Muscles activated or engaged, Cause and Effect
Lateral Deltoid, flexed abducts the arms away from body
Lower Trapezius keeps shoulders down and depressed slightly
Middle Trapezius retracts shoulders
Latissimus Dorsi will marginally prevent the Scapula from flaring
Internal Intercostals pull ribs in and down
Internal & External Obliques keep abdomen tight and help to bring body close to thighs, help to hold them there
Rectus Abdomius aids to hold abdomen taught and assists with lock
The Quadriceps
Rectus femoris lifts patella up
Vastus Lateralis, with Vastus Medialis and Vastus Intermedius, hold leg from turning inwards or outwards and prevent knee from hyperextending
All these together allow the leg to hold weight while enabling the Hamstrings and posterior leg muscles to release
Iliopsoas – Iliacus and Soas Major tighten to bring abdomen to the thighs
Contraction of anterior tilt
The aim of the pose is to bring the body to rest against the legs in an active forward bend. The feet are stood on the palms of the hands; the elbows are bent at 90 degrees and drawn out on a frontal plane in line with the body. The rear of the neck is straight, so chin should not be jammed in to neck. These effectively help to keep the back straight so the forward bend is deeper and stronger, while the chest cavity is still clear for deep breathing.
By resting on the palms, the mind is able to focus more on the balance of the body in the balls of the feet, the anterior tilt and upward lift in the hips.
To move in to this pose you must start in a strong standing position, feet should be hip width apart parallel with the edges of your mat (both directed forwards). Focus should be directly ahead, so neck is straight, Drishti is the nose tip. A strong contraction of the Quadricep muscle group is essential to protect the knee and allow the Hamstring muscles to relax.
First take a deep inhale, and retract the shoulders slightly to straighten the back. Hands should be firmly holding the hips, at the point of the Ilium. These adjustments should be done whilst inhaling.
On the exhale the body folds forward from the hips. The back of the neck and the shoulder position remains the same, as the torso comes down towards the thighs. Ideally in this pose the aim is to have the abdomen resting on the thighs, so a deep flex is required on the Iliopsoas.
Use the next inhale to lift the torso a little and straighten the back, whilst releasing the hands from the hips and sliding the hands under the feet. The toes of each foot should touch the wrist, and balls of the feet resting on the hand palms, tops of hands in contact with the floor.
The exhale allows the body to come back down against the thighs. Weight can be transferred in the foot to the palms of the hands here, rather than being mostly in the heel. Legs should be straight, Quadriceps engaged without knees being hyper extended and Hamstrings will be relaxed.
The arms will be bent out to the sides of the body, in a lateral plane. To help maintain a straight back face focus should be forward of the feet. To move deeper in the pose it is recommended to lock the abdomen.

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