Friday, March 12, 2010

Week 5 - Jenny

Wow. That was different than last week. Oh my ab work. I feel good. Ujayii breath in Corpse Pose (Savasana) is rather calming and sort of pulls everything together. I feel aligned through my breath.

Okay, so these abs. Hmm. Difficult to say the least. Upward Extended Feet Pose (Urdhva Prasarita Padasana), where you lay on the floor with your arms over your head, raising the legs 30 degrees and holding for 15-20 seconds, then again at 60 degrees, then raise the legs to perpendicular (with a sigh of major relief) for 30-60 seconds before lowering them slowly to the floor, is way hard to do. Now, in the workout field, abdominal work, more than anything else, has probably seen the most flux in the past 20 or 30 years, right? There's something new every day. Pilates is big now - I am an avid studier of good Pilates (like yoga, you better have the right teacher). So my concern with this exercise is that the thigh muscles are used to do much of this work. That doesn't mean that the back and abs (the core) aren't working, it just means they're not isolated and also that the thighs and hip flexors are being overworked. The more you work the thighs and hip flexors, the less you work the core. Now, this can be overcome somewhat by conscious work. But if the practitioner has a shortened low back, then the thighs will be used to do most of the work. A slight bend in the knees will take care of much of this. You won't use your thighs as much if the knees are bent. You will need to engage the core to do the work. And the practitioner's low back with lengthen through this exercise as well as yoga poses like Plow (Halasana).

I can't sit here and negate any of this ancient practice, though. Can I? Full Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana) and Half Boat Pose (Ardha Navasana), on the other hand, if done properly, will most definitely work the core. Again, care must be taken not to overuse the thighs. Again, a slight bend in the knees will suffice. Eventually the practitioner will be able to straighten the legs without overusing the thighs.

So I was a gymnast for 16 years. As part of our conditioning, we held a "hollow body" position that is quite similar to Half Boat Pose. And I can tell you that you can get away with tightening the thighs and hip flexors to hold this position. You don't have to engage the core much at all. So care must be taken to engage the core and release the thigh muscles. Again, a slight bend in the knees as the practitioner learns to engage properly will suffice.

And the rest of the sequence was, sort of, delicious. Lots of opening through the sides of the body. I feel like my rib cage grew three sizes this day. I've got to think Ujayii at the end has something to do with that feeling. Wow. I feel super. I mean, like I AM super. I feel like I should run to my closet and pull out one of many superhero costumes to get ready for my day. Okay, then. I guess I will. To the closet!

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