Thursday, May 1, 2014

Walls don't lie and you can't cheat the floor

For part 2 on lateral standing poses, we are using a props to show us the truth in our poses.  So you think your arms are in one line in Utthita Trikonasana?  Test that against the veracity the wall.

Start with a block near your front ankle with your feet wide apart and the front leg turned out 90 degrees.  With both shoulders against the wall, bring the front hand down to the block.  Notice how much harder this is than when you do Utthita Trikonasana in the middle of the room.  Why?  Because the wall tell you the truth.  The wall has the added advantage that you can't stick your buttocks out.  More truth.
If you notice that my top elbow is away from the wall, that is a result of the shape of my arms.  For more on carrying angle, check out the wonderful interview of George Purvis on the Iyengar Yoga in Houston blog.  He really is all kinds of awesome.

Now for some more wall truth.  Utthita Parsvakonasana.  I remember when my teacher, Karuna Nicols, first taught me this.  I learned that my back leg lies to me all the time.  My leg tells me it's straight, that it's working hard and I'm pushing that thigh back enough.  LIAR!  The truth of the wall will set you free.

Here's how to do it: place a block behind your back thigh against the wall.   Foam blocks are a little easier here, but who wants easier?

Then bend your front leg to form a square, moving into Utthita Parsvakonasana - but keep the block against the wall.  Now that back leg is straight.  If you lose the block, your leg bent (or the block got stuck to the wall and didn't move with you).  The carrying angle of my top arm is pretty obvious in this pose; however, I should still work more to get that top shoulder closer to the wall.

That was exhausting, so let's lie on the floor.  It's great to be on the floor and practice standing poses.  The floor is even more accurate than the wall.  Plus you can hold standing poses for 5 minutes without a problem.  Floor poses are great for those that need more flexibility.

First let's try Utthita Trikonasana - the supta (reclined) version.  Place both feet at the wall.  Put your front foot on a block.  The foot is on a block to have the correct alignment of the front foot to back arch - if your foot was on the floor, the leg alignment would be heel to heel.   Lean on your front leg, so you can turn it out 90 degrees.  I usually get on my entire side and roll out.  Extend your back leg back so that foot also touches the wall.  Bring your front hand down to the block and roll out, so both shoulders are on the floor.  The floor, being a flat surface, will show you how much you can turn out.  It will also show how high your foot block should be.  See how my fingertips just touch the block?  Something would have to give way to get my hand all the way to the wall.
 You can do a similar thing in Ardha Chandrasana.  Here I'm using a corner, so I can press my back leg into a wall.  This pose feels so open and spacious on the floor.  It's also really hard to lose your balance.
It's fun to try the standing poses on the floor and feel how much your body wants to cheat you out of the regular pose.

You should stay long enough that a cat falls asleep in your armpit.

1 comment: