Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Posing on Tuesday; Extended Right Angle

Here we are: the final pose in the dancing warrior series (besides the vinyasa, but that's a whole other animal). Today we are looking at a pose with - what feels like - about a thousand variations. There is always a way to take this pose deeper... like, whoa. It gets a little crazy, so, without further ado...


After reverse warrior, we come back to warrior 2, take a breath and - keeping the chest facing the side wall - reach the front arm forward until your torso is in a straight line with your back leg. Then rest your front elbow on your knee.

Make sure you're front knee is still tracking straight out over the front middle toe. Your back leg should be fully engaged, with the outside edge of the foot pressing into the floor as much as possible. When you feel like you've got your legs and chest all in the right place, reach your back arm up towards the sky with the palm facing front. If you are comfortable and don't have any neck issues, look up at your hand.

Here are where the 1,000 variations come into play. If you can keep your chest facing the same direction - without letting it collapse down - feel free to lower the bottom hand to the floor and place it inside...

or outside the front foot. Outside is harder to keep your chest open to the side of the room. If you choose to place your hand on the floor inside the leg, you can use your elbow and tricep to keep the front knee from folding inward.

If you choose to reach for the floor, make sure that you're not collapsing your weight into your hand. You want to feel the sensation that your arms are reaching away from each other.

If you want to take it deeper, but not all the way to the floor, you can place a yoga block inside or outside the foot and rest your hand on it.

Still want to get a deeper stretch? You can leave your elbow resting on your knee, the block OR take your hand to the floor for these variations...

Your first option for the top arm is to turn the palm to face the back of the room and reach your arm out along side your ear so that your palm then faces the floor. Keep trying to drop the top shoulder away from your ear so that you don't get scrunched up. The goal here is to lengthen.

The other upper arm option is to turn your top hand so the palm faces the behind you, bend your elbow and reach your arm around your back. Leave it wherever it lands comfortably or try to reach your hand so that you can grab the inside of the thigh of your front leg. You're now using this arm to rotate your chest open to the side of the room. This is called a half wrap.

If this is a challenge for you, stop here. Breathe in this position until its comfortable. This could take weeks, months, or longer of regular yoga practice. Unless you're a gumby, in which case we move forward...

The next variation is to go into "the wrap". You'll probably only want to try this if you can comfortably get your front hand on the floor while keeping your chest open to the front of the room.
Then you can take your front hand (the one on the floor), reach it underneath your front bent leg and grab hold of your other hand (which is behind your back). Start out grabbing however you can, but eventually, you'll want to grab the wrist of the top hand with the fingers of the bottom hand.

This allows the top shoulder to pull back and opens up the chest.

Things to remember when in right angle pose:

  • Keep your chest open and facing the side of the room. If your chest is facing the floor, you're too deep in the pose for your body and you should back out of it some. Release the arms or take the elbow back up to the knee.
  • Try to keep your butt tucked into the center line. It should not be sticking out towards the side wall.
  • The goal is always to look up, but if at any point you feel discomfort in your neck, turn your head straight forward or even look down at the floor. Listen to your body.

Ready to move on?

The next two variations take right angle pose and turn them into one legged balance poses; bird of paradise and bound half moon - neither of which are easy.

If you've got your bearings in bound right angle, you might be ready to take it to the next level and try Bird of Paradise. 

Sooooo, first, step your back foot up to meet the front one. Transfer your weight into the back foot, and then, slooooooowly...

...slowly come up to standing, keeping your arms wrapped around your leg/back, and straighten your leg.

If you can get to standing without straightening your leg, that's a great place to work from. Then just gradually work on straightening it.

Our other one legged wrapped balance pose is Bound Half Moon.

So there's no confusion here, I switched legs to do the other balance pose.

From bound right angle, step the back foot up to meet the front foot, but keep the weight in your front leg.

Then straighten your leg and slowly lift the back leg up towards the back of the room. You're arms are still wrapped. You're hips are open to the side of the room and your foot is parallel to the floor. If you can manage it, turn your head and look up at the ceiling.

Sorry this next shot is blurry. I can only hold this for a few seconds.

So, as you can see, the possibilities with this pose are quite numerous.

If you decide to try any of them, make sure that you have warmed up, so you don't hurt yourself.

What do you think of right angle pose? Feeling whelmed by all the possibilities?

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