.  This comes from the BMC developmental work.  In utero, an infants’ hands are curled up into little fists, usually with the thumb inside.  The hand begins to uncoil from the pinky toward the thumb in the process of learning how to push down with the hands to lift the head.

Baby Sphinx revisited
Review the baby sphinx study in the post on the abdominals.  When the baby is resting belly down, his little fists are usually under his chest with the pinky side down.  The baby begins to push through the outside of the pinky and ulna as he begins to separate himself from the earth.  Over time the pinky finger comes out and the dorsal surface presses down.  As it does, the first two ribs begin to lift away from the floor.  As each finger opens and roots down, another two or three ribs are able to leave the floor.  Working in this way, find the following connections: ribs 1-2 to the pinky finger, ribs 3-4 to the ring finger, ribs 5-6 to the middle finger, ribs 7-9 to the pointer finger, and ribs 10-12 to the thumb.  Continue to explore these connections in other poses.

Telescoping arms
Another great study that I first learned in dance, I believe from the Bartenieff fundamentals, is telescoping arms.  Rest on your right side with your head on a blanket, right arm straight out from the shoulder, and legs bent.  Stack your left hand over your right hand.  Find a gentle rocking rhythm, spiraling the spine from the tail and rotating gently through the ribs.  Each of the following instructions can be repeated several times allowing for a gradual progression.

Let the top hand slide past the bottom hand and then to the wrist.  Slide the top hand to the bottom elbow and then back out beyond the fingers.  Continue to the bottom shoulder and back out beyond the fingers.  Let the hand come to the heart (or mouth) and then back out beyond the fingers.  Slide to the top shoulder and back out passed the fingers.  Then let the top arm brush along the bottom arm, across the chest and suspend like pulling back an arrow.  Then rewind, sliding back out and passed the bottom fingers.  Finally, let the top arm sweep open all the way to rest in a twist.  Take a couple of breaths.  Then curl the fingers in, slide across the chest and back to resting, hand on top of hand.

Now reach the fingers passed the bottom hand and begin to arc the arm up toward the sky, opening like a book into a twist.  Curl the finger in.  Slide the hand across the chest, the bottom arm and passed the fingers.  Repeat several times.  Then reverse, sliding the hand across the bottom arm, across the chest and open into a twist.  Coordinate the initiation of the tail and the fingers together to reach back up toward the sky, closing the arms like a book, and stacking the hands.  Repeat several times.

Pinwheel arms
This study is a continuation of telescoping arms.  Rest the arm overhead alongside of your ear.  Keeping the arm close to your head, begin your rocking motion.  Initiate the movement from the tail and let it spiral toward your head.  Notice the rolling through the ribcage.  After a few, let the arm separate from the head a bit.  As you rock forward, let the arm fall forward.  As you come to center, let it suspend or reach slightly through center.  As you rock back, let the arm fall backwards.  Let it be lazy at first – close to the body.  After a few of these, let the range of the arm get a little bigger.  Find a natural rhythm of suspending in space and falling into gravity – little overcurves.  Eventually begin to add a stronger reach as you circumscribe arcs overhead, letting the top arm sweep passed the bottom arm, arc overhead and then open into a twist.  Rewind.  Coordinate the reach of the fingers with the initiation of the tail.  After a few repetitions, let the arm circle all the way around, on the floor if you can, brushing lightly over the hip and belly.  Make sure to incorporate the spiraling through the ribcage.  And explore the perfect balance between a relaxed lazy arm and that little bit of effort that extends the reach through space.  When you are ready, reverse your direction for a few rounds.  And then rest, letting your body absorb before switching sides.

Happy practicing!

the ribs

by julee snyder

The ribcage consists of 12 pairs of ribs attached to the 12 thoracic vertebrae and the breast bone.  They arc around from the back body to the front body forming the circumference of the thorax, protecting the heart and lungs.  Most people think of their ribcage as rigid.  Maybe it’s the cage part of the term.  It does actually look much like a bird cage if you remove the shoulders.  It’s narrow at the top and fuller at the bottom.  But there is a lot more mobility in the ribcage than many of us think.  The ribs have some capacity to in-flare and out-flare.  This is partly due to the pliability of the cartilage attaching the ribs to the breast bone.  They also lift on the inhale and fall on the exhale, respectively expanding and reducing the thoracic volume.  The intercostal muscles, in between the ribs, are the muscles that lift and lower the ribs.

Opening the side body
Come to sitting sideways on your mat with the long edge of a bolster (or rolled blankets) on one side and bent legs on the other.  Slide out so that you are side-lying over the bolster, pelvis down, knees bent, and shoulder either on the ground or just hovering.  Let your head rest on your bottom arm unless that is uncomfortable.  If it is, place your head on a folded blanket and bring your arm forward of the shoulder.  Take a few easy breaths letting your spine softly mold over the bolster.

From here, reach your top arm away from your ear and arc it up toward the ceiling, pausing right over the shoulder.  Softly reach from your hand to your fingers with a soft spread over the front and back of the hand.  Now bring your attention to the side of the ribcage facing the ceiling.  The position will limit the breath in the underneath side and allow more breath to fill the side of the body facing the ceiling.  Focus your attention here, allowing the ribs to lift and lower like handles of a bucket.  The ribs will lift one away from the other up towards the sky on the inhale and fall back down toward the spine on the exhale.    Begin to feel the connection of the expanding lungs and lifting ribs to the reach of the arm.  As the lung fills and the ribs lift, begin to reach the arm a little ways over head.  On the exhale, pause and re-stabilize your shoulder blade.  Continue until the arm is reaching overhead.  The bottom hand can grab hold of the top arm and add a gentle tug.  Take a few breaths here.

When you are ready, add the reach of the legs.  Notice that the abdominals wrap from the back body around the breath toward the front mid-line.  Softly press through the feet.  If you would like to take this into a twist, keep the hips stacked while separating the legs; top leg forward and bottom leg back.  From here roll the top side into the back space, letting the head fall to the floor or a blanket and the top arm or elbow reach into the back space.  If that is painful for the shoulder, let the hand come to rest on the belly.  Find the pleasure in the pose.  Breath and rest deeply into it.  To come out, rewind back to sidelying, bend the knees in, let the hand fall to the floor, and slowly push to sitting.  Switch sides.

Spiraling the ribs
Just as we began to divide the pelvis into two halves, it can also be interesting to look at the ribcage as if we had two ribcages, a right one and a left one.  Imagine for a moment you were in tadasana with your arms reaching overhead.  It’s possible to conceive of the body as two long tubes from the foot all the way up to the hand with a spine in between.  Each tube can rotate toward the front mid-line (in-flare) as well as away from the front mid-line (out-flare).  And each tube can spiral on its own individual axis.  The two tubes can also spiral around each other like the image of ida and pingala – two snakes coiled around one another with shashumna in the middle.

Consider a simple seated twist.  Begin sitting tall with the legs in your favorite position.  Let’s turn to the left.  Feel the little turn begin in your pelvic floor and then let the belly begin to wrap.  Pause.  Starting in the diaphragm and the base of the ribs, begin to spiral from the sternum to the left along the length of the ribs into the spine, wrapping the left rib cage into a spiralic out-flare.  Then from the spine, follow the length of the lower right ribs toward the sternum, wrapping the right ribcage into a sipralic in-flare.  Continue to travel this way through the ribcage.  Letting both sides spiral on their individual axes as well as spiral wound the central axis of the spine.  Continue the spiral through the soft tissues of the throat and cranium.  When you are ready release and go to the other side.  Remember to keep the spine nice and long in the middle.

Happy practicing!