The unknown is a scary thing for so many of us. The worry and fear about what might happen in the future or the replay of the past that we perceive as painful creates tension in our bodies that sometimes presents as unconscious gripping of muscles around the neck, shoulders or hips, holding patterns with the breath, or disconnection with our bodies partially or completely.
There are many factors that might prevent us from embracing the unknown and becoming disconnected from the present moment. Things like attachment, grief, loss and trauma, the sense of “busy”ness, or the feelings of being/having/doing “not enough” get in our way. This attachment to whatever 'was' or whatever 'may be' is repeated over and over in our minds on replay.
When we keep thinking negatively about the past or the future, we attach to something that is not happening now which creates that anxious and uneasy feeling. When we are too attached to our story and life doesn’t go our way or when worry and fear cloud our perception of reality, we feel even more anxious and afraid. This cycle continues over and over creating even more anxiety and fear and we move further and further away from ‘whatever is’ right now.
Taking deep breaths, tapping your feet on the ground, conscious movement and relaxation techniques, or looking for beauty in music, nature, and art can bring us back to the now. When we are here now, we can sometimes release our fears and anxiety.
As BKS Iyengar wrote in the Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali "Non-attachment is the deliberate process of drawing away from attachment and personal affliction in which, neither binding oneself to duty nor cutting oneself off from it, one gladly helps all, near or far, friend or foe." The personal affliction part can be quite challenging when we are so attached to our own story in life. He continues with "Non attachment does not mean drawing inwards and shutting oneself off, but involves carrying out one's responsibilities without incurring obligation or inviting expectation."
In other words, release your attachment to your past experiences, do "the thing" whatever that "thing" might be for you and LET GO of the outcome for the future. Let it be.
The truth is that life sometimes goes exactly as planned and sometimes it takes us by surprise; it’s how we respond to the twist and turns on our path that create either resistance or acceptance.
The Popliteus muscle is a small triangular muscle that lives right behind the knee. This super small and super cool muscle seems to have two important functions. It assists in knee flexion and internal rotation of the lower leg. Sounds like an important job considering how many people have knee problems, and it’s a shame that this thin, flat muscle doesn’t get the fame and attention it deserves! Well I am here to change that, so let me tell you how cool this muscle really is…
Let’s start with where Popliteus hangs out. The popliteus is located near what is called the popliteal space. According to earthslab.com, “Popliteal Fossa is a diamond-shaped hollow found on the rear side of the knee joint. When the knee is bent it becomes relevant. As it gives passage for primary vessels and nerves from the thigh to the leg, this fossa has great anatomical significance.”
Now that you are familiar with the popliteal fossa, let’s take a closer look at the popliteus muscle. This short bellied muscle can have a huge impact on the stability of the knee joint. The popliteal tendon crosses behind the knee superficially (closer to the skin) and passes the lateral meniscus, as it then moves diagonally and downward to attach at the tibia. It is said to be the only muscle behind the knee that does not directly act on the ankle. Although it may not directly act on the ankle joint, it might impact the surrounding joints indirectly. How does it do that you ask? The popliteus’ action or inaction and it’s connection with the lateral aspect of the meniscus, the oblique popliteal ligament, the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (responsible for side to side stability of the knee), as well as the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (responsible for front to back stability), can impact knee joint stability. When these ligaments are out of balance, the knee is out of balance. They are like myofascial family and one can really impact the other strongly! Within the human body, when one joint is out of balance it indirectly impacts the joints above and below it (hip joint, ankle joint). To complicate the effect even further, due to biotensegrity within the body, every other joint is subtly shifted and impacts the shape and function of all the other joints in the human body.
So, what can you do to improve your popliteal function? Let’s start with a way to release a tight popliteus. Start out in a kneeling position and place a Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball behind your knee on the lower leg. Begin to slowly sit back to increase the pressure of the therapy ball to your desired level of intensity. You can also start to cross fiber by moving your hips to the right and left while continuing the pressure of the ball behind the knee. Try to imagine the deep popliteus muscle connecting with the ball and releasing once you release the ball.
There are also some yoga poses that explore the popliteal function. For example, marching from Tadasana, mountain pose to chair, triangle pose to warrior 2 and Yoga Tune up® Warrior 3 squats! Give them a try, focus on your knees and notice the deep popliteus muscle initiating knee flexion and stabilizing the knee as you move from one pose to the next.
There is so much more to learn explore around the knee joint so this is only the beginning, but for now just enjoy how ‘fossa” nating the popliteal fossa and muscle really is!
The role of the oblique popliteal ligament and other structures in preventing knee hyperextension.
Popliteus, the Tiny Muscle of Knee Pain, https://neurokinetictherapy.com/2012/04/22/the-popliteus-the-tiny-muscle-of-knee-pain/
Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Popliteal Region Hyland S, Varacallo M. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532891/
[image of popliteal fossa retrieved from https://www.earthslab.com/anatomy/popliteal-fossa/]
Some thoughts just need to get out of my head or they will be stuck in my mind forever.