a week of supta padangusthasana part 3

a week of supta padangusthasana part 3

Time for the wrap-up on our Supta Padangusthasana posts. In earlier posts, I discussed keeping the femur bone of the lowered leg in the socket and grounded on the floor and using straps to maintain balance in the hips thereby tractioning the lower back. With part three, let’s look at a less anatomically-oriented element of the pose. Let’s apply the niyamas (5 principles governing the organs of perception) of tapas and santosha to the work.

BKS Iyengar in Supta Padangusthasana from Light on Yoga

BKS Iyengar in Supta Padangusthasana from Light on Yoga

The push and pull of tapas (fire, drive, discipline) and santosha (contentment with what is) is, in some ways, the dynamic heart of an asana practice.  A sincere practice encaptures both: the understanding of what we are combined with the aspiration for what we can be. Tapas is the fire that stokes our practice, the heat that transforms, but this fire serves us best when tempered with finding contentment with where we are in our practice at any given moment. Santosha keeps us grounded in the now that exists. Then, tapas keeps us from turning contentment into complacency, bringing aspiration for transformation into our practice.

What I loved about practicing supta padangusthasana in a variety of ways is the opportunity it gave me to work with tapas and santosha. Noticing the space between the back of my lowered leg thigh and the floor and being content with where I am with Supta Padangusthasana gave me the chance to practice santosha. Using the strap to keep my hips balanced gave me the grounding necessary to be able to work with the edge of my hamstring’s length with feeling and determination but not pushing past it with force (see my earlier post on working with feeling rather than force). Working with feeling helped me to be content with where my leg is at the moment while still aspiring for greater opening.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress as I continue to work towards holding my toe.  Photos to come…

Letitia Walker
letitia@liveyoganow.com
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