Practice tip of the Month – January 2014

“It is not the look of an asana in any one moment that provides true health but how the asana sustains you over time.” AW

One Legged Balancing Postures

Standing head to Knee
Standing Bow
Balancing Stick
Separate Arms Balancing Stick
Tree Pose
The importance of maintaining even and consistent weight distribution of the foot on the floor when practicing one legged balancing postures can not be emphasized enough. When the three points of the foot are grounded only then can you truly grow and expand the posture. These opposing forces enable one to maintain floor to the core communication and offers tremendous stability as the posture is organized along the midline of the body. This stability is essential to maintaining properly aligned sacroiliac joints and a healthy spine.
Take your time moving in and out of postures avoid falling to the outside of the foot and falling into the joints of the hip, knee and heel. Instead try stepping into the posture and feel the heel, little toe, big toe connect and maintain connection with the earth below. By maintaining equal pressure of the foot on the floor you will not only be able activate the thigh muscles but also recruit the arch, calf, hamstrings, inner thigh and gluteus muscles, in affect stabilizing your pelvis in relationship to gravity.
One should first define success in the posture by one’s ability to ground your standing foot not by whether or not your knee is locked. Make sure to feel the floor under the mound of the big toe, stabilize the ankle and recruit the back of the leg to counter the thigh muscles. Practicing this way will ensure that all the energy moves along the vertical axis and prevents the energy from escaping out the back of the ankle, knee and hip. 
If you have been accustomed to stabilizing your postures via the hip, knee and ankle joints know you are not alone. It is never too late to learn something new and improve. In the beginning your body will be weak and unsteady of the above approach and your mind may be even more unsure. Be patient as it will take some time in order to recruit the leg muscles efficiently but persistence will pay off. 
Steps you can take to move towards better alignment and balanced muscle recruitment:
1. Step into the posture slightly flexing the knee and push into the earth with big toe mound. (Slowly grow the asana until the knee is in a neutral position, avoiding hyper-extention)
2. Make sure your foot and ankle are grounded and stable all the way into and out of the posture.
(continuously receiving information from the floor to the core)
3. Keep your hip over your knee and your knee over your ankle at the same time aligning your upper inner thigh to the sagittal plane.
(If this is not possible in the beginning bring your knee forward enabling you to ground the big toe)
4. Find stillness in the maximum expression of your posture without losing the above alignment.
5. Lastly allow the corners of your mouth to turn up – it is only yoga!
Good luck, have fun and pay attention to the little things as they truly have the greatest impact on your practice over time.

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