Monday, June 29, 2015

Spectrum of difficulty in Virabhadrasana 3

Hello again blog world.  It's been some time.

A few people have asked why I haven't included chairs on my yoga blog. Two much more experienced teachers have books out all about doing yoga with chairs, so check them out. 

Arun, who I've studied with quite a bit, has a wonderful book out called Experience and Experiment on the Chair.  You can buy your own copy here.  You can find some great books in the IYNAUS bookstore, in addition to this one.

There's another chair book out that you should also get called A Chair for Yoga, by Eyal Shifroni.  He has a different approach to the chair, so both books should be in your library.

 Maybe if I learn some things not in these books, I'll have a chair blog post.

On to Virabhadrasana 3.  Or perhaps you'd rather not go there?  There are so many challenges in this pose: it requires great core strength, more flexibility than people think, and a great amount of balance and concentration.  Below is a spectrum of ways of approaching this pose.  I've organized it from least to most difficulty for me.  You may not agree.

One of my favorite ways to practice this pose is on the floor.  Ok, some people might call this supta padagustasana 1, but it's also  Supta Virabhadrasana 3.  The interesting thing about this one is that it shows you how much flexibility you need for the pose.  A lot.

Now, you have to stand up.
Use blocks under the hands and have the back foot at the wall.  It is fairly easy to keep the hips level and the leg lifted.
To add challenge to this one lift the hand on the opposite side of the standing leg.
Then lift the same side leg.

Turn around.  Place your hands on the wall, keep your arms evenly pressed into the wall with straight elbows, then lift your leg.  Being on your fingertips is more difficult than hands flat.  Do not allow one elbow to bend, it is a sign that your torso is also uneven.

A variation on any of these is to put a block on the hips to keep them level to the floor.

By placing the side of the body against the wall, all of the elements of the pose are there, except balance.  This also keeps the hips nice and compact.

To make balance more challenging, but still adding a little support, put the foot at the wall for your balance point.  This variation is not done from blocks under the hands, that is below.  You can start with your chest lifted and the back leg a little bent.

To do free standing pose with a little help, use a strap and pull the strap apart.  This helps more than you might think.

Finally, for lots of core work, go back to the blocks under than hands and the foot at the back wall.  Then lift both arms away from the blocks.  If you do not take your standing leg thigh back strongly, you will fall out of the pose (or bend your lifted leg, which is cheating).

Teaching cats bad habits.

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