If you have ever attended a Bikram class you will be aware that every posture comes with a full set of “instructions” in order to place the parts of the body in the optimal position. No less with the Awkward Pose!
When doing this pose you will probably feel what it is doing to the legs but be aware it is also working big time on the arms, spine and the heart and a lot of internal areas as is normal for any posture. By the way it works a treat on breaking down cellulite and toning up those thighs like nothing else does! So I will include a few of the details that help you get the best out of this posture.
Firstly the feet should be 6 inches apart with the feet going straight out in front of you – like a perfect letter “H”. If you have the feet in a slight “V” shape (five to one on a clock face) you have already changed the dynamics of the posture. You shouldn’t even be able to see the heels in the mirror – glue your feet to the floor at this stage!
Bringing the arms up will obviously be working on the heart and it is important to really stretch the arms out right to the fingertips as if you are trying to touch the mirror. This will also ensure you are strong in the posture, great for your balance and tones the arms up like billy-oh too. “Nothing loose, nothing hanging” – as it says in the dialogue!
Exhale the breath as you need now to suck the stomach in and hold it in. This area of the body will also give you a lot of strength when pulled in and it also has a positive effect on your organs and even your emotions – if you just let your stomach flop the posture will feel harder to achieve, you’ll just be hanging in there and wasting effort.
Now it is time to sit down until the “hips touch the chair”, spine as straight as possible and with the maximum weight on the heels. This will assist with straightening the spine ( just like in Half Moon). The focus should be on pushing the spine backwards. Remember to keep pulling in that stomach until you can see your rib cage in the mirror.
By this time those pesky knees may have tried to find each other and meet up somewhere in the middle so its time to check that and ensure there is still six inches between them, also the toes (no “V” happening!), heels and even your hands. Chest up, chin up – so you can breathe and you will feel stronger. All the time you are trying to lean back to the back wall – almost trying to fall down backwards!
Inhale breathing and come up.
Keep your arms where they are.
I make sure my eyes are focussed throughout this posture as I find it really increases my strength and stamina but in this part of the posture it is imperative and hence it is in the dialogue. “Concentrate and meditate”.
Stand up on the toes as high as you can, making sure you have your concentration and focus on one spot in the mirror. Now stretch everything up to ceiling – your spine, chest and head, upper body before slowly sitting down but this time with the weight on top of the toes with the spine straight. Throughout this part it should feel like your hips and back of the head are touching the wall – “Bikram speak” for “straight”!
This time though, you sit down halfway until the hips touch the chair but not too low. Then it is time to lift the knees up, lift the chest (gives you a lot more strength), lean back to straighten the spine again. Come up higher on the toes (i.e. lift the heels up more) and continually lift the knees. Make sure that the hips have not sunk too low – they must stay at the height of the imaginary chair and not be lower than the knees.
Inhale as you come out, keeping your arms in the same position, flattening the feet for a second or two – phew!
This time you come up a little bit on the toes and now you can do what you have probably wanted to do all along and bring the knees together! Squeezing those knees together will tone up those inner thighs as an added bonus. Exhale as you suck the stomach in and keep your spine straight as you go down as slow as possible, taking at least 10 counts – ( I know – tell me about it! ) – all the time as if you are leaning against a wall.
Continually stretch your spine to the ceiling until you have 1/2 inch between the hips and heels. At this point take care not the sink on to the heels, you do this by keeping your knees together and pointing them slightly down towards the mirror. By this time your arms, and legs will be parallel to the floor and the spine straight in a 90 degree angle, as if you are like a three sided box.
To come up in control take a deep breath and keeping the knees glued together come up with your spine straight trying not to lean forward. Always move slowly – there is power in slow movement.
On the second set if you have good knees you can do the famous Bikram motorbike riding to make sure you have control – but do NOT do this if you do not have strong knees – always take care of the knees!
As usual, ensure your shoulders are relaxed throughout the posture – there is no need to create tension where you do not need it!
Summary of the main practice points:
- Keep the feet glued to floor once they are there and make sure they stay like an “H” – not “V’
- Keep your focus by gazing at one spot in the mirror
- Suck the stomach in
- Try to touch the fingertips to the mirror – i.e. straight arms – nothing loose, nothing hanging, contract the arm muscles
- Open the chest to gain more strength and stamina
- Try to straighten up the spine as much as possible
- Do not let the hips sink down lower than the knees
- Keep the correct position of the knees depending on which part of the posture you are in
With every posture there are benefits on many levels – the main ones for Awkward Pose are:
- Stimulates the internal organs for correct functioning
- Tones and strengthens the arms
- Tones and strengthens the legs
- Works on the heart
- Assists with straightening out the toes
- Breaks down cellulite – bonus!
- Great for your abdominal muscles
- Gives lovely muscle definition on the thighs
- Strengthens and aligns the spine