The Bikram class , teachers often say, is “scientifically designed”. Not being a teacher, I don’t know the full story. But from what I’ve gathered so far, it mostly means: capitalizing on the way how blood flows and what cells do. It’s using biophysics.
So, the injuction against drinking water during camel and rabbit is not about upsetting a stomachful of water. Rather, the intensely curved back of these two postures compresses the cells along the spine like a hand squeezing a full sponge. The focus is on flushing out the cells. And if you drink, you interrupting the draining, convert the cells to absorbing mode.
Sounds reasonable, right? It certainly matches that utterly drained, utterly released feeling of those two poses.
Allowing a natural process is also why we must remain still in the long savasana. If you lift a limb, blood will move to those muscles instead of cycling freely from heart and lungs to toes and brain and back again.
The same process is why the short savasana recurs and why it lasts 20 seconds. That’s how long it takes for the blood to make the complete circuit. That’s so every cell is refreshed with a touch of new air.
“The tourniquet effect” and “high-speed blood” are two phrases that recur. The whole damming up of the coursing fluid thing—I believe that’s what healed my knee during a 30 day challenge a few years ago. When I started it, my knee was so swollen, my torn meniscus so aggravated, I could manage only a 90 degree angle between my thigh and my calf.
But day by day that month, millimeter by millimeter, an average of three degrees a day, I pressed thigh toward calf –all my weight borne by my hands–and conscientiousd lay down quickly afterward. I regained full range of motion. The knee still gets a little cranky now and then, but it’s never been as bad.
Western medicine does not believe much in biophysics. But scientists do. And so does yoga.