It's All About The Legs
It's been three days since I practiced last Friday. It feels much longer than that. There was no practice yesterday because it was a moon day. Instead, I did strength and flexibility training, and it kicked my butt, literally. My glutes were sore from the training. Luckily, it didn’t affect my practice (yet, we shall see how I feel tomorrow).
Today, I focused on the leg strength, straight legs as opposed to bending or locking knees. Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana was one of the poses I paid more attention on this morning. Not only did I work on straightening the knees, I also bought awareness to the glutes. Why did I talk about glutes? The gluteal muscles are so important in many asanas including standing balance poses and backbends. In order to keep the standing leg straight in Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, the gluteal muscles play an important role.
There are couple variations of Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. The first one is a great modification for those with tight hips (picture below). The second one is the full Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. The third variation is what I have been doing for the past months. Besides hip opening, all three options require great engagement of the gluteal muscles to balance in one leg, especially when both hands are off the ground (3rd option).
Since my butts were on fire from yesterday’s workout, it was easy to know whether I was engaging my gluteal muscles or not (if I felt soreness, I knew I was using them). In Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, I played with bent and straight knees, muscles relaxation and engagement. Then I found myself either wobbling or balancing in the pose. I felt the significance of the muscles engagement, particularly the quads and glutes. I’ve seen the change of my standing poses since I started working on legs. I used to bend my knees and now I am able to balance in one leg with straight knee. I really appreciate my teacher asked me to work on the variation of Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana to strengthen my legs and glutes. It not only improves my standing pose, but it is also beneficial to the drop back. In order to do the drop back with control, strong leg is a must.
I put two pictures below to show the difference of my standing leg back in February and now. What I thought was "straight" leg is actually quite bent. Although my leg is more straight today, I believe there is still more to work on.
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