For this weeks post I'm introducing a new section called: 'The Asana Kitchen'. In it I'll explore the intricacies and problems related to asana and the physical practice. In order to make it more useful to you, I'd like to hear from you, write me or send me a video of a posture or a related aspect of practice that you would like some insight into. Recently I received this question: "I would like to be able to do that straight-leg jump to standing in Namaskara A and B, as shown but not really taught by John Scott in his video. You know how you and John Scott can finish the last part of the Namaskara by jumping to standing -with straight legs? I want to learn that. Do you have any advice or vid clip training?
Mahalo plenty as ever for everything,
See the video and look at the review notes below for my answer. Enjoy! David
Written notes for 'floating and getting the classic ashtanga yoga flow look and feel in your practice.
1) Intensive regular practice is essential to building the type of strength necessary to 'float'. Really use the video exercises presented in this post. You may have to practice the rocking exercise over a period of months to gain the necessary strength to see results. Keep contemplating the concepts that the exercises are based on; concepts such as lifting up the belly to create a distinct uddhyana bandha action, and the role of rhythm and breath in creating flow.
2) While setting up your jump from down dog orient on stretching back (away from the direction you are going to jump) and orient on the out Breath. As you lengthen back and crouch, study the movement of the diaphragm and the connectedness between diaphragm and the accessory muscles involved in exhaling. These accessory muscles reach down into the legs, pass through your center deep within the pelvis, travel along the front of the spine, and up into the upper torso. When you crouch can you feel this network of muscles as web like, integrated, guiding your exhalation and preparing your body for dynamic action? Each breath can potentially bring tone to and activate your core muscles. Once activated these foundational muscles enable you create slow motion flow during practice.
Additionally, during the set up activate the upper body in opposition to the direction and action of the belly and hips. The hands press down into the earth and forward away from you. The arms lengthen and tone in order to make ready to bear your weight.
3) When you work with ujjayi during inhalation by narrowing the glottis, you create resistance to the in flow of breath. This resistance causes the breath to lengthen, become smooth, and to flow evenly. These are exactly the qualities you want to cultivate in your leap from down dog to standing. as you spring forward inhale and 'float' your legs and feet under you by creating just enough muscular resistance through the arms.
4) When you approach the landing, The ability to 'float' is enhanced by sensing the arrangement of your bones. Use your mental power to kinesthetically orient your self within and feel the support of your skeleton. From the set up in down dog through the feather light landing with straight legs, sense that the skeleton has it's own unique rhythm. Cultivate movement that flows from your skeletal rhythm, movement that enables your bones to better support your posture.
5) Don't underestimate the power of imagery for helping you to achieve physical results; experiment with the idea: 'if you can picture it clearly you can do it'.