Alinging & Adjusting Standing Postures (Event Sold Out)
21 January @ 13:30 - 15:30
Organised by : Martin Thompson
(Event Sold Out) Aligning the standing postures is fundamental to accessing the seated postures. Without proper engagement of the standing postures, a whole universe of understanding evades us. Working the…
(Event Sold Out)
Aligning the standing postures is fundamental to accessing the seated postures. Without proper engagement of the standing postures, a whole universe of understanding evades us. Working the standing postures, with awareness, alignment, bandha, drishti and mudra will transform your practise. Spending time and effort on the standing poses, and by this I mean holding the postures for at least 10 breaths and more, is essential for a proper understanding of the depth of what is often overlooked as a warm up sequence.
The standing postures are meant to test us, building strength and stamina, but we should feel light and energised by them, and not depleted. When we first revisit the sequence, investing much much more energy into the postures, we will notice the effect. With patient practise and dedication, the investment soon pays off, and we develop a light and graceful practise.
I will take trikonasana as an example of how we begin to analyse and take a fresh look at how we are executing the postures. Its important to recognise that we are all different, and any adjustment need to be in a way unique. Take a basic adjustment, and try and make it fit each of the students in a class, and you will soon notice it doesn’t fit all. Lets take the space between the feet as an example. A student with lots of flexibility will want to take a wide stance, but look closer, are they able to support the stretch. Quite often the trailing knee will be collapsing, and this will be because the back foot is not equally grounded. It may not be because they are overstretched, but just not working hard enough to support the posture. This can be rectified with the correct verbal adjustments, you will soon see how quickly the student breaks out into a sweat.
The most common thing I see in a class is how heavy the students look in their postures, there is no sense of realisation of the subtle energies of the practise. This way of practising will affect the whole structure of the posture, not only from the gross physical aspect, but the subtle aspect as well.
One way I adjust students, is by getting them to let go of attempting to line up the perfect posture. I tell them to relax and grab the big toe in trikonasana, even if the top hip collapses. Once they have grabbed the big toe I ask them to now attempt to lift up and back that top hip. At the same time I ask them to lift the trunk up and out of the lower hip. Its like trying to lengthen the trunk away from the pelvis, without it moving forward. Now I ask them to tilt the pelvis up slightly to engage the rectus abdominus, one reason is to protect the lower back. Now we have created length in the trunk the shoulders are stacked, and the chest will be open. The shoulder blades will need to be pulled back, and the chin tucked a little to keep the cervical spine in neutral.
So far so good, but now we can take the attention back down to the feet. I now ask my students to press equally into both feet. Its amazing how often I see the inside of the leading foot lifting up, even in experienced students. This will put the knee under pressure, and it misses a big part of the posture. Once the feet are correctly placed, I ask the student to push firmly into the leading foot, and at the same time lift the shin, knee and thigh. The opposing forces lifts the torso up and away from the floor. The hips automatically want to stack, and the trunk wants to extend. Now we need to check alignment once more.
We begin to experience the subtle aspects of each asana, and how there is a whole universe within each and every posture
Now I’m not saying that this bring about perfect alignment, but what it will do is bring energy into the posture, leading to alignment. Taking that big toe, engaging with the earth while lifting out at the same time, will expand your awareness of the posture. We begin to experience the subtle aspects of each asana, and how there is a whole universe within each and every posture. Tapping into the subtle energies of asana, not only by utilising the feet and hands as bandhas, but the joints as well. Lifting up knee caps while pushing the feet down will harness the energy that is created. This action will in turn draw the energy up into the hips, which in turn uses the energy to lift and expand the whole trunk.
Once we have experienced this way of practising and adjusting asanas, we begin to understand why yoga is very different from other exercises. It is not an exercise program, it is far deeper, and brings change on many levels.
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