My new daily yoga practice has brought to me such gifts within the past two weeks. Every day goes by and I practice. Whilst I practice I hardly notice what is going on second to second, but then something happens between those seconds which alerts me. This week I have experienced the revelation, the key to the konasanas, and it may be, but is too early to tell, the key to forward bends in general (I have not yet had chance to explore further, next practise maybe).
So I was told by my teacher D that in Baddha Konasana, the one where you lean forward, the key is to curl your tailbone under and reach forward with your belly. I've been trying this for weeks now and it has definately worked for me, getting me deeper into the posture. Yet yesterday, as I was reaching forward not getting much deeper with the tail bone instruction, I engaged the anal muscles and pushed the anus down into the mat and..... OMG.
"Moolabandha 'The Master Key'" by Swami Buddhananda, described the anatomical aspects of what I found. He calls is Ashwini mudra, the anal area including the sphincter, ani externus and levitator any which consists of the pubococcygenus, iliococcygeus and puborectalis, i.e.. the anal muscles are contracted. So it wasn't the whole moolabanda that needed engaging this time but Ashwini mudra! What a subtle difference but an amazing one! I then tried it whilst in the sitting straight up baddha konasana and my knees immediately touched the floor and upavistha konasana and I held my chest towards the floor without having to hold the feet.
The contraction of the anal muscles (ashwini mudra) immediately resulted in the realisation of apana vayu in the body, grounding the body but at the same time samana vayu (the vayu that unifies the two opposite forces of prana vayu and apana) elevated the heart upwards from the navel resulting in the lengthening of the spine. The two opposing forces were balanced for that moment.
I don't want to say much more because I'l love you to try it for yourselves and let me know what you think. But what I would like to say is that sometimes over-thinking postures can hold you back from, well, realisation I guess, and sometimes the ease of the posture that is the essence of Patanjali's yoga lies within the gaps between these thoughts...
... in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea (Litlle Gidding, T.S.Eliot)