Monday, September 10, 2012

Pose of the Month

Pose of the Month: Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)

In the Ayurvedic context, Autumn is known as a Vata season, or a season of change.  Vata is filled with the qualities of air, and when the winds of change are in the air around us, sometimes we can have a hard time feeling grounded.  Lizard pose is a wonderful pose to practice if the transition into your fall routine leaves you feeling jumpy or anxious.  It is a personal favorite of mine.  It is simple and effective, and comes with myriad variations to suit the needs of your hips, legs, and back on any given day.

-Opens the hips flexors
-Opens the thigh muscles
-Releases the back
-Balances Vata Dosha
How to:
1. Come to a low lunge with your right foot forward in between your hands and your back knee lowered on the floor.
2.  Heel-toe your right foot to the outer right edge of the mat so both hands come to the inside of the right foot, stacked underneath the shoulders.  Check that the right knee is stacked over the right ankle; if the knee is moving past the ankle then step the right foot farther forward.
3. If this is too difficult, place blocks underneath your hands.  If you need more stretch, lower the forearms down where your hands were, either onto blocks or the floor. 
4. Squeeze the right knee toward the right shoulder.  Scoop the belly button in and up, and lengthen the tailbone down and back.
5. Stay and breath for at least five deep and full breaths.  Let gravity win, and enjoy the close proximity to the ground.
6. Repeat on the left side.
Popular Variations:
For Outer Hip Opening: Turn the right toes out toward the side of the mat and roll to the outer edge of the right foot, allow the knee to splay out to the side. Press the right hand into the right inner thigh just above the knee and twist the chest toward the sky by straightening the right arm as much as possible.  For extra Vata balancing, inhale from the twist, then exhale and turn the chest toward the floor and undulate the spine forward.  Move between these two shapes for several breaths. Repeat on the left.
For Quadriceps Opening: If you are comfortable on the forearms, cross the left forearm across the top of the mat, otherwise rise back onto both palms. Reach the right hand back for the right foot.  Turn the shoulders toward the floor and forward fold, gently pulling the right heel toward your bottom. Repeat on the left.
For Strengthening: Tuck the left toes and lift the left knee off of the floor.  Firm the thigh muscles.  To add core strengthening, rock forward way on to the tops of the toes and feel the lower abdomen engage. Take the right hand to the right ankle and work the right shoulder under the right knee.  Extend the right arm out to the side like an airplane wing.  If desired, lengthen left arm out as well.  Repeat on the left.

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