1 - Salabasana - passive (preparation of the groins)
Exercise for two. It takes 2 bolsters and a chair. The student lies on the two bolsters, belly directed towards the ground. The distance between the bolsters depends on the flexibility of the student. They will be brought together as long as the groins do not lose touch with the ground. The pupil places his hands on the edge of the chair - arms are stretched. The partner presses the student's gluteus towards the heels and outwards. This has a double effect: both the groins open more and this allows to give more space to the lumbar.
2 - Ustrasana "to the flow"
You need a chair. The knees are at the level of the ischium and slightly apart (width of the pelvis). The sacrum is pressed against the edge of the seat - and one leans back to get the back of the skull on the back. The arms run along the feet of the chair. As the pelvis and the head are supported, one can in this exercise concentrate on the opening of the "armpit chest", that is to say of the zone that is under the armpits at the height of the chest. This is a good variation for a sequence with a restorative tendency or for beginners.
3 - Ustrasana on the wall
I do not comment: does everyone know, or else?
4 & 5 - Kapotasana "drop back" preparation
In variant 4 a chair is used to land the top of the skull on its seat, the thumbs are at the level of the sacrum, they will be lowered beyond the crease of the buttock as one leans back. The pressure of the hands in the back of the thighs helps to keep the pelvis forward and the thighs vertically as long as possible, while the opening work is done at the level of the armpit chest.
In variant 5, we are back to the wall in the starting position for Ustrasana. Here the elbows are bent at 90 ° and the hands arranged on both sides of the trunk, without contact. One leans backward keeping the pelvis above the heels as long as possible (this time without using the thumbs as in the previous variation). Then the tilted arms are tilted backward to reach the wall and eventually to descend to touch the ground. The distance between the feet and the wall must be decided according to the flexibility and the temerity of the pupil.
6 - Ustrasana in the strings
I admit it at once, I loved this variation of Ustrasana which was very light! An anti-slip mat should be placed under the shins on the wall to avoid accidents. The knees are level with the pelvis along with a horizontal line. Needless to say that the rope is at the level of the sacrum and not in the lumbar. And then we lower our arms to the ground or we catch the ankles for who can.
7 - Preparation in Kapotasana
It takes a chair and a wall. It is also a very good exercise. Here the knees are on the ground on a blanket - they are slightly apart and the shins completely in contact with the wall and parallel to each other. The pelvis is in contact with the chair and palms on the seat. One uses the support of the hands to flee towards the rear in order to bring the top of the skull against the wall. The arms are as in Bhujangasana - slightly bent. The more the chair is away from the wall the more the back bending is intense. It is necessary not only a good flexibility of the trunk but a good opening of the groin and the quadriceps to practice correctly the variation of this advanced posture.
Here is the sequence by point - each number corresponds to the number on the drawing below.
1 - Preparing props for salamba sarvangasana for beginners
The support for the shoulders (here in Germany, one takes plates of recycled foam about 7 cm height + a cover ..)
First, the belt is prepared, the buckle should be shoulder width The plates are installed at a distance from a forearm of the wall The chair is arranged so as to catch the feet with the arms extended when resting on the support.
2 - Distance Shoulders / Support
When lying down, the student uses his thumbs to place his shoulders at the proper distance from the edge of the support. The correct distance corresponds to the length of one inch.
3 - Assemble the basin
The pupil begins to raise the pelvis by using his feet on the wall
4 - Switch the legs on the chair
It is here that the partner (in gray on the sketches) intervenes. He places himself on the side and ensures the student by placing his hands on each side of his pelvis and helps him eventually to tilt his legs on the chair.
5 - Halasana on chair
The student finds himself in Halasana, which is when the partner helps him pass the belt around his arms.
6 - placement of partner before final position
The partner is behind the student and places one foot on the belt between the student's arms (on the belt portion that is glued to the support, not the top one, because crushing it would return the elbows One to the other) and DELICATELY placing the knee at the level of the sacrum of his pupil: this is to help the student to find the proper alignment of the trunk and not to move the weight towards the neck!
7 - Help the student to get to the final position
Here the partner places his hands on the student's upper thighs and helps him climb one leg after the other vertically guiding with a hand at the level of the tibia.
8 - The student has officially arrived in Salamba Sarvangasana.
The circular movements described below and illustrated above make it possible to obtain a compactness in the body.
a) Circularization of the armpit chests
This point is ESSENTIAL: the shoulder blades descend in the back and against the posterior ribs, the chest opens forward.
