Great group of students at “Yoga Basics” on Saturday, 3/10. We covered some key foundational poses and moved beyond. This weeks notes for home practice, spotlights a few poses (not all) from our practice along with other hints, references and suggestions. Try to practice a couple or all of the following 4 poses at least once in the coming week.
1. Find Your Seat: Get Centered
We focused on finding a comfortable cross legged sitting pose. In class, we used a rectangular bolster and/or blankets. At home you can use a cushion or folded blankets/towels.
a) finding enough height under the seat so that the knees were lower than the top rim of the pelvis or level to it.
b) a slight tipping fwd. of the rim of the pelvis “imagining a steady yet small flow of water, that ran forward over the rim of bowl”
c) balancing the weight of the shoulders above the mid-back (thoracic region of the spine) and the weight of the head above the neck (cervical region of the spine).
d) keeping the shoulder carriage broad and relaxed, with the weight of the shoulder blades settling down and away from the ears.
e) relaxing along the jaw line, hinge of the jaw, between the eyebrows, under the chin and around the throat.
Please read this very thorough article, “For Beginners:Easy Pose”(Think like a kid and take a seat) written by Claudia Cummings.
2. 1/2 Moon Pose and Knee Down Variation
After a variety of prep work, we explored using the wall to increase stability, elongation and confidence in a knee down variation of 1/2 Moon and 1/2 Moon itself.
a) The Knee Down Variation started on hands/knees, a legs length away from a wall.
1) First the right leg was lifted and extended so that the flexed foot, sole of the foot flat, firmly met the wall, and the toes pointed straight down. The leg was long and straight, without locking out at the knee and with the leg going no higher than the hip/buttock.
2) The left leg stayed bent on the mat (with a blanket under the knee for comfort, or the mat doubled over for support). The left knee was a pivot point from which the lower leg swung slightly to the left. The toes on the left foot remained tucked under (pads of the toes) firm to the mat.
3) As the left lower leg swung to the side the right leg and foot on the wall rotated. The foot rotating 90 degrees so that the inner edge of the foot (big toe side) was parallel to the floor.
4) The left arm moved in a few inches towards the right to create a column of support. The left upper arm and bicep rotating externally to further set the left shoulder blade (scapula) into the upper back.
5) As confidence in the pose increased, the right arm lifted into the air and the right shoulder was stacked above the left.
6) The gaze remained off to the side to keep the neck in line with the rest of the spine and not rotating to look up at the ceiling.
7) Some finishing details included radiating out through the extended leg, opening up across the upper chest and back and lengthening along the spine all the way to the tailbone.
8) We switched sides and followed the same recipe. Then we repeated the sequence on both sides with the option to stay with the foot on the wall or to move away from the wall.
*Another variation to the above steps, is often used as an alternative to Side Plank. The Side Plank alternative involves keeping one knee on the ground, and extending the other leg (without lifting the leg to hip height).
b) 1/2 Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
In class, we went to the wall with a block and practiced 1/2 Moon Pose. Please read this article by Maria Apt., especially the section, “Against the Wall”
Remember to work on keeping the weight distributed evenly through the foot that is on the ground. I mentioned a nagging habit of mine, that of the turning in my standing/balancing foot. We saw it in each others poses and we talked about minimizing the rotation so that the toes on the standing foot pointed straight and the ankle stayed even, balanced and strong. We talked about how too much rotation (both inwards and for some people outwards) could cause strain to the knee.
3) Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
After all the concentrated and focused effort held through a basic yet challenging class, Legs Up the Wall was a welcomed rest and period of integration. We practiced the pose for 10 minutes. For those who felt uncomfortable holding the pose that long, the alternative to simply rest in a reclined position was offered. The benefits and practice points of Viparita Karani are outlined in this wikihealth article.