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Yoga Poses to Build A Flexible & Stable Foundation

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CosmoMuse yogini, Brooke Musat, brings us some important foundation building poses as we enter into the new year. Let’s build on our flexibility and stability as we improve our yoga practice in 2017. Photography by Ann Whittaker

It’s Capricorn season, and it begins with a nod to longer days and shorter nights. It may be hard to remember what a full 15 hours of daylight felt like, or how peaks now covered in snow and ice once basked bare in the direct light of a summer’s sun, but with Capricorn season, we are reminded it’s time to dust off our inspirations and aspirations, and seize the longer days. We aren’t saying you should trade in your thermal for a t-shirt just yet, or make the leap to transition your subie’s ski rack to a bike rack, but rather, are encouraging you to begin to prepare for what you hope to pull off in 2017.

If parts of 2016 were disappointing, maybe it’s because you had great ideas, but you rushed into them too quickly. The early bird may catch the worm, but only if the bird has trained in the art of worm catching. Every goal is worth striving toward, but it’s easier to realize your goals when you prepare for them properly.
Whether you are preparing to hike Mt Everest or you’re trying to tackle Handstand, you need to first build a proper foundation. For the climber, a proper foundation may look like several dozen hikes over long distances, or an intimate relationship with weather prediction. For the yogi, a need to strengthen the core in boat pose, or becoming comfortable with being upside down in dolphin, could be the necessary requisites for an appropriate Handstand foundation. Both the climber and the yogi have to start small, but remain focused on their goal. Any one of these steps when looked at separately may not seem all that grand, but when you layer them overtime they create a reliable structure for success.
In the spirit of building a proper foundation, try practicing Extended Side Angle and Triangle Pose back to back. In Extended Side Angle Pose you’ll increase flexibility in the inner thighs while strengthening the side body. Then as you transition to Triangle, you’ll be able to deepen the stretch in the inner thighs and focus on finding stability from the engagement of the entire core, not just the side body. Extended Side Angle and Triangle Pose build on one another nicely, but also help lay the framework for more advanced standing balancing postures.
2017 is right around the corner, and the time is perfect for preparing how you’ll make this your best year yet!

Extended Side Angle :: (Utthita Parsvakonasana) Variation

BENEFITS

o Strengthens quads, upper back, side body, and the tiny muscles in the feet

o Stretches the inner thighs and hamstrings

o Opens chest and shoulders

o Lengthens spine

Prop Suggestion: Try holding the tall side of a block between both hands firmly to build strength in the arms. Still squeezing the block between both hands, you could try reaching both arms toward the front of your mat and holding for 5-7 breathes.

Triangle :: (Trikonasana) Variation

BENEFITS

o Strengthens the entire core and legs

o Stretches inner thighs, hamstrings, and hips

o Lengthens spine

o Extreme opener for the shoulders, heart and chest when practiced as variation shown

Prop Suggestion: In traditional Triangle Pose if your bottom arm does not reach the ground, try placing a block directly below your hand and in line with your shoulder. The block can be any height you need. Push your bottom hand firmly into the block, and elongate your top hand (and arm) toward the sky.

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