MY FAVORITE CUESNew inspiring cue that revolves around the theme of the month each Wednesday. All content taken is taken down at the end of the month when new theme is posted.
BIRD OF PARADISE/SVARGA DVIJASANA
All cues are meant to be used when you're in full expression of the pose unless otherwise noted.
As you lift up into Bird of Paradise with the right leg bound, consciously lift your right hip crease up as you root down into your left heel. Then, practice the same cue on the other side.
Note: this pose can be hard on the low back. If you have low back issues, work cautiously (or not at all) into the pose.
One Favorite Find for the week is a video that demonstrates the fundamentals of getting into the pose. If you need a reminder before reading on, click on the image below to watch on my website.
The cue above will activate the hip flexor of the lifted leg as well as the back of the standing leg to help take undue pressure out of the low back. You may be aware that when your low back/lumbar spine is flexed (rounded forward), and you add weight to it when lifting, the discs in the low back can be compromised. As you lift up into Bird of Paradise, the more you can use your core for support (hip flexor is part of the core) and the strength from the back of your standing leg (glutes and hamstrings), the less strain on your back.
As shown in the video above, you want to start in a forward fold with the standing knee bent to harness the full power of that leg. Your low back will be slightly rounded at this stage of the pose as well. Here you can check in for excessive rounding in the low back and, if that’s the case, work first on stretching your hamstrings to make sure you have the ability to hinge forward from your hip joint and not your low back.
If your hamstrings are tight, you run the risk of your pelvis tilting backwards, which can create excessive rounding in the low back and overstretch the ligaments and muscles there. Julie Gudmested is a physical therapist, has been teaching for 50 years, and has extensive training in specializing in chronic pain, orthpedeic problems, and sports injuries. She explains, “as you bend forward, more weight gets transferred to the front of the discs. With excessive force, the gel-like center of the disc can be pushed backward into the support ligaments, which can then bulge out.”
This is important knowledge for any forward fold. It is not meant to scare you, but rather educate you so you can make strides in your practice and teach from a place of knowledge. I always say we are built differently – some people never have back issues regardless of their alignment. But, since we don’t know who those people are, why not learn the absolute safest way to practice a forward fold?
If you want a quick anatomy brush-up on your low back, click here or on the image below to be taken to my website for a video and article on lumbar spine anatomy and possible sources of pain.
***The cues I find and post are by well respected body experts and Doctors who teach yoga and other body nerds like myself.
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