Sunday, 17 October 2010

Core vinyasa krama asana : Five minute Paschimatanasana

' Yoga texts recommend vaseth, which means one should stay in this posture for for a long time. Even a stay of five minutes has a tonic effect on the posterior muscles, the abdominal muscles and the pelvic organs, because of the rectal and abdominal locks'.
Srivatsa Ramaswami Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga p 75

I've struggled with Paschimatanasana, it's only in the last few months that I've begun to feel comfortable in the posture. Whether that's because of the five to ten minute stays in the pose that Ramaswami recommends or the the lifting out of the pelvis in the Tadasana sequence I'm not sure, but something has certainly changed for the better. I searched my files for any old pictures of early or even recent attempts at the posture but couldn't find anything. I eventually found an early video of a jump back, taken on my phone, which included the posture, this is from Oct 08 about 18 months into my Ashtanga practice.

And here's a full five minute Paschimatanasana from last week. This really is the yogic equivalent of watching paint dry, if you thought the ten minute headstand posted a couple of days ago was dull then prepare yourself. And yet there is stuff going on, this from Ramaswami's Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga

' You may stay in the vinyasa of paschimatanasana for a long time with short inhalations {three to five seconds), but very long exhalations (five to ten seconds). After you complete every exhalation you may do both the abdominal and rectal locks. During every inhalation relax your grip, but on every exhalation stretch forward and lower your trunk down slightly.' p75

I came across a nice tip from Dharma Mittra (I think it's on one of his videos) once your settled in Paschimmatanasana rather than trying to force your legs ever flatter, shuffle your sit bones back instead (:30 seconds in on the video above), I still tend to do this. Oh and CK mentioned recently in a comment, that engaging mula bandha helps protect the hamstrings, I'd never noticed but I think she's right.

In Vinyasa krama, we have of course several vinyasas of Paschimatanasana.

'According to my guru (Krishnamacharya)', writes Ramaswami, 'the main pose in this sequence, which is the posterior stretching pose (paschimatanasana) will not provide the intended benefits if it is attempted merely from a seated position without the movements facilitated by vinyasa krama'. p 71

The full Seated sequence, chapter three in Ramaswami's book, can be found here, many of the postures in this sequence also come up in Ashtnga Primary series, Paschimatanasana , of course, but also Kurmasana, Purvottanasana, Upavishta konasana, Navasana, Badha konasana and padmasana

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