Spine, Space, Vortex, Lift, and Hydrodynamics

The human spine is such a wonder to discover, to behold, and to feel. Along this stack of vertebrae, we find the seven (7) main “energy” vortices or chakras (as in Yoga) which are associated with the biological systems of our human anatomies.

Table Lifted from “Anatomy Comes Alive” Course Material

I find deep sense of empowerment from this thought: each spine in a body has intrinsic (Divine, if you must) “powers, vortices, energies, and capacities” that could be generated and nurtured from within and perhaps, could be nourished by support from our communities - our “greater selves”. The spine, as a concept, symbol, and as a body part, weave together both virtues of 1) self + mindfulness, and 2) service + meaningfulness.

The positivist physical anatomy seem to find alignment with the spiritual ontology.

Space and Spine

The process of maintaining and keeping the spine healthy as in many Yoga traditions, involves “expansion” and space creation; and encourages elongation and some degrees of rotation. Space at different scales within the body, is created by aeration/ breathing (as in Sivananda lineage?), and re-alignment/ centering (as in Bikram and Iyengar lineages?) and flowing transitions (as in Ashtanga and Vinyasa lineages?).

Spine and Water Vortex

The spinal curves (lordosis on the cervical and lumbar spine and kyphosis on the sacral and thoracic spine) form a sinuosity that is reminiscent of our primordially aquatic origins. I cannot help but explore this apparent fluid connections…

I sought insights from a competitive swimming coach and yoga practitioner and teacher, Amy Bidrman of http://www.amybidrman.com

We began sculling. The figure 8 or the “Infinity” (if you’re feeling auspicious) of hand movement created a tiny but powerful vortex (by changing pressure gradient rapidly in the water column)!!! And right in the middle of this vortex, a magical space eventually appeared!

With every stroke, swimming into that tiny space felt surreal. With minimal effort, the whole body or bodies glided, almost friction-less in and on water. I felt being lifted. In these tiny moments of elation, all the “techniques” just merge into the realms of intuition.

Bernoulli, Lift, and Sailing

The vector of forces at play around this space is so fascinating. The Bernoulli’s effect in Hydrodynamics elegantly explains (steady-state flow): increasing the velocity of flow, decreases the internal pressure... As in sailing, it is the differential pressures and the velocities of fluids (airflow) that creates this tiny space for “lift” and forward motion.

Swimming and sailing, I find, are not really about exerting so much effort to move the water/ air around or to catch/ push against it, but rather about maximizing this Bernoulli’s effect to generate lift/ forward movement. It is by creating “space” (decreasing pressures at certain points) that one can facilitate movement at great velocities, more efficiently.

In other words, movement, such as love, (stretching this) flows with less resistance by creating space; and not by constricted struggling and coercion.

NOTE: Feel free to reference that in your love life woes, and other political party meetings.

I believe “flow” is operative word for when the body and the spine is allowed to communicate and be with the water. To be “in the flow” is a state that feels somewhere in between negotiating and surrendering to the bigger mass that surrounds us.

To create flow, we must create space in the spine and elsewhere.

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