I think for many it’s a pose we fly into and fly out of never really noticing what exactly is going on in our bodies in the process.
I remember one of my first yoga DVD’s by Shiva Rea, a Sun Salutations Vinyasa, I did love that DVD, however after a while and after I began to dive into learning more about asana and my body I began to recognize that I was falling victim to my tightness and the speed of that DVD.
For many of us, we have landed tight hips, a tight lower back and a weak core, for a number of reason that I am not here to discuss, but lets just say that it is very easy for our practice to start to dance around our limitations, restrictions and weaknesses without even knowing it.
So here is a question “What qualifies as going deeper into the pose?” I use to think that it meant dropping as deep as I can, I never really drew a relationship to what my body was doing to what I needed to be doing or was avoiding.
Let me help you, look at the two pictures below, the one on the left is me sinking deeply in the lunge, and the one on the right is me working more diligently in my restrictive areas of my hips.
The picture on the right is:
- Me not using my pelvic-core (pelvic floor + TvA)
- Which is allowing my tight psoas to drag my pelvis forward and drag my lower back ribs down towards my sacrum, leaving me with flared ribs and a sinking body
- My inner hip is much more open than my outer hip, so when I unconsciously practice Deep Lunge my hip swings open like a barn door and moves straight towards the more “open” area of my hip to sink me down
- Here the back leg is forgotten about, basically resting on the mat
- For those of you with a tight goin or psoas (muscle going from inner femur through the pelvis and abdomen to attach on lower vertabre and 12 rib) in Deep Lunge this muscle will pull your pelvis forward and shorten your back muscles, be careful of this and notice where your body should go rather than where it just goes because
So on the left:
- I am working to bring the outside of my back hip forward more into a neutral, in doing this I stretch the inner hip where I am the tightest and on the hip of the front leg I work to strengthen and lengthen the hamstring and IT band
- By activating my pelvic-core I allow my pelvis to stay in neutral and keep my lower back long rather than crunched
- Drawing length from my back rib cage upwards towards my fingers and dropping my front rib cage down I can lengthen 360* around rather than just the front ribs
- Work to internally rotate the arms from the shoulder sockets, broadening the scapula away from the spine, rather than just turning the palms to face inward
- Finally press the back big toe and top of the foot into the floor (first check to make sure it’s behind the hip, tight hips the leg will swing in to cross the mid-line), take that pressing and activating of the back leg and extend upwards through the finger tips
- Drop your arms to cactus and turn the palms to face in for more arm activation
- Place a blanket under the back knee for more support
- Draw your arms down and have them rest on a chair at your side or blocks by your hips.
To practice this pose:
- Inhale prepare the body and Exhale keeping your pelvic-core strong and active, keeping pelvic neutral begin to lower your pelvis towards the front foot, without tipping it forward.
- Press into the front foot and notice it activate to help hold you in place.
- Draw length into your lower spine and keep your belly contracted, relax your rib cage and on a nice strong Inhale extend your arms upwards, reaching.
- Press through your back big toe and reach to your finger tips.
- Hold strongly here for five to ten breaths.
- Repeat opposite side and then go back to your tighter side for 2:1 ratio