Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Padahasthasan - what we learn on the way down!

Now the weather is getting a little pre-monsoon here in Kathmandu, the humidity is rising and feelings of a little sluggishness may be creeping in.  Padahasthasan is one posture that can help to revitalise and invigorate yourself; bringing relief to those lethargic feelings.  Using the pull of gravity this pose quickly lengthens the muscles and ligaments of the entire posterior of the body and releases any stiffness in the legs from sitting on chairs and in front of computers for too long!  There is a great stimulation to the spine and activates the sense of balance, turning ourselves upside down like this in a gentle way also provides an extra supply of blood directly to the brain and this in turn brings relief then to the sluggishness, sleepiness, inertia, forgetfulness and depression.  On a physical level, it lengthens the muscles in the back, hips and legs, trims the waist when accompanied by the proper diet, and relieves constipation.  It is said in the scriptures that the practice of this pose will bring eternal youth and develop good posture.  So let us lighten ourselves by the practice of padahasthasan and look at the world from a different point of view.
  1. Stand upright with the big toes connecting, feeling the weight of the body evenly balanced over the balls, sides and heels of the feet.  Feel a connection toward the earth through the souls of the feet, the lower body working downward as the upper body lifts upward.
  2. Inhale and raise the arms up alongside your ears, reaching high.
  3. Exhale and begin to fold from the hips so you make a horizontal line as you are coming down, keeping the knees straight.
  4. Continue exhaling and fold as far down as you can and hold on to the back of your legs, either the ankles or the calves, don’t let the arms just hang, hold on somewhere to the back of the legs.
  5. Hold for some time with deep rhythmical breathing.
  6. To come out of the pose gentle roll up through the spine the head being the last thing to come up.
  7. Alternative hand positions – you can take the arms behind the legs and then hold onto your elbows pushing the arms further down the legs.  Or if you can hold your toes you can slide the palms of the hands under your feet.
  8. Common mistakes are to round the upper spine as you are coming down, to bend the knees, keeping the feet apart and letting the arms just hang, so be aware of those and don’t worry about how far you are folding but try to keep the alignment of the pose, the muscles and tendons will lengthen in time.

So let us refresh ourselves with padahasthasan and feel longer and younger, I’m going for my mat right now!  But its not about whether we can touch our toes or not, but what we learn on the way down.  Taking the time to work with our bodies and feel how they work, to understand our internal selves.  Yes sometimes postures are uncomfortable at the beginning but so is life right, what we learn on the mat we should be able to apply into our daily lives, to get into some of these yoga postures takes time and patience and a lot of acceptance, and once you can do that then everything else in life becomes easy!!
Enjoy your Padahasthasana Happy Summer everyone,
Om Lokha Somastha Sukhino Bavantu
May we all be happy and balanced and in harmony
Mangala / Nicky

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