Saturday, 14 February 2015

Ardha Chandrasana to Trikonasana and Back Again

Moving to trikonasana from ardha chandrasana variation

In my own practice I do not come into postures the same way all of the time.  Aside from moving actively, I think it is important to enter and leave posture in different ways so that you don't fall into habitual patterns.

In this sequence I enter trikonasana from a sort of unsupported ardha chandrasana and then come back to ardha chandrasana again.

The way I move requires and helps enhance stability around the ankle, knees, and hips.

If you cannot balance like this now, it does not matter, you can slide your foot along the ground.

Watch the video first to see movement in action then take a look at the step by instructions with a few key points highlighted.

It was raining as I took this video so it is a bit cloudy but we take our practice as it comes when we practice outside.  In this video take I also almost overbalanced at the end but not all practice is perfect so I put this one in rather than other ones where I made no mistakes.

Now, see some of the step by step instructions below.

They are, of course, not all of the key points for this posture, but some that I am flagging in my current classes.

It is important to realise that I am rolling my front thigh (balancing leg) out in all postures and rolling my back thigh (or raised leg) in.

Establish length and stability around the lower back
From behind

I do this by moving sitting bones down, top of pelvis back, to lengthen my lower back.

At the same time I begin to initiate some spinal forward flexion in a way that makes my tummy firm but so I can still feel as though I can feel it move when I breathe.

It is important to appreciate that I firm my tummy before I even take my back foot off the ground.

Weight transferring to standing leg without sinking into hip
Transfer weight while maintaining lift

It is important to make sure you feel lift out of the hip and leg that you are transferring the weight to.

Throughout this process you need to stay lifted out of that hip joint.

Firm tummy, long lower back, and staying lifted out of the standing leg hip joint are some of the real fundamentals of these postures and the transitions.

Leaning forward and lifting back leg
Maintaining all previous actions I lean forward, and keep leaning forward until it feels quite natural for that other leg to come off.

It is really important to emphasise I am not dropping into that standing hip here.

If you look at the picture you can see that I have tummy muscles active but not sucked in.  That would make me tight and immobile in my spine.

Reaching the back leg out and down
The back leg keeps going out.  I keep leaning my torso forward.  I keep all actions I initiated in the beginning.

At this stage I am in more danger of sinking into my standing leg hip.  I need to stay lifted.

Practically that means I need to keep sitting bones down and top of pelvis back, keep the thigh of that leg rolling out, and avoid jutting that hip out to the side.  It is tricky but will keep you feeling light and strong in the posture.

Leg lowers, they straighten, then active spinal twist
From there I maintain all the work around the lower back, tummy, and hips and lower the raised leg to the ground.

I stretch the ground with my feet (as though trying to separate my feet without them moving anywhere).  This activates my legs.

I don't take my legs too wide.  Who cares?  I also don't take my hand to the ground.  Not necessary.  Of course you can if you want to but make sure you maintain the important actions you have been cultivating.

The key spinal movement here is to perform an active twist from navel up. You can see my tummy muscles have been working but, again, they are not sucked in, which would stiffen my spine and make the active spinal movement impossible or difficult or certainly very rigid.

Bend knee, lean forward, come back in reverse
From there I make my way back to ardha chandrasana.

When you work well from your hip (lifting and not sinking) and from your tummy (firm but calm) you find that you do not need that leading hand to come to the ground.

In fact, you begin to find it is a bit of a nuisance on the ground and you feel better and more lifted with it off.

I took this video standing on a metre high block so there was no where for me to put my hand but most of the time I don't put it down anyway.

Putting your hand down to the ground will make it more likely you drop into your hip.  For me, one of the main purposes of this posture is to help develop some stability around that hip joint.  I think it is better to keep the hand up and toe on the ground if you have difficulty balancing.

For me this transition is a good chance to practice lifting out of the standing hip and cultivating some good balance.

I start from lengthening lower back and firming tummy then go from there.  It does not matter how wide your legs are or whether you reach the ground.  In fact, sometimes going wider and for the ground will not give you as much benefit.

In this video I demonstrated leg raised versions.  However, you could just as well lightly slide your foot back to trikonasana, and just keep a toe tip on the ground for the ardha chandrasana variations.  From there you get a good chance to practice all of the hip stabilising actions.

This approach to movement and posture is what I teach in classes, retreats, and workshops.  I really look forward to sharing with you.  Our Bali retreat is filling up so do get in quick if you want to join us in April!

Much metta,

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