Ok yogi’s it’s time to lift off!!
For the past two weeks we have laid a clear foundation for viparita karani mudra (VKM, half shoulderstand). This week, on that firm ground, we will add a challenging inversion. Unique to this inversion is the extension of spine and shoulders we are asked to maintain while flexing the hips. If we are not mindful of our ascent, we can very quickly lose the ground gained.
The challenge to stay mindful this week reminds me of a verse from the Bhagavad Gita:
Indeed, when the mind
is being pulled
by the roaming senses,
Then just one of them
can carry away one’s
We have spent the past two weeks [LINK] ensuring that our foundation is strong, and yet when we attempt lift off for the first time, the drive of the ego to “get up” into the full shape will nonetheless likely trump all conscious structure you have built for yourself.
Therefore, this week we ask: “How can we keep ourselves from being pulled adrift by the ego? How can we stay present for the lift off that allows us to find our best version in this moment?”
Below are more lessons from the road that might help.
Get into symmetrical poses symmetrically!
This is another great lesson from the great Alison West.
In poses where both sides of the body are doing the same thing at the same time (i.e., symmetrical poses), make sure you perform the action in both sides at the same time.
Try this example of working with symmetrical actions
- Start on your hands and knees.
- Very slowly, sit on your heels while AT THE SAME TIME reaching your hands to the floor behind you, fingers facing the back of the room. **If sitting on your heels is not comfortable, prop the sit bones and add props behind you so that the hands can land comfortably on a sturdy surface.
- Open the chest to the ceiling and take a deep breath in.
- Exhale the navel to the spine and sit back on your heels.
- Repeat 6 times, holding the last opening for 6 breaths.
- Notice which hand wants to come to the floor first and/or lift off the floor first. Stay present as you attempt to lift simultaneously in each direction.
Next, you can try the same reps and breaths above with a baby version of VKM:
- Lie on the floor in the prep for bridge pose.
- Place a block on the lowest height under the pelvis.
- Lift both heels at the same time and draw the knees toward the chest
- Extend both feet up to the sky at the same time
- Come down the way you came up.
- Repeat as above, then hold the pose.
- If this can be done with ease, try it with two stacked blocks.
- If that can be done with ease, try it without blocks: support the pelvis on extended wrists (palms on your butt), so that a straight line is formed from the elbows to the wrists through the balls of the feet
Take a lil’ help from your friends! Or props as it were 😉
VKM in its fullest form can be a very intense shape. Understanding that there are many, many steps between not knowing how to do a pose and doing the full version is a key principle for us at 216. Props can provide the necessary support to make sure we are keeping safe while still moving our practice forward.
Try this example of using props in VKM
- Sit facing a wall. Tuck the toes at the base of the wall and scoot your hips into the wall until the knee are stacked over the ankles.
- Lie down. Press the triceps into the floor to lift and open the chest, absorbing the spine.
- Lift the hips into bridge pose and place a block on its lowest height under the pelvis.
- Step the right foot, then the left foot onto the wall.
- Stay there or try to draw both knees (at the same time) toward the chest, then extend both heels (at the same time) up toward the ceiling.
- Bring the feet back down to the floor and repeat with the left foot stepping onto the wall first.
- If that can be done with ease, try stepping the feet to the wall at the same time.
- Next, you might try adding a second block under the pelvis, and then go back to placing the feet on the wall one at a time.
- From there, you can work your way up to both feet lifting at the same time from a two-block support (the wall is always there as a secondary support).
What other ways can you come up with to explore symmetry and support for this shape? Share your play and tag ‘em #216infrastructure!
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