Let’s use standing head to knee pose as a basis for this discussion:
As you can see, there is some space between the head and the knee.
What do you think should happen during this pose to close the gap between the head and knee?
The Iyengar approach: pull up the patella
My first touch with yoga in this life was through BKS Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” book. It’s a great book… cant say I care for his alleged misogynous acts, but I digress….
Repeatedly in his book Iyengar stresses contracting certain muscles while in a pose. I’m guess this has to do with activating certain muscles, so their opposing muscle groups relax?
But one thing is for certain: pulling up the patella does add to the efforts to stretch out the leg muscle as a whole.
The Bikram paradox: “freeze the posture” … no, go deeper!
Bikram’s second book has a lot of wisdom. One thing he says in the foreword is: “I challenge you. Can you freeze the pose for 30 seconds?” So of course now he have a conundrum. One the one hand, the dialogue is saying things like “as you go deeper and deeper and deeper, ok… back to central position” but on the other hand, during that 30 seconds, I can ignore the dialogue and freeze the pose.
Even in stillness, the muscle opens up
I personally prefer being absolutely still in Bikram poses. Even while doing so, I find that the muscles open up. And even when the muscles open up and I can go deeper, I do not: I freeze the posture until time for the next posture”.
As an aside, between postures in corpse pose, the best way to recover your energy is to not move at all. I know it’s tempting to move around, but I prefer to be absolutely still.
The Sivananda Approach: deeper on the exhale
I’ll never forget my Yoga I class at Sivananda Los Angeles on Beach Ave in Marina del Rey. We were learning paschimottanasana and she put her hands on my lower back and as I inhaled, she did nothing and on the exhale, she pushed me deeper in the posture…. over and over.
So in Sivananda Yoga (and several other styles), you go deeper on the exhale.
My homegrown psychophysical approach based on The Sedona Method
In my experience, I consider each yoga posture to be a psychophysical expression of mentally induced limitation. In other words, as I go into a pose and reach a tight point, I often notice that my muscles are resisting and tightening. And then I follow the inquiry process of The Sedona Method to allow them to relax:
- Could I let this tension go?
- Would you let this tension go? Are you willing to? Would you rather hold on to that tension or would you rather let it go?
I find that it works quite well, because
we are all unlimited beings
we are all unlimited beings, limited only by the concepts of limitation that we hold in our minds. These concepts of limitation are not true; furthermore, because they’re not really true, they can easily be released or discharged.https://www.sedona.com/lester-levenson
What Method do you use to gain Flexibility in Your Yoga Practice?
i’m very curious to know what methods you use to achieve flexibility in your yoga practice. Of course, I’m equating yoga with asanas, which is quite limiting. But that is the focus on this current inquiry.