Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pose of the month - Kapotasana

Pose of the Month
Kapotasana – Full Pigeon
By April Evans

Near Thanksgiving many of us contemplate the many things for which we are grateful.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, practicing gratitude and compassion can help us heal, help, and rebuild.  Kapotasana, a pose which is equally grounding and heart-opening, is the perfect representation for being rooted in compassion.  The full expression of Kapotasana is not right for all bodies and can take years to achieve.  Respect your body’s boundareies; as long as your intention is to open your heart, you’re still doing the pose.

-Stretches the entire front body (ankles, thighs, groins, abdomen, chest, throat)
-Stretches the psoas
-Strengthens the back muscles
-Extreme heart opener

How to:
Before coming into this pose, ensure that the quadriceps, hip flexors, shoulders, and chest have been warmed up.

1. Come to stand on the knees. Point the toes and press the tops of the feet and the shins into the floor.

2. Take the hands to the lower back and use them to press down and lengthen the lower back.  Feel the tailbone lengthen away from the crown of the head and the lower abdomen engage, firm the thigh muscles.  To find this sensation of stability in the thighs and lower back, place a block between the thighs and squeeze the thighs into the block.  The remaining steps may be done with or without the block.

3.  Lengthen the back of the neck by tucking the chin toward the chest.  Continue to press down on the back of the pelvis with the hands, and on an inhale lean the chest back and tip the heart further toward the sky.

4.  Use the strength of the abdomen and the legs to support the body in this shape while bringing the hands to press together in a prayer shape at the center of the chest

5. Continue to lift the heart, slowly drop the head back.  When the floor behind you becomes visible, begin to reach the arms overhead and drop the hands, then the crown of the head to the floor behind you.

6.  Actively press the shins forward and down into the floor and lift the pelvis as much as possible.  Begin to crawl the hands toward the feet so the forearms come to the floor.  You may be able to grasp the ankles or the calves.

7.  Take at least 5 deep breaths here, feeling the shins and forearms root down while the front of the body opens and expands.

8.  To come out of the pose, walk the hands backward so the forearms lift off the floor.  Use the strength of the arms to lift the head and tuck the chin back in toward the chest.  Take one or both hands to return to the lower back and lift back upright to stand on the shins. 

9.  Hold child’s pose for several breaths.  After such a deep backbend it can also be useful to hold plank pose for several breaths

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