general blather

Go upside down!

I recently saw a graphic of a physical therapy technique called postural drainage that could be used on COVID-19 patients. It apparently used to be used often before ventilators became widely used. I don’t have enough information to recommend it or not. BUT! It’s all inversions!

Most people think of headstand and shoulderstand as the yoga inversions. And many people aren’t able or willing to do them at home without the help of a teacher. That’s OK. Here are a few that are more accessible.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog)

Prasarita Padottanasana (wide angle standing forward bend)

Viparita Karani (legs up the wall)

These images are highly stylized, of course. Here are a few modifications. Think of these as restorative opening poses, not stretching active poses, if you are doing them for the benefit of your lungs.

  • In downward facing dog, you can put a support under your head and/or your hands. You could even put a pillow or bolster on a chair to support your hips (much as we do in the studio with ropes around our hips).
  • In wide angle forward bend, you can put a bolster, blanket, or blocks under your head.
  • In legs up the wall, you do not have to be smack up next to the wall. As long as your knees are straight, you can be away from the wall at an angle and still get the full benefit of the pose.

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.)