Pushing along again in our look at a modified half-Primary Ashtanga practice, with a twin set of goals of trying to earn some flexibility and maintain proper alignments: straight back when appropriate, right dristi, etc.
Paschimottanasana, hopefully obviously, is one that cries out for focus on the uncooperative hamstrings. A few tricks:
I definitely have been pulling a strap out for this pose, but not at first. I found over my weeks of this practice that I was best served by first trying to loosen up my lower back and hips. And that meant starting with the knees bent so I could access those areas better.
Step 1: Grab the toes and try to loosen the back up. Hold for as long as you feel. (We’re already so far off the “proper path.”)
Step 2: Grab the outside of the feet (little toe sides) and focus intently on getting those feet “straight.” Hold again as long as ou like.
After that, I get the strap and straighten the knees. This is uncomfortable in any number of places: the knees, the quads, the hamstrings.
I’m not very far bent forward at this point, I’ll admit. And I’m focused on keeping the back straight and not bending my way toward my legs.
You can add a little in here by placing a block beyond your feet and wrapping the strap around it (and your feet by extension). This should recreate Step 2, above, to an extent.
Hold until you can’t take it anymore.
And, Merry Christmas.
Posted by Steve