Sunday, 4 September 2011

Arguments for keeping the feet and knees together in Kapotasana and when dropping back

A couple of weeks ago, in THIS post, I looked at approaching the dropback and Kapotasana with the knees and feet together. This is something Ramaswami had mentioned in relation to Kapotasana back on the TT course and also seemed implied for the drop back in the 'On your feet' sequence in his book The complete book of Vinyasa yoga'.

I tried it, managed it but wondered what the reason might be behind it.

In Ramaswami's Newsletter this month, on Spinal exercise, he writes about performing backbends with the feet, knees and thighs together. He doesn't mention Kapotasana or the dropback back I wonder if the same reasoning applies.

The relevant section is below, the full newsletter can be found HERE and an illustrated version of the Spinal exercise article including the exercises HERE

'For the back bending exercises it is necessary to protect the lumbar
spine. Towards that, the flexibility and the strength of the sacro-
coccygeal region is to be necessarily cultivated. The pelvic push is
efficiently facilitated by a simple but effective asana called
dwipadapeetam (pages109-115) or desk pose . This posture which is
casually practiced with the feet apart and thighs spread out leaves
out the the spine in the pelvic region. Hence it is necessary to keep
the feet together, tighten the gluteal muscles, draw in the rectum and
gently push the tailbone/sacrum up and feel a healthy stretch at the
bottom of the spine. Any back bending done without fully involving the
sacro coccygial region is a less efficient back bend and tends to put
more strain on the lumbar spine. Again my Guru used this posture to
teach to almost anyone. This upward pelvic push is to be done on
inhalation generally but, it can be done while exhaling smoothly by
the elderly, the obese, the pregnant, the highly strung etc. Because
the feet and back of the head are well anchored it becomes easy to
control the back bend very well and one can improve the stretch step
by step. Other poses that are in this group would be catushpada peetam
or Table pose ( page79 ) and Purvatanasana or the anterior stretch
pose (pages78,79). The other back-bends in the prone poses such as
Bhujangasana, dhanurasana and salabhasana (pages 138-145) also may be
done with the thighs and feet together to keep the sacrum and tailbone
engaged and stretchered. To ensure this condition, the teacher may ask
the student to keep the feet and thighs together by placing a piece of
paper between the feet  and not let the paper drop to the floor while
raising the legs up in asana like Salabhasana. In these prone
exercises keeping the legs together enables to exercise all parts of
the spine, especially the oft neglected sacro-coccygeal area.'

from Ramaswami's September 2011 Newsletter

Here's the video once again of my feet together drop back attempt




It's harder, in that you have a less secure base but interesting to explore as your regular Kapo and drop back become more comfortable.

In the same newsletter Ramaswami also writes about the importance of engaging mulabandha when back bending,

'....all will be better if the mula is gripped firmly and engaged.'

See this post for his fishing rod analogy

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