Thursday, May 16, 2013

Take a seat

A quick entry tonight.  Only 34 1/2 more hours until the big race!

This week I've been tapering off my mileage - only 7 for Sunday's long run, 2 for Tuesday's speedwork, and 4 for today's easy run.  I've also been going to bed earlier and getting up earlier in increments of 15 minutes, culminating with tonight's early bedtime of 10:00 and wakeup call at 6 tomorrow.  (Saturday's will likely be in the neighborhood of 5 or 5:30)

Along with this, I've worked on adding more yoga for myself (now that I have all this extra time in the morning!) and on chilling my practice out.  Simpler poses, shorter sequences - more floor-based poses rather than pushing myself too hard.

I took a beautifully simple but fantastic open level class this week, and we held dandasana, staff pose, for several breaths without ever taking it to the usual forward fold.  We just recognized it as a worthy pose in and of itself.  It's overlooked, much like tadasana (mountain pose) so often is, and I thought I'd highlight it this evening.

More than just a preparation for paschimottanasana, dandasana is a deeply beneficial pose, relating to that utmost important element of our body - our posture.  It's very challenging - sitting down with legs outstretched and engaged, feet flexed with the toes reaching toward your face, and the back straight, honoring the natural curvature in the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spines to make that slight S shape.  Long in the side waist, no hunching forward or rounding in the lumbar.  Bringing the hands to either side of the hips and pressing the fingertips down assists in creating that tall spine.
Photo from http://www.yogr.com/

Most folks (myself included) need or at least greatly benefit from having a folded blanket or a bolster underneath their sit bones to assist in having a tall spine.  It can also be helpful to place a block in between the thighs to properly engage the legs, creating a slight inward rotation of the thighs.

This pose strengthens the muscles that give us our posture.  So often we sit slouched at desks all day, stand hunched over, crane our heads forward to play with our iPhones - I'm guilty of all three.  Releasing the ever-present tension from our foreheads, brows, jaws, and necks, this pose allows us to hold ourselves up straight with strength and integrity.

With the half marathon so close to being finished, I can feel in myself a desire to get back to the yoga basics on my own personal practice.  I look forward to rediscovering the intricacies, benefits, and challenges in seemingly simple poses as I start to heal my asphalt-battered body post race!

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