So now that we have mastered the Master Posture (the Triangle) and its “opening” abilities we will proceed to do the opposite and effect a compression posture. It is this opening and then ,compressing that brings the body back into balance. This posture is in fact a mix of the Balancing Stick and Rabbit posture.
Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Posture
This posture looks simple enough – it is a very common posture that I personally used to practice many moons ago with my normal hatha yoga practice – isn’t it? Well, not quite! In the Bikram series there is a “minor” adjustment which is making sure the forehead touches the knee ensuring that the internal organs get the proper compression. In many other forms of yoga this posture is used more as a stretch as the head is allowed to go further down the leg. That is still a great posture but has a different effect on the body.
To start, bring your arms up over the head and keeping your palms together cross the thumbs to keep them in place. As usual, stretch up to the ceiling and keep your elbows locked. The head stays glued in between the arms just like you do in Half Moon and other postures. That is the great thing about Bikram Yoga – the style of the postures is consistent and therefore once you get the hang of it, it all becomes second nature!
This time take a 3 foot step to the right so you end up with a slightly narrower stance than the last two postures. Turning the right foot to the right, you twist the hips a few times as necessary to make sure the hips are “square on” and you are facing the side wall directly. Make sure your heels are in the same line. The back foot should be flat on the floor and turned to a 45 degree angle as this stimulates the kidneys.
Now the arms and head have to go down together so you need to exhale to do that. With the chin tucked right down to the chest this will work on your thyroid and parathyroid glands i.e. your metabolism. Where your eyes go your body goes so as the intention of this posture is to compress your inner organs you need to look up at your stomach and place the forehead on the knee or even higher (if your really game) but definitely not below the knee. Touching the forehead with straight legs can be a challenge for a lot of people so keep your leg straight as you go down and then you can bend the front knee or make a wider stance if necessary to enable that bit of ingenuity! The pressure on the forehead is the main point of this posture and can be achieved even if you have to bend your front knee “big time” to do it so even first timers can get maximum 100% efficiency in the posture. As with all yoga the point of the posture is what it is doing for your body whilst in the posture not the appearance of it even though that will improve as the body gets used to the positions you put it in!
Once you’ve got that forehead to the knee it’s time to start sliding your fingers forward away from the toes so that your elbows lock and the wrists are straight. Then by pushing your hands against the floor you can try and get your knee locked with your “smiling happy face” as Bikram would say! Exhale as you suck your stomach in. Now this does not feel comfortable sometimes as the throat feels like it is choking but your breathing is “normal” meaning you don’t hold the breath. Bring maximum weight on to the front leg and stick that hip up towards the ceiling as you will find this one likes to slip below the other one and you need to have both hips level so you get maximum compression. The last adjustment is to lock the knee a couple of times very quickly before inhaling with full lungs and gently coming back up keeping your arms and head together. Stop in the middle before rinsing and repeating on the other side.
To finish bring your arms down and bring the feet together – ahh bliss!
Summary of the main points:
- Arms and head together with the palms glued together
- Step 3 feet with the right foot
- Keep the heels in the same line
- Back foot should be flat on the floor i.e. even the heel and turned to a 45 degree angle
- Twist your hips about 5 times until they are “square on” the side wall
- Exhale and suck the stomach in
- Place your forehead on the knee even if you have to bend the knee to get it there
- Eyes open look up to the stomach to give greater compression
- Lock your elbows, wrists straight as you slide the baby fingers away from the toes
- Lift your front leg hip up to the ceiling to give the correct compression
- Try and lock the front knee just before the end if not already locked
Summary of main benefits:
- Marriage between the pancreas and kidneys, thyroid and pituitary glands
- Extension of the oblongata and medulla – good for eyesight
- Opening the throat and crown chakras – alleviates depression
- Good for the digestive and endocrine systems, metabolism, body chemistry, immune system.
- Compression of the pancreas, extension of the kidneys.
- Slims and tightens abdomen, waist, hip, buttocks and upper thighs.
- Tones arms when your arms are locked
See you next posture!