pointing behind you. Bring the wrists and elbows together tightly, and p |] the hands toward the head until the forearms are perpendicular to the fl> .r and the elbows are in contact with the abdomen (fig. 3.23a). The wrists \ U be extended about 90°. If this is a problem because of previous wi st injuries or wrist inflexibility, you may not be able to do the peacock ui i] the situation has been corrected with other stretches. Most women 1] have to squeeze their breasts between the arms above the meeting point ir the elbows. If you try to create more room for the breasts by allowing ie elbows to come apart, one or both elbows will slip to the side and of! ie abdomen when you attempt to complete the posture.
Holding this position, take the knees back as far as possible and tl -n straighten them, sliding the toes as far back as you can, supporting 3 or weight on the top of the head, the hands, and the feet (fig. 3.23b). This ty be all you can do. If so, remain in this position for 20-60 seconds to b Id your capacity.
Still keeping the elbows in position, lift the head. Then slowly take } ur weight forward by extending the elbows, supporting most of your we ht on the hands and some of your weight on the extended feet (fig. 3 •). Again, you may find it useful to remain in this position for 20-60 set ds rather than go further and fall forward.
Now, while bracing the back and thighs to keep the body as straigl as possible, pitch your weight forward by extending the elbows until yoi; re balancing all of your weight on the hands, paying special attention U he
J AlsnOMINOPELVIC EXERCISES 175
fingertips. You have to keep the body rigid enough for the toes to lift off the floor (fig- 3.23d), and the back muscles have to be very powerful to accomplish this, especially if you want to keep the back relatively straight in the final pose. Although we'll delay detailed comments on the design of the upper extremities until chapter 8, the muscles that stabilize the two scapulae (the shoulderblades) are also crucial to this effort, especially one—the serratus anterior—that keeps the scapula flat against the back and pulled to the side (figs. 3.11-12 and 8.9).
Assuming that your abdominal muscles, back muscles, and scapular supporting muscles are strong enough to support the posture, and assuming that you have been able to keep the elbows in position, the main problem for most people is developing enough strength in the flexors of the forearms to permit a slow and controlled eccentric extension of the elbows. To complete the posture, the forearm flexors have to support the entire weight of the body. They lengthen eccentrically as you bring your weight forward, and as you try to come into the final isometric position you may exceed their limits. One of three reactions is typical: you may fall forward on your nose as the flexors suddenly relax and give way under the influence of inhibitory input to motor neurons from Golgi tendon organs; you may fall
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