Ardha, Half Way Lift, Flat Back, Lengthening...
"Inhale and lengthen the spine forward to the flat back." We probably hear this cue a lot in guided yoga classes. Unfortunately, the importance of it is often neglected. We tend to think the flat back is a transition step and rush through it instead of treating it as A POSE. Similar thing happens when we transition from Chaturanga, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana to Adho Mukha Svanasana. We often fly through Chaturanga and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Yes, fly through!
My practice today was to pay more attention to the Half Way Lift on my inhalation. When inhaling to Half Way Lift, I created space in my body and prepared for the following pose (any forward fold pose) on the exhalation. Also, it was the pose I transitioned to after exiting from the forward fold pose on the inhalation. Things I focused on in Half Way Lift were:
The aforementioned focuses were keys to open my hamstrings and to go deeper into forward fold postures. The anterior pelvic tilt not only improved my hamstring flexibility, it also opened my hips. I could clearly feel how my hips were more open in Supta Kurmasana. My teacher even mentioned the same thing to me today. Either improving hamstring or hip flexibility, both were great. But most importantly, I wanted to lower the risk for injury. I suspected my lower back pain (L1-2 vertebrae), old injury, was due to the fact that I didn't anterior tilt my pelvis back in the day. As a result, my pelvis was pulled down by the femurs causing tightness on the motifitus muscles. The pain slowly went away after I started working on the anterior pelvic tilt in forward fold postures.
The Half Way Lift was not limited in Ardha Uttanasana. I carried the focus throughout the entire practice, especially in seated forward folds. Before entering or after exiting from any pose, I made sure that I was lengthening the spine forward and keeping the pelvis anterior tilt. It was one full inhalation there and deserved my full attention.
It is the little attention to the detail makes everything different!!!
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