Halving wholeness.

May 2015 200hr YTTC
Blog Article 4 – Asana & Anatomy
Halving wholeness.
They say, ‘It’s not about touching your toes, it’s what you learn on the way down’. Indeed.
Before the course, I have never been able to touch my toes when I want to. It was usually something that happens ‘when I am warm enough/just had a workout’ and ‘by luck’. And this is almost embarrassing to admit, especially after learning that mathematically/by ratio of proportion; everyone should be able to touch his or her toes. The length of our outstretched arms and torso combined is definitely far longer than that of our legs. Even for someone like me- not being flexible enough to touch my thighs/knees with my chest, one should technically still be able to manage the fingertips touching the toes. The most important take-home advice I concluded for myself? Is being whole (in body and mind; having knowledge) enough to half myself (fold nicely and evenly) effectively.
Needless to say, I have been doing it wrongly all along, not focusing on folding properly at the hips, not breathing correctly, etc. Again, another pose I have seen around a lot, and thought to be boring and simple, proved to be something that involved total body engagement. I used to mutter to myself, “Is there a need to do this so slowly and give so many instructions” every time the instructor at the gym guided the class into Uttanasana. And yet, sadly, every single time I would miss touching my toes by that few centimeters.
The 200hr YTTC course has taught me about:
Posture- my back should be neutral, stretching flat and forward before bending down- also, my arms should be effectively stretched/extended at this point. I should not be hunching/rounding my back.
Technique- I should lean forward slightly, putting my heels, knees and hip in a single plan (when looked at from side view).
Both dorsiflexion and plantarflexion should be going on in my feet- weight should not be on the heel or ball alone.
Kneecaps should be lifted, engaging the legs.
Breathing- I should focus on maintaining regular-paced breathing that is deep and slow. On going down, I should exhale.
Drishti- A soft gaze should be at the tip of the nose to maintain focus/balanace.
How to go into the pose:
Stand with feet together, flat on mat -> inhale, stretch arms up -> exhale, fold forward at the hips, lifting tailbone up slightly and leaning forward -> Ensure dorsiflexion & plantarflexion of feet, lifting of kneecaps too -> Tuck the belly in and reach extended arms to floor, keeping knees straight. Breathe into the pose, going deeper with each exhale.
I can now touch my toes with ease and realized that the tips in Uttanasana make all of the seated poses much easier. It is the same, just that instead of standing up, I am seated. Conscious effort to sit tall and flex at the hip is still required- in fact, harder for me when I am seated down. In Paschimottanasana, effort is required to bend at elbows and pull the body forward, bringing chest to knees. Even more strength and concentration is needed in Paschimottanasana D- where hands are on the mat, ‘clawing’ forward. Definitely the next Asana I will be working on perfecting. Slowly, but surely!
By Carmen L.

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