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Balancing the Forearms, Wrists, and Hands in Dog Pose

A starting point for combining Western science with yoga lies in the term Ha/Tha. This Sanskrit word means Sun/Moon or Yin/Yang and implies a balancing of energies or forces. Balance creates stillness. Apply this concept in your yoga practice by examining the various forces operating around a given joint in a pose, for example, the feet and ankles in Downward Facing Dog. You can also use it to correct hyperextending knees and elbows.

So, look at the elements that contribute energy or force throughout the body—including gravity and muscular effort—and the transmission of those forces from the muscle-tendon unit to the bones. Focus on those you can consciously affect—contracting and lengthening skeletal muscles, for example. In general, once you have the form of a pose, you want to minimize the muscular effort required to be in the asana and maximize the use of the inherent strength of the bones by aligning them. For an example of this, look at  how to use the big toes to align the bones of the legs in Uttanasana.

What about poses where a particular movement predominates, for example, in Urdhva Dhanurasana where the hip joints are more extended than flexed? Consider a recipe for food. You wouldn’t necessarily use equal portions of salt and pepper to create the final taste. In Urdhva Dhanurasana, contraction of the hip extensors predominates while the hip flexors lengthen. Balance in a pose such as this is the right amount of engagement combined with the right amount of release. All of this produces a motor and sensory imprint on the brain and establishes the mind—body “connection” of yoga.

Now, let’s look at how to use this principle for the forearms, wrists, and hands.
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