Friday, November 20, 2009

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana

"Never let your practice today interfere with your practice tomorrow." -- Rodney Yee

Striving is not what yoga is about. It's the opposite, actually. Aparigraha or non-grasping is the sense of letting go control. We get it in our minds that we need to be able to do the "cool" poses, and if we're really dedicated, work hard, we'll get into that twisted, upside down, one hand in the air while are feet are rapped around our head-pose. Or maybe you just want to do Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog) without feeling like you'd rather be in Balasana (child's pose).

I'm guilty. Guilty of wanting a pose (OK, several poses). It started this summer, wanting to do Myurasana (peacock). Then, watching Jules work on her handstand without the use of the wall, I thought, 'I can I do that'!

The purpose of yoga is a vehicle for meditation. Yoga also embodies consistent practice and ahimsa (not harming ourselves). And the only way to learn a new pattern in the body and mind is to practice-- constantly. It's when we go too far in practice - wanting to accelerate through the learning process, that we risk injury or come out of practice with a feeling of discouragement or frustration rather than refreshed and at peace.

Inversions are meant to make us feel a lightness and see things from a different perspective. Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (downward-facing tree or handstand) creates length in the body and strength in the abdominal, erector spine, shoulders, arms and wrists with hands rooting in the ground.

Stand facing 2-4 feet from the wall. Exhale and fold forward, placing hands on the floor, shoulder width apart. Straighten arms, look forward, and kick up one foot at a time to the wall. Squeeze through inner thighs and hold for at least 5-20 smooth breaths. Experiment over time, with moving one foot, then the other away from the wall. To come down, slowly and with control, remove one foot at a time to lower to the floor. If someone assists you to bring one leg up at a time to the wall have them stand to the side of the leg you're kicking up first. Avoid: arching the lower back, bending elbows, and letting the belly hang.

In joy and non-striving,

Mel



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