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254 AMATtmn or HATHA I OCA

most comfortable position (probably rotated out about 45°), but don't permit the hips to rotate out of the frontal plane. Come back up and repeat on the opposite side.

The overall sense of this posture is one of relaxation, in contrast to th( standing side bend with the feet together or to externally and internally supported standing options. For this pose you maintain only enough tensioi to keep the body grounded in its frontal plane. In most students the postun is restricted in the lumbar region, mainly by the rib cage (in this case, th eleventh rib) butting up against the ilium. You can feel this for yourself 1 you insert your fingers between the rib cage and the ilium as you bent Laterally, you can feel the tip of the eleventh rib, and just in front of th; you can feel the inferior edge of the tenth rib, but the twelfth rib end posteriorly beneath the erector spinae muscle, and you will probably not 1 able to locate this one unless you are slender and lightly muscled.

WHAT MAKES POSTURES DIFFICULT?

The standing postures we have discussed so far illustrate the principle that underlie standing stretches, bends, and twists, but they are n t generally demanding. As we have seen so far in this chapter, the simple t and safest thing anyone can do standing is to strctch without eith r twisting or bending, and this is why we started with the mountain postu; the side-to-side stretch, and the overhead stretch. Then came stretchi g and twisting at the same time, but still without bending.

Next in difficulty are the three bending postures (backward bendii forward bending, and side bending) in which we have to be concerned w 1 two more complications: how and to what extent we counteract gravity, a i how bending affects our breathing. First we discussed backward bendii the most elementary of the three, in which the hip joints don't permit \ u to go back very far. in which gravity is not a major issue, and in wh h breathing helps you regulate your capacity for stretch. Next came forw d bending, in which hip flexibility and the pull of gravity become all-import; t, and in which perhaps half the middle-aged students in a beginning cl. start asking themselves serious questions about the safety of their bac s. Last came side bending, the least common movement in ordinary life a id one in which the anatomical restrictions that protect you are not as w 1-honed and dependable as those for forward bending and backward bendi I-

We have focused on simple movements so far to illustrate fundamenl; s. but more demanding standing postures are also widely practiced. Ap 't from generally requiring more strength, aerobic capacity, and flexibil y than the poses so far discussed, what specifically makes them challengi ig is that they usually involve complications—combining twisting with bendu i, doing twists and bends when some particular joint is in an unnatui d

position of stress, coming into a difficult internally supported stretch in which strength becomes a primary issue, and going from the final position of one difficult posture directly into another difficult posture. The triangle postures that follow illustrate all of these principles.

Lessons in Raja Yoga

Lessons in Raja Yoga

An easy to understand book on the principles and practices of Raja-Yoga alike. It teaches the eight steps

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