Saturday, 10 December 2011

Day 70 : Urdhva Padmasana (lotus) in Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Supine sequence

As a reminder, Ramaswami recommends we spend five minutes in Sarvangasana (first three minutes with the legs relaxed next two with the legs straight in standard Shoulderstand) before practising the sarvangasana vinyasas

Ramaswami would also recommend a counterpose after sarvangasana so as to relieve the strain placed on the neck and shoulders, he suggests bhujangasana (cobra, Day 45) and especially makrasana (crocodile, Day 44) as ideal counterposes, stating that, 'The counterposes, as a rule, should be simple, effective and targeted' (Yoga beneath the surface p105).


Padmasana (lotus) can be a challenging posture and there are many places to work towards it in Vinyasa Krama.

In Asymmetric Sequence: Padmasana doesn't appear as such but there are several hip opening postures, janusirsasana in particular, that prepare you for ardha baddha padmasana (half lotus).

In Lotus sequence : The lotus sequence picks up where Asymmetric leaves off with more vinyasas in half lotus before moving on to full lotus.

In Seated sequence : Padmasana (lotus) follows the deep hip opening subroutines of upavishta konasana and badha konasana.

In Supine sequence : More half lotus variations, this time in dwipadapitam (table pose). In shoulder stand we have the half lotus vinyasas of Day 68 but also the extreme hip openers of the previous (Day 69 ) Urdhva Konasana subroutine.

In Inverted Sequnece : As with Supine and Seated the lotus vinyasas in headstand follow, konasana and badha konasana subroutine.

In all of the above sequences we can see that padmasana (lotus) follows hip opening postures, this is because padmasana (lotus) is a hip rotation rather than a twisting of the knees.

Don't twist the knees to get into padmasana, rather the knee is relaxed slightly and the femur head rotated in the hip joint allowing the knee to come out to the side like turning the page of a book bringing the foot up toward the opposite thigh. We bring the foot to the opposite groin by rotating the hip joint further and using the hand to guide (guide not pull) the foot into place.

Once one foot is comfortable on the opposing thigh we do the same for the other leg, relaxing the knee slightly, rotating the femur head in the hip joint but here in the inverted postures of shoulder stand and headstand we can allow the first leg to drop back a little to allow the second foot to come up smoothly on to the thigh, guiding the foot deeper into the groin with our hand.

Allowing the first leg to drop back to allow the second foot to come up onto the thigh more easily is something that's only available in the inverted postures. For this reason Supine may, surprisingly, be an easier option for developing padmasana.

Because we want to use one hand to draw the foot deeper into the groin we need to make sure that we are firmly supported in shoulder stand with the other hand. Be sure to have the hand supporting the back rather than the hip. the hand should be close to but not on the spine with the fingers pointing upwards.

You may want to bring the trailing leg further over the head and shoulders in the beginning to stay stable.

Lowering the lotus (pic.3)
Engage the bandhas, draw up the anus and draw the belly in and up to create space to fold your lotus towards your head, try to keep your lotus as close to your chest as possible.

Pindasana (pic.4)
To achieve pindasana you need a nice tight lotus with the knees brought closer towards each other, the thighs almost parallel.  make sure your hips are over or preferably in front of your shoulders so that when you remove your hands you don't roll back down to the mat. Swing your arms around your legs and clasp your hands and ideally bind at the wrist

If your lotus is not tight enough to bind fully you may still be able to hold the thighs while you work towards tightening your lotus and deepening the fold.

The Twists (pictures 5&6)
Assuming your right foot is on your left thigh the first twist bringing the left knee to the right side of the head is less challenging than bringing the right knee to the left side of the head due to the way the legs are folded.

Start with the twist. Twist at the waist to the right on the exhalation, stay for three breaths. then, on the next exhalation, twist a little further to the right while at the same time lowering your left knee towards your right ear. Stay for three breaths.

Pratkriya (pic.7)
The final posture of the subroutine, Sarvangasana padmasana (pic 7) is the Pratkriya (counterpose ), bending the waist backward to counter the forwards bends.

Move the hands to the hips with the fingers facing forward over the hips and the thumbs pointing towards the spine.

In the beginning bring the chest further over your head and then arch back just a little at the waist on the inhalation and then come back to vertical on the exhale, arch the back a little further on each inhalation as you become more confident.

Use the bandhas to keep stability, engage mula bandha strongly by drawing up the anus, draw the belly in and up and engage the chin lock.

Stretching up out of the hips as much as possible in this position by expanding and lifting the chest, push the hips upwards.

To return. point your lotus up on the exhalation, slide your hand back into the regular shoulder stand position with the finger pointing upwards, when vertical allow your hips to open which will bring the knees further away from each other bringing the feet down the thighs and out of the bind.

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