In progress, I often see shoulders pointing down and a bump in the back (in principle it goes together) in order to compensate for the lack of strength in the trunk and arms. Be careful this bad placement causes bursitis in the long term. This inflammation of the subacromial bursa should be avoided at all costs for it is very difficult to heal.
b) Circularization of the pelvis
c) Circularization of the legs
d) Legs rotation
These three points go together since they concern the action in the legs. These are the same points as in Tadasana.
The action of the pelvis is well known, one pushes the tailbone down, while the pubis bone rises.
The back of the legs is extended towards the heels while the whole front legs go towards the pelvis.
Finally, the legs rotate on their own axis towards the outside.
These three actions together make the legs compact and strong and make them contribute to lift.
e) Hand twisting
Finally, the simple act of turning out the hands makes allows the shoulders to activate, rolling back and down from the ears. More specifically, the elbows will stick to the ribs allowing more compactness of the trunk.
In conclusion, these circular movements are found in many postures but as Chaturanga Dandasana requires a lot of strength, putting these actions in place to achieve a certain compactness, especially in the legs, will help you to hold the pose and not only thanks to your triceps.
First of all, let us see two exercises of the opening of the groin in order to prepare backward flexions. These two exercises are done on the wall, and they are also two variations of Bhujangasana.
The first exercise is also called “Rope # 1″ in Iyengar Yoga (where the use of a support for the groin is not compulsory). In both cases represented on the upper sketches – the groins are supported:
In the first case (left drawing) by a bolster placed on a chair,
In the second (right-hand drawing) the strap is placed at the level of the hollow of the groins. Pressing gives information to the muscle and allows it to relax so that it opens up more. The first sub-variation makes it possible to open the frontal groins and the chest (almost) passively, since one “hangs” from the strings.
The second variation opens the groins and strongly urges the extensor muscles of the back to lift the unsupported chest.
2 – Bhujangasana with chair
(or how to understand the circular legs to torso movements)
What is remarkable in this asana is that the legs are completely on the ground which produces a large surface of grounding as there are few or none in other back flexions. Here we learn the ABC of the legs, trunk and the pelvis work in the back bending, a work that will be all the easier to understand that the important points have a grounded support.
What are the actions which help provide space to the lumbar?
a. You need to work on your feet and legs:
The small toe will be pressed more closely towards the carpet (if you choose to hold your feet together you will leave the big toes in contact). This has the effect of moving the heels outwards and this pressure combined with the activation of the thigh muscles supporting the internal rotation initiated by the correct work of the feet has the effect of giving space to the buttock bones and thus to the lumbar (QED).
b. Through the work of the pelvis (Tadasana effect).
Here, as in Tadasana, the pelvic girdle makes a circular motion, the pubis, and the outer hips press the ground while the tail bone descends.
“Supta Padangusthasana” is a great classic to start classes. Especially when it comes to preparing the legs for forward bendings and standing poses. This variation in “supta”, that is to say lying on the ground. It prevents the back from going round or on the contrary hollowing two ways to compensate stiff legs at the beginning of a class. Even those suffering from lumbar pain can practice this asana without a problem provided they respect the symmetry of the pose.
Here we will focus on the first variation: “Supta Padangusthasana 1″ – in which one leg is stretched frontally. “Supta Padangusthasana” means “elongated posture of the arm extended to the big toe” but the sketch represents a version with the belt which is widely practiced since most of us are not able to catch our big toe without bringing a disaster to our alignment.
In Supta Padangusthasana, both legs are taut, the back is straight and stretched, the chest is open and the collar bone wide, the length of the left and the right trunk is equal. As there is a great deal to be said about this posture, it is only on the last aspect of this list that I would like to address today: What are the actions to be taken so that the side trunk of the stretched leg – which will tend to shorten – remains long and equal to the one of the sides of the ground leg?
Let us see, then.
There are, of course, hundreds of ways to describe actions that lead to this point, and each have its refinement. I will describe here the one I love most, which has the advantage of being pragmatic and easily understandable compared to others more subtle and which require a very developed sensibility (see for example the video of Lois Steinberg, who teaches to move the leg from the ovaries (!
