Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Padahastasana

PadaHastasana is one of the twelve postures that Swami Sivananda considered to be the most important for complete health of the body and mind.  Known as the hands to feet or standing forward bend, I think it looks simpler than it is.  Often I see mistakes in this posture; that there is tension held in the neck and shoulders, the knees are bent and weight kept back on the heels and the back is rounding.  I had one practitioner recently approach me regarding this posture saying she found it so difficult.  And I agree it can be difficult, but if we approach it with the right intention and try to relax within the posture then it will become easier and we can start to enjoy it.  For me I love the release I feel in my upper back when I’m in padahastasana, and to feel the energy flowing downwards brings invigoration. 
Every posture has its benefits both physically, mentally and spiritually and all postures should be performed slowly with deep breath, using the breath properly during your practice will enable you to relax more and hold the posture steadily which in turn will enable you to hold it longer therefore receiving more of the benefits of the pose.  Using the breath correctly will also replenish all the oxygen that is being used from the muscles preventing the build up of lactic acid which is caused when the muscles are overworked and the oxygen is not being replaced, this is a common problem whilst playing sport.  This build up of lactic acid causes fatigue and is difficult for the body to expel, so always remember to use your breath and to relax between postures, or after a heavy game of sport lye down in our relaxation pose; savasana, and breath deep abdominal breath.  Our body is our vehicle for our soul so we should take great care of it, it is a blessing to have it and the practice of yoga will bring great health and vigour to not only your body but also to your mind giving a greater sense of balance and harmony, greater ability to concentrate and focus and generally a better sense of well being. 
Infact the yoga system can be compared to no other in the sense that it completely rehauls the entire being, both externally and internally, where all the internal organs, glands and hormones are receiving stimulation and will begin to work more efficiently also balancing our emotions.  We focus greatly on the health of the spine; we are as young as we are flexible right?  The spinal column houses the spinal cord, the telegraph system of the body, and the main nerve of the body so it is vital we take care of it.  By maintaining the spine’s flexibility and strength the circulation is increased and the nerves are ensured their correct supply of nutrients and oxygen, leaving you feeling refreshed.  So there is every reason to practice yoga and the more you practice the better you will start to feel. 
So here is how to do the padahastasana
1.Stand in mountain pose with the feet together pushing down into the mat.  Spread your toes to ground yourself, the spine is up straight, shoulders back and down.
2.Inhale and raise the arms up over your head, next to your ears, palms face front.
3.Exhale slowly as you stretch the body forward, bending from your hips, try to keep the spine and knees as straight as you can.
4.Don’t worry about how far you are coming down but try to keep the alignment of the pose and breath; you are still receiving all benefits of the posture regardless of flexibility.
5.Hold onto the backs of the legs without just letting the arms hang and relax your neck completely.
6.Bring the weight slightly forward on the feet and feel the hips pushing upward toward the sky.
7.Breathe deeply and remain in the posture for as long as it is comfortable.
8.Inhale until you have come up to the original position.

Physical benefits of the posture:
1.The spine becomes supple and is lengthened, joints are mobilised and everlasting youth is obtained.
2.The whole nervous system is invigorated
3.The hamstrings and other muscles in the back of the legs and lower body are stretched.
4.A complete stretch to the posterior of the body is given
5.There is an increase of blood supply to the brain, increasing memory and intellectual capacity.
6.Excess fat around the abdomen will be reduced.
7.Bad posture will start to be corrected and any shortening of the legs due to fracture will be corrected.

Mental benefits of the posture:
1.The body becomes light thus reducing feelings of inertia and laziness
2.The sushumna nadi, the most important of the astral nerves that runs through the centre of your spine is purified.
3.The energy is helped downwards bringing balance.

So roll out your mat and practice your padahastasana!
See you all on the mat
Om Lokha Somasta Sukhino bhavantu
May all living entities find balance, harmony and peace
Om shanti
Mangala/nicky

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