Thursday, January 05, 2012

Urdva mukhapaschimottanasana: forward bend with a difference

This is the spicy version of the paschimottanasana.. /and the plough and something I have not myself held for long in my personal practice. So, I thought this week will start on it.  This photo was shot without warmup and after a full meal:) So, yes, it is not what I would want as the end result in this pose!

When I show it first, lot of students, including advanced ones, mistake it for halasana (plough). There is a huuge difference between the two. In the plough the legs do not make contact with the face, as here. The legs are also more closely hugged to the torso in this one -- in the plough the torso and legs are apart. If the hands are released that tension will release the legs, so the hands are also fully engaged in this practice, unlike in a plough. It also definitely demands more in terms of flexibility than  in both the poses -- be it the seated forward bend or the plough. It is an advanced variation of either, in fact. And I am sure will prove to be difficult to be held longer -- which I am going to `test' soon...


In an ideal pose, the hips should be closer to the floor. The legs straighter. The chin, rather than the nose should be in contact with the knees. And the hands should be more over and behind the feet, instead of just clasping it... We all have so much scope to grow, in yoga:)

B.K.S. Iyengar says it prevents hernia, shapes the legs and removes severe backache (but catch telling that to somebody having a backache, in my class:)!!

What you need for this pose?
A confident paschimottanasana which means it must be held effortlessly.
A confident plough (same description)
And ability to withstand the `good pain', that happens when a new pose is attempted.


Happy sadhana!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shameem you wrote "This photo was shot without warmup and after a full meal":
you know best But
why I thought one should not attempt any exercise after meal let alone yoga pose .I am missing something or this pose can be done after a meal.
Need your help.
Thanks

Shameem Akthar said...

hello... I am sometimes required to do the headstand after a meal, in a class. So obviously, the rules do not matter for nut cases like me.. so pleease dont throw the text book at me... yes, for those who are still having an unsteady practice, an inversion can cause the food to fall back in the gullet, and even kill you:) Happy?!!

Shameem Akthar said...

Plus I held it for all of eight seconds... (ten seconds auto mode, the camera), so even nutcases like me have their limits!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shameem,

I came across this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?_r=1

Perhaps you can share your thoughts on this topic?

Thanks,
Rohit

Shameem Akthar said...

rohit, i saw that article also. interestingly, all major local papers, including the times of india carried it. I skimmed through the article. As I see it, the writer has spoken to just one yoga teacher. Yoga teachers are all very opinionated, so how speaking to one opinionated teacher ranks as journalism is very doubtful for me(as former journalist).. without substantiation from other sources...
so in my mind, that article is already trash, not to be bothered with...
Also, lately u may have noticed that the conservatives all over the world have become paranoid about yoga and its spiritual underpinnings. so I believe somewhere such motivated writings are just funded by such groups... and they have also been two books I have seen on similar topics -- one by an Indian doctor.. so when u read an article like that u need to see if it is an opionion piece being passed off as a researched article, and take it from there.. and also search for motivations of why some people may talk like that and what could be their fear of such practices...
I am not going to get into that because for serious yoga teachers, yoga's healing is a matter of personal experience where they themselves have healed from such severe physical problem..