Kkvard Ufmmnc Postures

Figure 6.25a. This preliminary pigeon, allowing the front foot to come to a neutral position, is comfortable for everyone who has healthy knees. The right thigh is flexed, the left thigh is hyperextended, and the back and neck are fully extended.

Figure 6.25b. Folding into a forward bend from the previous posture is a comfortable and richly rewarding posture for many students. The pose increases flexion of the right thigh and lessens hyperextension of the left (high.

F|gure 6.25c. The advanced Pigeon, with the front leg approaching a 90" angle from •"e front thigh, and featuring a lumbar backbend, should °e approached with respect and caution.


your knee joint and a deep pulling sensation in your hip joint on that sar side. Inexperienced students should never lower their weight down agait t the front thigh in this position because it places too much stress on t knee. Intermediate students can moderate the tension on the front knee working with the classic pigeon posture—lifting up on the fingerti| pulling the head and shoulders up and back, thrusting out the chest is much as possible, and taking empowered thoracic inhalations to inert e their inspiratory capacity. Advanced students complete this posture iy grasping the sole of the rear foot and placing it against the top of the h d (fig. 6.25c).

hip flexibility standing

Improving hip flexibility in standing forward bends requires a differ ut mind-set from working with hip flexibility in supine, inverted, or siti ag positions. Standing postures present special problems because we place he feet in positions that often depart radically from the norms of ankle, k >e, and hip movements needed for walking and running. Any time we p, nt the feet and then come into a standing posture with a twist, bend, li ;e, or some combination of these three, we place stress on the hip joints nd their supporting muscles. The problem is that we do not ordin, ily readjust the feet to make the posture easier, which indeed would iss the point; instead, we work with the posture by increasing the ter on in muscles around the hips and knees. To this end, many instrue >rs recommend standing on non-slip rubber mats to keep the feet firn in place and immobile. Beginners are well-advised to begin with mode ite foot positions to minimize stress, which allows them to explore star ng postures in their mildest form before working with more deman ng versions. To illustrate we'll do two experiments, one for the hamst igs and one for the adductors.

We'll begin with an adaptation of the angle posture (figs. 4.25-2( ind 6.26a-b) to stretch the hamstrings. Stand with the feet about three eet apart. Then rotate the right foot yo° to the right and the left foot 30° t the right. Given this foot position, the torso will most naturally face aboi 45° to the right, and the hip joints and the muscles that restrain them w be relatively comfortable. To continue, swivel to face the right foot as sqi ely as possible, and notice that this movement alone creates intense tensi 'in the left quadriceps femoris. Counter that by tightening the left glu als-The left thigh is now hyperextended, causing the head of the femur t>e driven into tight apposition with the acetabulum. If you keep standii up straight, hyperextension of the left thigh forces the lumbar region ii o a deeper lordetsis. There is bttle or no tension on the right hamst 1 ig5 because the right lower extremity is still in a neutral position.

6 forward hfndim, postt'res 379

Then, facing the right foot, establish full nutation of the right sacroiliac joint by tightening the right psoas muscle, and then slowly fold forward, first from the hips (fig. 6.26a) and then in the lumbar region. As you come down, the right hamstrings come under more tension (fig. 6.26b). Keep the muscles of both thighs active to make the posture feel more secure, and notice that this also makes you feel more confident in coming forward. Come up and repeat on the other side.

This posture involves a swivel and a forward bend at one hip joint which is intensified by the weight of the upper body. The resulting stretch is more demanding than hamstring and hip stretches in supine, inverted and sitting postures because now you have to be attentive to the body as a whole—and this is one of the easiest and least complex of the standing postures. Most others, especially the triangles and lunges, place even more stress and tension on the hip joints.

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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