22 Aug a week of supta padangusthasana part 2
In part two of my week of supta padangusthasana recaps, I’m going to focus on balancing the hips in the pose. One of the biggest challenges towards getting your foot closer to your head, and thereby closer to the hand so you can hold the toe, is keeping the hip of the raised leg moving down away from your head and towards the opposite inner ankle. Taking hold of the big toe is easy if you just let your right hip move up towards your right armpit, shortening your right side waist. But this method of moving the foot towards the head doesn’t lengthen the hamstring. Instead, it’s a way for your body to get out of the stretch by taking the hips out of balance.
I wanted to be able to challenge my hamstrings to lengthen so my foot could come closer to my head, but at the same time be sure that my hips were staying even. Double strap traction to the rescue! Practicing supta padangusthasana with a strap around the heel of the lowered leg and the root of the thigh of the raised leg, tightened to insure the balance of the hips, brings many benefits: freedom from back pain, the potential to reset the sacroiliac joint in a non-weight-bearing pose, a way to work with lumbar scoliosis and of course getting longer hamstrings.
Jennifer Elliot has a clear and easy to follow post about how to place the straps for double strap traction in supta padangusthasana. When you put your soon-to-be-raised leg through the loop, make sure the buckle is on the outside of your raised leg hip and that the tail of the loop is heading towards the feet (not the head) and close enough that you can tighten it as you work.
Renowned Iyengar instructor, Elise Browning Miller, also has a nice yoga video that shows another way to place the strap to achieve the same effect.
I’m truly pleased with the progress I’ve been making. Yesterday, in supta padangusthasana, my foot was much closer towards my head than ever, and my low back has been feeling fantastic, even with some increased sitting.
next installment: balancing tapas (fire, discipline) and santosha (contentment) in the pose.