What is great in Iyengar yoga is that everything is perfectly logical. To any action, corresponds one or more “counter-actions”. In Supta Padangusthasana, I have often heard “extending the trunk (of the stretched leg)! But for a long time, I did not know how to do it. Let us, therefore, take our stretched leg towards the ceiling in Supta Padangusthasana 1. Here the principle is obviously also valid: pulling on the belt towards the ground will not be enough. In order that the side trunk of the stretched leg remains long, the following two actions/counteractions are implemented:
1 – Pull the belt towards the floor, from the shoulders AND push the foot towards the ceiling– specifically push the part of the foot where the belt is placed – (yellow arrows). This allows the following effects:
a) bringing the shoulders towards the ground, which brings the chest to open,
b) stretching the leg.
2 – One pushes the leg towards the wall AND at the same time one subtly brings the hands towards the head(illustration red arrows). This is a key action since it makes it possible to lengthen the side of the trunk!
Eureka! Simple but super efficient.
Note: The position of the belt on the foot directly affects the way how the leg works. Note that the belt at the level of the metatarsals (1) has an effect on the inner groin, in the middle of the foot (2) this gives access to the knee joint, while the belt on the heel gives access to the hip joint.
Two other variations of Supta Padangusthasana on the wall are also shown on the sketch.
Two other variations of Supta Padangusthasana on the wall are also shown on the sketch.
This second version requires an extra belt that will be fixed between the foot to the wall and the hip of the stretched leg. The latter is fixed before tightening the leg so that the side of the trunk remain of equal length upon stretching the leg. In this variation, one learns to feel that the two sides of the trunk remain equal, in order to be able to work without file thereafter.
The third variation shown below comes from my support notes of yoga therapy classes, it is a very passive form of Supta Padangusthasana. In this variation, all the alignments are made with little effort and the abdomen remains entirely pacified. You will need both belts placed as in the previous variation, a “Viparita Karani box” and a weight to simulate a wall for the ground leg, and finally a ring to which one will fix the third belt to fix the stretched leg towards the ceiling. No need to say that it takes quite a lot of props to implement this variation and especially a personal assistant.
Parsvottanasana is formed by the two words “Parsva” (sides) and “Uttanasana” (intense stretching), so it is a forward bending when the flanks are stretched intensely. According to B.K.S. Iyengar, this posture would have a refreshing effect on the brain (“cools the brain and soothes the nerves”).
For this article, I limited myself to three versions of the “concave” version (one must understand “where the back is straight”), and you will see why not the final posture. Here I propose to study a variation of the posture with the front foot raised on a block in front of a wall.
What do we want in Parsvottanasana?
a) A clear base: the feet (drawing A)
The inside of the heels is in line.
b) Fix the hips (drawing B)
The hips are in line with the front edge of the carpet. This makes it possible to obtain an equal length of the sides of the chest.
c) Extend the sides of the chest (drawing C)
This is the meaning of the word “Parsvottanasana” as explained above: when the feet and hips are fixed, then the upper body is projected towards the shinbone of the foreleg while extending the sides of the trunk “intensely” from the chin moving forward.
Why use a block?
In Parsvottanasana, as in standing poses where the trunk is turned forward (as for example Virabhadrasana 1), one seeks to have both sides of the hips in line with the edge of the mat (see drawing C). Now the correct alignment of the hips can not be obtained without a good base, ie without a good job of the feet. This is our driving action to get the rotation of the hips.
In this asana, it is often observed that students lose firm pressure of the inner front foot to the ground. Having the front foot supported allows to firmly press the root of the big toe in order to activate the inside of the front leg, reaching to the buttocks bone. This slightly shifts the center of gravity backward, which helps to squeeze the back heel in order to activate the back leg upwards.
Hands on the wall
Use of the wall is done once the base is fixed (feet and hips). The wall helps to stabilize in the posture, but not only: at first (drawing 1) the hands are raised as high as possible, this extends the sides of the chest, even more, then the abdomen is brought parallel to the ground (drawing 2). The hands and elbows are placed on the wall at the same height as the shoulders while keeping the back straight and the sides of the chest well stretched. It is an intermediary step before touching the ground with the hands or on blocks placed below the shoulders. This is the concave version of Parsvottanasana.
At this stage, one could continue to describe the posture until its final stage where the chin, then the forehead comes to touch the shinbone. But in fact it is a continuation of the work described above : in order to reach the final posture, there is nothing else to do but what is described above, a great flexibility in the hamstrings is especially necessary and since this is a sweet dream for many of us (unless you cheat with legs not really straightened… follow my eyes), it is a posture that you will not practice much in a beginner class.