Thursday, 6 June 2013

Chakra bandhasana and why getting your heels in kapotasana is completely worth it!

I am a massive advocate of back bending and spinal health and truly believe that keeping the spine healthy is key to a healthy body and mind. Vanda Scaravelli says that the function of the spine is to elongate and in this elongation elasticity and youth are regained. I completely agree. Not only is your spine strengthened on a physical level but mentally, FEAR is removed, which can be the biggest obstacle to living a happy and fulfilling life.

When I first tried kapotasana I went into complete panic mode and it was the most horrible, scary experience ever. I never thought I'd enjoy the posture. But I've persevered with it, trying to break the posture down, work out its mechanics to make it easier and more comfortable.

My posts on this blog are always only taken from my own experiences and I try to convey the posture through how it feels in my body. In a previous post on back bending I mentioned drawing the shoulder blades together and down the back. This seems to be the key to a comfortable kapo too. At the pelvic floor there's lots going on too! The tops of the femurs inwardly rotate, the sit bones draw together, the pubic bone draws down and the tailbone tucks under. This drawing in of the 4 corners of the pelvic floor seems to help to stabilise the pelvis but also seems to channel the energy from the pelvic floor upward. It could be mula bandha, but I'm not sure, not yet anyway!

So from drawing the spine out from the pelvic bowl, the sternum is lifted and the shoulder blades draw down the back. (nb. pulling shoulder blades down does not mean crunching the lower back - you're still lifting up). The drawing down of the shoulder blades seems to give that space to the thoracic spine to extend. When dropping back keep pushing forward into your thighs, inwardly rotating the tops of femurs to give space in the SI joint and for the tailbone to tuck under. Do not let your head touch the floor! Just keep pushing into the thighs, slowly creeping the fingertips alongside the feet, pushing and creeping in. Keeping the shoulder blades close to the spine and the elbows in tight. This is how I managed to get the heels on my own from the air in yesterday's practice. Once you have the heels you can actually relax into the posture. With the spine in extension like this it feels as if a channel opens from the pelvic floor up to the cervical spine which channels the breath. Sound strange I know. Maybe its sushumna nadi? Clear of granthis, giving ease to the posture, I don't know... but what I do know is that once you get the heels the posture IS easier, because the breath stabilises!!

And the other benefit of getting your heels is that the arms/shoulder blades are in the same posture to get your ankles in chakra bandhasana, which I got last night for the first time too! A tip for this one - activate where necessary, relax where possible (in the words of David Swenson!) But again, once you have bound, the whole thing is a lot easier!

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