Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Best & Worst Stretch in the World

I mentioned that I've been doing yoga in the mornings. Overall it's been a pleasant experience, but, being the inflexible gal I was, it's been challenging to even get into the right position for some moves. I've had to work my way up to some of them, including the demon of all stretches: the plow posture.

I mean, ow, right? This shit hurts. It took me at least two weeks to get this pose down and I still have problems shifting into it sometimes, BUT now that I have more-or-less made friends with this stretch, it is my absolute favorite.

I'll tell you why: when you do the plow pose, you are stretching everything from your head to your heels. And that stretch is much deeper than any other back or leg stretch I've ever done. It hurts so good now and when I sit up afterwards, there is a freeing sensation in my neck, back and thighs that nothing has ever compared to.

If you're interested in trying it out yourself, here's step-by-step instructions from Shantosha.com:

  1. Lie flat on the back in the shava-asana (the corpse pose).

  2. Inhale through the nostrils. Place the palms face-down on the floor. Keeping the hips on the floor, bend the knees and bring them up toward the stomach while exhaling.

  3. Inhale, then while exhaling, raise the legs straight up perpendicular to the floor. You may support your hips with your hands or leave the arms flat on the floor, whichever is most comfortable.

  4. Exhale and continue to raise the legs over the head, bending at the waist, lifting the back and buttocks until the toes touch the floor directly in back of the head. Keep the feet together. If the lower back is supported by the hands try returning the arms flat to the floor with the palms facing down. If you are unable to comfortably place the arms on the floor continue to support the lower back with the hands.

  5. Keep the knees straight. Breath slowly through the nostrils and hold the posture for several minutes. If you cannot touch the floor with your toes hold them as close to the floor as possible and continue to exert effort to lower them.

  6. Reverse the steps to return to the shava-asana.
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Jenna Tayon said...

That is by FAR my favorite stretch to do. I'm in no way extremely coordinated or balanced, but with time I'm getting better at nailing that one.

May said...

I'm not extremely coordinated or balanced either, but that gives me more problem on poses where I'm supposed to stand on one leg. I'm always falling over!

Tiara said...

I find that pose really easy, actually. It's the standing-on-one-leg poses that stymie me - I'm totally off balance :P