Wednesday, June 4, 2014

NYY's Pose of the Month: JUNE


As we enter into the hot and sunny months of summer, the element of fire within us begins to brighten.  In the Ayurvedic context, summer is a time of Pitta dosha, or fire constitution.  According to Ayurvedic teachings, Pitta is the dosha responsible for helping us to cleanse, to transform, and to digest both food and information.  However, when Pitta becomes deranged we get irritable, angry, cranky, and usually we develop skin and digestion problems.  Some of us are naturally born with a higher dose of this fiery constitution, and some of us may gain an excess of it based on our environments.  If you find yourself starting to get cranky on a hot day, try doing this month’s cooling forward bend, Prasarita Padottonasana.

Prasarita is taught often and appears simple, but many of us are not doing the pose justice and we do not even realize.  The first mistake people make is that they prioritize getting the crown of the head to the floor over coming into the pose with proper alignment.  The crown may come down over time, but if you want to do this posture without blowing out your hamstrings or low back, there are a few things that need to be set up first.

-Hold the arms out to their fullest wingspan and separate the ankles as wide as the wrists with the feet slightly pigeon toed.
-The fold should begin from the pelvic region, so tip the pelvis back so that the sit bones and pubic bone begin to point back
-Begin to move the chest forward, pausing at the halfway point so the torso is parallel to the floor.  Check in with the pelvis once again to ensure that the sit bones and pubic bone are moving back.  Draw the pubic bone and the chest away from one another.
-Release the hands to the floor directly underneath the shoulders; maybe even to blocks if you sense that the low back is beginning to round.  Keep the quadriceps engaged and the back flat.
-For many people, you should simply stay here and breathe.  Remember, this pose is meant to calm the hyper-ambitious Pitta dosha,.  This is not a pose you can muscle your way into.  It’s one that requires an allowance of ease and opening.  Take it from me, you will go deeper into the pose the less work you do in it.
-If you can keep the sit bones spinning up and back, you may begin to crawl your hands back until they are in line with the feet and point the elbows straight back.
-For some, the head may touch the ground.
-For my hyper-gumby friends, you actually need to do a little bit of the opposite in this than you are normally instructed – squeeze the sit bones together, but just move the pubic bone up and back.  It is extra important that you remain vigilant about activating the quads the entire time.

There are variations galore to this pose:
Prasarita A

Prasarita B

Prasarita C

Prasarita D

Written by: April Evans

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