Dear Sweet Community:
I have been working on a new website and blog. Hopefully this will be our last alignment newsletter in this format. You will be able to go to my website where all of the Alignment Friday newsletters will be archived as well as be able to subscribe to the newsletter or tell a friend to subscribe.
Part of what has inspired me to revamp my website and newsletter is this notion of Sangha; community. I have been thinking about our classes as a time for our family to gather. Family is selected as much by the soul as it is by biology. And I want us to be able to know each other and communicate with one another. The new format will allow you all to comment on the newsletters and ask questions interactively. My new website is really designed to become more familiar with all of you. It is a chance to tell you more about myself, like a conversation over a cup of tea. I want you all to know that I am AVAILABLE to you as your teacher. Ask me questions, give me feedback. Let me know how I can serve this sangha. And conversely, perhaps this will inspire you to think about how you might serve your community more. Reach across the divide of your mats and learn about each other, see if you can carpool with one another, you might find great connection doing something that nurtures your spirit and body!!
Alignment Tip of The Week:
The past two Fridays we focused on Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (pigeon) and Camatkarasana (wild thing).
Pigeon is a hip opener. To understand how to do it, first you must understand the basic anatomy of the hip. There are two important muscles that stabilize your pelvis; the psoas and the piriformis. The psoas connects to the lumbar spine of your lower back and to the femur bone at the top of your leg. So it crosses from the front of the pelvis to the back. To stretch the psoas you need to rotate the femur bone or quadricep forwards and stretch the belly and ribcage out of it. Try a high lunge with your back foot pressing against the wall as you rotate your quadricep forwards and send your arms to the sky lifting your ribs out of your hips. Keep your hips at the same level. That back leg in high lunge is your back leg in pigeon.
The piriformis attaches to the sacrum, the last of the spine before your tail bone , and it comes across to the top of the femur bone called the greater trochanter. It is placed amongst the muscles of your booty. To stretch the piriformis you have to turn the leg out and bend the knee.
Try lying on your back and bring a leg into figure four. Feel your hips level on the earth with your knee moving away from you. You will feel the piriformis stretch. Notice in both high lunge and figure four the hips are level, not one lifting higher than the other. This is very important.
In pigeon bring your front knee in the same line as it's hip, not underneath your belly. This is because your joints have to be in the same line so there isn't tweaking pressure on the knee. Depending on how much your hips can remain level and on the ground, you can bring the foot in towards your belly, or the shin is parallel to the top of the mat. If your back hip doesn't touch the ground slide a folded blanket or bolster underneath it. Your back leg is like high lunge, try tucking the toes under rotating the quad forward and down. with your hips level send your arms to the sky, lifting your ribs out of your hips and then lie down. Fee; the front quad roll outwards and away from your chest. Most importantly, do not lean into one hip or the other. This keeps the stretch in the psoas in the back leg and the performs in the front.
Wild thing is a combination of side plank and a backbend. Start standing with your arms out wide in a T. bend your elbows into cactus arms and rotate your elbows forwards. Notice when you rotate the elbows forwards the shoulder blades come down the back and are both stabilized and encourage the heart open. Try coming to side plank on the right side. Bend your right elbow slightly and rotate that elbow in towards its ribcage to stabilize the shoulder and then rotate it forwards to create an upper backbend in the heart. With the shoulder stabilized lift the left leg and bend the knee and step it behind you over to the right. KEEP ROTATING IN THE SHOULDER. To come out of wild thing, straighten out your shoulder into side plank and then squeeze both elbows into the ribcage in middle plank. Remember that all backbends originate from your shoulders.
I look forward to seeing you all on the mat,