poses, sequences

Three poses to do every day for the rest of your life

That’s the title of a handout my wonderful teacher Margaret gave us when she taught a home practice class.  I’m going to dig out some more of the information from that class and start posting it.

The handout had only pictures of the poses and their names.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana II
Utthita hasta Padangusthasana II

Supta Padangusthasana (reclining hand to foot pose; turn the picture counterclockwise so that the person is lying on her back). I really do try to do this, if not every day, then very often.  The two other parts of it involve extending the leg out to the side, and then switching hands so that the up leg is across your body.  I use a strap to hold my foot, and press the down foot against the wall.  Sometimes I do it against a projecting wall in my house.

Baddha Konasana
Baddha Konasana

Baddha Konasana (cobbler’s pose).  I need to sit on at least one blanket for this one.  It’s best to be up high enough that your knees are below your hips.  In tough times (stiff, inflexible times), that sometimes means three or even four blankets under me.  I also like to do it against the wall with a block between my shoulder blades pressed into the wall.  For someone like me who has trouble remaining upright, this feels excellent, and it seems to allow me to focus on pressing my knees down rather than fighting to balance.

Upavista Konasana
Upavista Konasana

Upavistha Konasana (seated wide angle pose).  This is my most difficult pose.  It’s funny, because it’s often part of a restorative class, where you sit in the pose and then lean forward with your head on a bolster.  I can no more do that than fly across the room.  I have occasionally wept in frustration trying to avoid flipping over backwards.  That’s why this is one of my TV poses.  Do I do it every day?  Um, no.

(As a side note, I just found a cool thing called yogafont, and that’s where these pics came from. You’ll see them again.)

See, you could have a short practice with these poses plus (always) Savasana.  You can stay in these for a while, or do one or two minutes each.


Uttanasana (forward bend) forward movement

Yesterday in class we did something just great.  We were doing Supta Padangusthasana (reclining hand to foot pose, see picture and rotate it counterclockwise so the person is lying on her back) with partners.  I, of course, was using a strap to hold my foot because the likelihood that I will ever touch my foot with a straight leg is infinitesimally small.

The down foot was pressed against the wall.  My partner (and everyone’s, but I’m going to make this just about me) was sitting against the wall beside my down foot and holding a strap that was wrapped around my up leg right at the hip.  It didn’t take much, but it was enough to pull my thigh out of my hip just a bit.

It was a great practice.  The pose felt wonderful.  But the extra great part for me was afterwards.  My hips are routinely so stiff that I just about never even come close to touching my feet in a forward bend.  After we did this partner practice, I just dropped forward and touched the floor!

Those of you who are flexible may never appreciate how wonderful this is for a person like me, with a lifetime of stiffness.  (In high school we had to pass some basic skill tests in PE, including flexibility tests.  If you didn’t pass, you had to go to a remedial class, which at my school was called Spaz Class.  I was in Spaz Class every semester.)


nuts and bolts

Home props

With a little imagination, you can find props all over your house. The obvious ones are blankets, pillows, and towels. I have several Tae Kwon Do belts inherited from my son that make excellent straps. But it’s also good to look at the architectural details of your house and at your furniture to see what you can use.

Here’s a setup for supported Ustrasana, made out of yoga blankets and bolster on two round stacking stools.

Setup for supported Ustrasana (camel pose)

Our coffee table works well for supported Chatush Padasana. Mary Obendorfer taught me this setup for my disk-degenerated neck, and I believe it is also in Iyengar Yoga Asana Alternatives: Neck and Shoulders, by Lois Steinberg.

Chatush Padasana on the coffee table

Here I’m using the wall between our family room and the hallway to do supported Supta Padangusthasana. (Note the yoga ropes – I did have to buy those and pay some guys to make that bit of wall.)

Supported Supta Padangusthasana on the wall

I’d be interested to know what anyone else has found to use around the house.