Mar
9

Hatha Yoga Series: Standing Poses P. 2

hatha yoga series

In continuation of the hatha yoga series, I give you, standing poses part 2 (see part 1, here): Uttihta Trikonasana, -- affectionately known as "Trikonasana" for short -- or otherwise referred to as Triangle pose, and Ardha Chandrasana (Half-Moon pose). Because they are both such intense hamstring openers and require a good deal of range of motion in your hips, it's a great pose to work up to from Virabhadrasana II and Parsvakonasana. 

Having "open hips" is a topic worth talking about. You may hear it used often in classes or by yogis and aren't sure what exactly they mean, and why people are so darn happy about it. Let's follow the metaphor of them as "open" and say that tight hips are "closed", due to muscle tension, tightness, or injury. Having an openness in your body is great thing -- it means that things are moving, and there is less constriction to prevent circulation of bloodflow and your muscle tissues, bones, organs can recieve the nutrients that they need to stay healthy and keep you mobile! Simply put: health is movement. 

Let's open our hips, friends.

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UTTHITA TRIKONASANA
(TRIANGLE POSE)

  • Begin in adho mukha svanasana, step your right foot forward in between your hands and spin your back foot down on the mat.
  • Straighten your front leg, place your right hand down on the outside edge of your foot and take your top hand to your hip.
  • Press down into your feet -- especially into the ball mound of your front foot.
  • Engage your front quad by lifting your knee cap so you can feel your thigh muscle. Squeeze your legs towards each other to feel the muscles of your legs fire up. 
  • Draw your navel and low ribs in towards your back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and on an inhale stretch your top hand up to the ceiling. 
  • Stretch through the crown of your head, rather than jutting your chin forward to create length in your spine and an elongation in your side body. 
  • Turn your chest up towards the ceiling, and if it feels okay for you, look up at your top hand. 
  • Stay here for 3-5 breaths.

Modification:
Pain is never an option. If you feel discomfort, pulling, or ANY sensation of pain behind your knee or hamstrings then take a block to the outside of your front foot to raise the floor to you.

hatha yoga series

ARDHA CHANDRASANA
(HALF-MOON POSE)

  • From trikonasana, move your hand (or block) about 6 inches out in front of you, take your top hand to your hip to steady yourself, and look down at your standing leg as you lift your back leg up off the floor.
  • Press down into your bottom foot, continue to flex your quad, and draw your thigh bone in and up towards you so that you are not sinking your weight into your hip flexors. 
  • Tone your belly towards your back, draw your ribs in towards you once more and kick out powerfully through your top leg. Flexing your toes towards your nose, as I do in the photo, can help you press out through your heel and activate your glutes and hamstrings, thus giving you MORE power. So... DO IT! 
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and open your chest up towards the celing.
  • If you are not wobbling, stretch your top arm up, and as I said before, if it is comfortable for your neck, look up, reach up, and stretch! 
  • Stay here for 3-5 breaths. 

Modifications:
You can certainly take the block with you in ardha chandrasana to give you more strength and stability. If you feel very unstable then stand with your back up against a wall for extra support. 

Go Deeper...

Put it all together! Follow this sequence to build strength and power:
adho mukha svanasana 3-5 breaths
low lunge to high lunge 3 breaths
virabhadrasana II to parsvakonasana 3-5 breaths
trikonasana to ardha chandrasana 3-5 breaths
low lunge to adho mukha svanasana 1 breath & 3 breaths
supta baddha konasana 5 breaths or more!


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