Padangusthasana, Padahastasana and other standing forward bends
Options and ideas for how to work Padangusthasana and Padahastasana, whether or not you can do the full poses. Plus, how to use muscles against each other without binding.
I break down the body into recognizable components that we can directly feel, control and understand
While bones provide references and joints the control-logic; our muscles give us the ability to feel our body while we control it.
This approach is a variation on first principles, with the added idea of isolating "signals", the definable sensations we feel when we directly experience our body.
For more on this, read getting started.
From why do yoga in the first place, to how to start a yoga practice, and how to modify yoga poses. At the beginning level you could simply focus on getting started, even if it's at home.
Scroll sideways in the list above for beginner related articles.
Dance of shiva can be used as a warmup for your brain, and for your arms. Some basic memorization is involved. It helps you get used to clearly defined positions and movements and trains you to recognize different possibilities.
Yoga poses could be looked at as a context for learning your body. Learn the basic shape of each pose, how to modify it, and how to counterpose it and even how to sequence yoga poses. From there, you can then use each yoga pose as a way of better learning your body.
One way to categorize and group poses is by position, i.e. standing, sitting, kneeling, prone etc. It can be possible to do yoga routines that consist solely of one group of poses, i.e. all standing, or all seated. Or it can simply provide an easy way to find yoga poses on this website.
In this section, the "action" can be a side bend, a twist, a back bend or a forward bend. This can be handy if you want to focus on any of these actions, or if you want to find modifications or substitute postures that have a similiar affect but may be more appropriate for whatever reason.
Improving strength can be about strengthening muscles. But it can also be about getting your muscles to work well together. When your muscles are active, they generate sensation. If you can feel your muscles activating, you can get them to work together.
When working on arm strengthening yoga poses, it can help to be aware of your ribcage and shoulder girdle. From there it helps to also be aware of your elbows (they rotate!) and your wrists. If you want the parts of your body to work well together, you have to understand the parts!
As with working on arm strength, when strengthening the legs, it can help to learn how to operate your hips, knees and feet/ankles. Another important element when working on leg strength (and leg flexibility) is the SI joints.
Flexibility is not floppiness! You could look at flexibility as learning to be strong in end ranges where one set of muscles is lengthened and their opposing muscles shortened. But, flexibility also includes being able to relax in end ranges.
As with strengthening the arms, when stretching the arms it can be helpful to be aware of your neck and ribcage as well as your shoulder girdle, elbow and wrist/hand/fingers.
When working on leg flexibility (which includes hip, glute, hamstring, adductor, quad flexibility...) it can be helpful to be aware of the hip, knee, foot and ankle of the leg you are stretching. It can be helpful to also be aware of the SI joints.
Psoas stretching can be challenging. Before stretching your psoas (or if your psoas keeps tightening up) you might want to ask yourself why it is tight. In any case, while stretching your psoas, work at anchoring it. Give the muscle a stable foundation from which to stretch. And if you want to release it, maybe try making your hip joints, knee, and even your foot and ankle stable.
Spinal stretches include side bends, twists, front bends and back bends. One idea to bear in mind with the spine is that it is designed to be flexible. So rather than simply trying to maintain "neutral spine", instead learn to feel it and control it and stabilize it where and when necessary.
I've always assumed that the meridians are embedded in connective tissue. These are meridians from Traditional Chinese medicine. They provide a Map of sorts, and one very pleasant way to use this map is as a guide to stretching the body. You simply follow the flow of the meridians to guide the sequence of stretches.
There are ways to operate your body to make it more "feelable". In addition, you can practice feeling and controlling parts in isolation so that you can better feel and control your whole body as the sum of those parts. Scroll sideways in the list above for more details.
8 book Ebook bundle, $48.00.
Dance of shiva for coordination and mental flexibility, balance basics for understanding balance, yoga basics 1 and 2 for getting a feel for your body, hip control guide and yoga for your shoulders for learning your hips and shoulders, wheel pose for tips on learning difficult poses and know to flow to learn how you can use flow and it's opposite state for enjoyable learning.