Posture Clinic – Standing Bow Part II, tips from Craig

Notes from Craig

The dynamics of the pose are kicking and stretching – forget holding.

The kick and the stretch create the balance of the posture

Direct your fingers to stretch forward so that there is not stopping, liberating any tension in the shoulders.

Make sure the energy of the stretching does not stop in the wrists

The chest must come down to create the stimulation of the circulatory system.

You MUST kick -when you hold back in the posture you create tension rather than stretching, you are preventing the full benefits of the posture

Always grab at the ankle, as this is the center of the force for your kick.

Do not think of your hips, when you shift focus to the hips you lose the rest of the posture, the hips are an extension of the  form.

For advanced students

  • Try to keep the axis of your face perpendicular to the floor.
  • do not anticipate the positioning of your hand, always grab at the ankle
  • flexible people often forget to contract the thigh and allow the knee to come unlocked, make sure to keep it locked.

If you do not bring your body down all the way and the weight remains in the heel, you are grinding your femur bone into the hip joint.

If you fall diagonally in the posture it is diagnostic, and is telling you that your legs are out of alignment.

Check out some more great tips here from New York Hatha Yoga Champion, Kyoko Katsura.

Tips for Teachers

If students are keeping their weight in their heel in the pose, and are resistant to bring it forward, approach and explain to them after class – Craig

It is important to make beginners bring the body down first, because otherwise they never would. For regular and advanced students you can instruct them to focus on the kick first to create a trajectory and achieve a fuller posture – Craig

Source: Fall 2005 Teacher Training Lectures



Filed under Craig, For Teachers, Posture Clinic, Posture Tips, Tips and Tricks

9 responses to “Posture Clinic – Standing Bow Part II, tips from Craig

  1. Allyson Meacham

    (Teacher Training 2009 Spring) Some teachers really talk a lot about making sure the hips are exactly square, aligned parallel to the floor. In Craig’s comments, he says not to think about the hips if you are more advanced. At our training, I remember Bikram saying (and I remember it because it sounded extreme): “If any teacher talks about the hips [down, parallel to floor, etc…] they should be fired!” But for some teachers, hips parallel seems to be an almost religious concern. Any comments, elucidation? Thanks, A.

    • There’s a reason why the word “hip” isn’t in the dialogue for standing bow OR balancing stick. But some teachers don’t listen to Bikram. Or Craig. They’re teaching all from their “personal practice” and they’re not understanding the mechanics of the posture. As soon as you start worrying about the hips, the kick is absolutely GONE and the posture goes nowhere! If you just stretch straight forward and kick straight back and up, the hips will end up in the right place eventually.

      This is such a pet peeve of mine. When I hear a teacher talk about the hips, half the time I fall out of the posture because I just get ANNOYED. Haha. I need to concentrate and meditate better….

      Thanks for this post, Barb!!

      – Juliana

    • Esak Garcia says that if you are training seriously for competition, you perhaps need to consider the alignment of your hips. However in all other instances, forget the hips.

      I am with Juliana, if a teacher mentions the hips, I get frustrated. Bikram said specifically in my training (Fall 2005) “Don’t talk about the hips, I kill you.” Which I though I should leave out of this OMB post. However, his reaction just shows you how strongly he feels about it.

      Also, I also look at the standing bows of the teachers that talk about the hips, usually, they have not mastered the pose and are not using their strength and flexibility to it fullest potential, which shows you how limiting focusing on the hips can be.

      After practicing for 6 years I can confidently say, forget the hips. Two shoulders in one line, chin up, shoulder to the chin, weight even on the foot, locked knee and kick more harder. That is really all you need.

  2. Tiff

    amazing – I’m always worried about my hip during this posture. Until now I thought that its alignment was more important than getting the leg up higher(and do feel that concentrating on the hip does not allow my leg to go up higher). curious and excited to ‘forget’ about my hips and just focus on the kick and stretch during this pose tomorrow!

    thanks for the advice guys!

  3. Mei

    awesome possum – thank you!

    Ah, I now know why I was told HIPS DOWN – it was competition 🙂 And I agree with thedancingj – I focussed on my hips for one class and tada, no kick, foot stayed behind my head and it looked like I was hanging out on my joints! URGH!

    And yes, Balancing Stick pose – DO NOT BOTHER WITH THE HIPS IN 1 LINE. I’ve seen a girl trying to help out by pushing 1 hip down and Bikram told her to “LEAVE IT!”

    • nabila

      This is my favorite pose but Ive had a issue with it soon after i started practicing. i seem to stretch my arms too much which led to sprains in both elbows. I cant seem to kick without exerting pressure on them. any suggestions to correct this?

      • This sounds likea question better directed to a senior teacher at your studio. Without seeing whatr is going on in your practice, it is hard to tell you what the solution may be. My best suggestion (because this is certainly something I haven’t seen before) is to approach one of your instructors, or a senior teacher at a seminar to ask in person. Hope that you find a way around it soon!

  4. In reference to the hips in Balancing Stick…Emmy said to us at the Women’s Retreat in 2010 in response to a teacher asking if her hip should be lower/parallel, “Yes, for you, of course get the hip down,” she said. “But, now, don’t go back to your studio and tell that to your students, ‘Emmy said push the hip down.’ No. For most students if the hip is up, it is because they are not stretching enough forward. You tell them to push the hip down and it will aggravate the labrum and sciatic nerve and now they have a pain in the butt. Just keep stretching forward. You watch and it will drop.”

    • Thanks for sharing Sara!

      That is a great tip!

      Its so great seeing you here on the site. I still remember your class from my teacher training, it was one of my favorites from training.


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