Sunday, November 15, 2015

Unusual core and splits

We have more interesting 'move from your core' work in this sequence that also leads to splits in another orientation to gravity.  

Remember, you don't have to do the splits--try not to 'aim' for that.  Try your best but don't be attached to an outcome.  Most people will not be able to do the splits and what you might do is bring knee to chest as shown on the left.

You do what feels possible and comfortable for you without straining.  Feel challenged but without mental or physical tension.

I have made two video versions of the sequence.  One to show what you could do for splits variation. The other to show for knee to chest variation.  

You will get a feel for what is possible for you.  

I come into these postures actively.  That means I bring my leg towards my chest without using the hands.  This will require good balance and core stability, as well as good hip mobility.  

Take a look at the videos so you can see the movement in action.  Then take a look at how I deconstruct the postures in the pictures.

Video: Splits Variation

Video: Knee to Chest Variation

Key Actions
Below are some step by step instructions.  Remember do not do anything that hurts.  Be mindful of your knees.  To get into the posture there are some tricky hip movements and whenever you are working with hips you need to be cautious of knees.  

Move slowly so there is no strain.  If you feel strain then go back to the previous position you were in. 

In this lunge bring your hand towards the ground but do not 'dump' the weight into the hand.  Support yourself with your legs.  The hand is more there for a bit of balance if you need but you should feel you could take your hand off the ground.

Turn feet 
Both feet turn the same way.  Turn the back foot 90 degrees and onto its side.  Keep your ankle away from the floor.

The front foot turns as well but that is not where the movement comes from.  I actually think about rolling my thigh out rather than moving the foot.   I lift the ball of that front foot and as I roll the thigh out the knee will move out to the side and allow your foot to move with you.  Move slowly and carefully.  If this is not comfortable go back to the lunge and remain there for a while until the side lying part comes up.

Be on the outer edge of the front foot as well.  Keep the ankle away from the ground.

In this position stay lifted out of the arm on the ground.  You could take it away.  To do this you need to ensure you are pushing your front heel down and away from you and firm in your other leg.

Lower hip to floor
Mindfully lower the hip towards the ground.  Go slowly.  No strain.  If in any discomfort go back to the previous position.

Stay lifted out of the arm as though you are pushing that hand down and away from the side of the body and so the chest feels as though it is moving away from the ground.

Lie on your side
This bit gets fun.  Take your arm under the side of your body.  Find a position where it is comfortable.   Feel as though you are pressing that arm into the ground.

Keep your legs and feet firm.

If possible take the top arm to the top side, as shown below.
Try to be in a straight line.  Hips and shoulders stacked on top of one another.  There will be a tendency to drop one hip or shoulder back.

Knee to chest

Carefully bring knee to chest.  Be mindful that you do not drop a hip or shoulder back to come into this position.  Feel your tummy muscles working for this.  As I prepare to come into the position I feel as though I am pushing the sitting bone of that top leg forward.

You can hold there or see if you can straighten the leg, as shown below.
If you straighten the leg, keep the foot and leg away from the floor.  See my foot is not on the ground. 

You can then use your hand to come into an assisted posture.  

Graceful exit
If you are in a good split you can come out of the posture by rolling tummy to ground.

Then coming up into a split.

If you are with knee to chest or if your split is not 'split' enough then hug knee to chest.   Be firm behind the knee (as though you are gripping a rolled up towel or something behind there).

If your knees are ok then carefully roll tummy towards the ground so shin is on the ground.   Be mindful.  If you are lolling around a bit like a beached whale then rethink your exit strategy!  We want graceful exit so your exit might be to come back into a lunge (not pictured).

Then come up like an elegant swan!

In this posture I still want to feel like I am lifting away from the ground.  I press my front foot down into the floor.  I am also using my back foot to press down into the floor.  I feel as though I am drawing the back knee towards my chest so that I am not sinking into it.

You will know if you have got good lift as it will be easy to take the arms up.

Have fun.  Be safe.  Feel like you are doing something but not straining.  Try your best but do not be attached to an outcome.  Move slowly.  Tense less, stretch less, breathe less, and think less.  Smile.  

We will be working with this as part of our sequence for the next 5 weeks.  Join us for outdoor classes, rain, wind or (we hope) sun!

Much metta,

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