Before coming to Singapore to joint the “200 hours teacher training”, I have not practiced Ashtanga yoga, that why some very simple poses like Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A,B,C, D, I could not do perfectly.
I know a rule that, all the standing poses, we must use the leg muscles or in another way, our legs must be very strong, but in that series I always feel my raising leg very tired so my arm must do more work to pull the leg high, especially, in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana D, I couldn’t hold my leg high in 5 breaths. And I know that I did not do it in proper way.
I read some article in the internet, some people say that, you must push femur in the socket and keep it there when you move your leg. At first, push the femur in the socket is not difficult but when it moves, it seem to be a little bit out of the socket, and it’s difficult to hold it there.
One day, I read an article in a kungfu forum. One said that, if you want your kick more powerful, you need use the upper thigh muscle to pull your thigh as high as possible, hold it there and kick… Suddenly, I have the feeling of the upper thigh. I try to apply this experience in the poses, to make the raising leg more powerful and stable. Instead of just raise my leg, I use my upper thigh muscle to pull my thigh up, hold there for several breath, keep the feeling of squeeze the upper thigh muscle during the pose. I kept practicing it so many times, as slowly as I can and bring it to Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C and especially in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana D, I can hold my leg 90 degrees to my trunk for more than 5 breaths easily.
Practicing Asana, in my mind, like practicing my mind to connect with my body or say in other way, to control my body effectively. In beginning, I learned how to control some very simple parts of my body and after that I don’t need to think when I do it, for example how to rooting the four corners of both feet in the ground or to be aware of lengthening the spine. After, I continue learning to control some more added parts, for example, how to still rooting the four corners of the foot in one leg pose, how to keep the spine straight and open the chest… without thinking of the simple thing that I’ve mastered.
One more thing, in the original, Asana means comfortable seat, which says a lot about its original intentions. Most of the earlier asanas described were just that, seated postures preparing us for meditation. So when we don’t feel comfortable when practicing, it can be said that we’re not ready for the pose or we’re posing in inappropriate way – I mean both physical and mental body. And beside keep practicing, we should spend time thinking and finding other way of controlling our body.