Posture Clinic: Awkward Pose


Awkward Pose

Utkatasana

For most of us Awkward Pose is, well, awkward. But do not let the discomfort of this position turn you away, it is packed with huge benefits for your entire body, and just a little attention and applying yourself to the posture can go a long way.

Anatomical Focus

Awkward Pose. Photo: Bikram Yoga College of India

Strengthens

  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Abdominal Muscles
  • Quadriceps
  • Tones muscles of the legs

Stretches and Opens

  • Ankles
  • Feet
  • Toes
  • Pelvis
  • Shins

Stimulates

  • Liver
  • Spleen
  • Intestines
  • Pancreas

Physical Benefits

Helps to realign the legs to prevent lower-back pain

Helps to align the meniscus in the knee

Reduces flat feet, bunions and bowed legs

Helps with lumbago

Relieves menstrual cramps

Relieves sciatica

Reduces fat under buttocks

Good for arthritic conditions in knees and hips

Relieves joint pain

Emotional Benefits

Helps to release anger and guilt in often stored in thighs.

Helps to relieve rage and frustration from calf muscles.

Second set activates the diaphragm, chest and upper abdomen, helping to alleviate depression, hypertension, anorexia and bulimia.

Posture Tips

“If you allow your stomach to be loose, you will overtax your back muscles possibly causing back pain.” Craig Villani

First Part

Always make sure the feet are properly aligned, not v-ing in or v-ing out. This creates the therapeutic alignment of the posture. Pay close attention that the feet do not change position as you move into the posture.

Keep your knees and toes always facing forward to the mirror.

To achieve greater depth in the first part, allow the chest and upper body to come down and sit as low as possible. When the hips reach their maximum depth, focus on bringing the upper body back.

Reach your fingers more forward to counter-balance your effort to sit down lower.

Always keep 100% of your body-weight in the heels.

Notice any tension in your shoulders and face and try to relax the muscles, or move the energy into you arms or abdomen.

Second Part

Start the pose by coming up as high as possible on the toes and try not to allow your heels to lower.

Watch the alignment of your ankles, they should be straight and not shooting out or in from the alignment of your legs.

“Concentrate mostly on your big and second toes of each foot pressing into the floor. The rest of the toes are mostly decoration.

As your toes press down and out into the floor, pull the abs in toward the spine and up towards the rib cage creating an abdominal “lock”.

Everything in class is oppositional, so if you are pushing something down, something else has to pull up.” Adam Roper, Bikram Yoga Harlem

As you bring your hips lower into the chair try to bring your heels higher and come more on to the toes.

Sit your hips all the way into the chair. This is important to achieve the therapeutic benefits of the posture. Shaking, burning and discomfort is a good thing, it means you are burning calories and building muscles.

If your upper body is leaning forward, this means you must come up higher on the toes. Don’t be scared to come as high as possible on the toes. Remember that Bikram often says this posture should one day be done just on the big toe.

Come up from the second part slowly to build more strength in the legs.

“Whenever there is shaking, there is always a threatened nerve. It’s NEVER an impulse saying, “If you keep going there could be trouble.” Shaking is not bad, it is your body creating new neural passageways and learning to strengthen and hold.” Emmy Cleaves

Third Part

Only come up on the toes as much as is necessary to bring the knees together, but not as far as the second set.

Never allow the knees to part, as you do the pose think of pressing not just the knees but the thighs together as if you are zipping your two legs together up to the groin.

Try to come out of the posture with a straight spine as much as possible.

“Hardest of all three parts is coming out of the third part with a straight spine, so keep trying.” Bikram



6 Comments

Filed under Daily Feature, Posture Clinic, Posture Tips, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Posture Clinic: Awkward Pose

  1. Taking class with Emmy is like an anatomy lesson. You learn all kinds of things about how the body should work.

  2. Patrice Papke

    Hi. I agree that shaking is a good thing… in this posture. However, it doesn’t seem to be a good thing in half moon/hands to feet. I sometimes see students shake in hands to feet especially and it just doesn’t seem productive. It seems to me that it should be a steady pull/stretch, not a power move. Please correct me if I am wrong. Thanks.

    • Patrice,

      It is my understanding that in postures, there should never be bouncing. So never a pattern of pull-release-pull harder pattern. But shaking from using your muscles is fine. Bikram always says you have to use your strength to gain flexibility, but you also have to gain strength to able to go deepr in postures. The shaking as Emmy describes it is from strengthening connections to the muscles, and I have also heard it is from muscles reforming. This then is very productive to deepening the poses.

      In my class I often like to say that in class strength and flexibility ate like a right foot and a left foot. When you move forward with one the other is behind, rarely do they stand equally together. But as long as you are moving forward in your practice it doesn’t matter if one day you work on your strength the next flexibility.

      So in my opinion and from my experience, there is no pose in which a little shaking is not good.

      Anyone else have thoughts??

      Barbora

  3. Wow. Fabulous breakdown of this posture!!

  4. This is some serious information! I had no idea that this much was going on during that posture! Thanks for sharing…

  5. SylviaG.

    One small detail may well help you in Utkatasana, mainly 1st part, and that is if you make sure your chin is not “tucked in” to your chest (i think students tend to do that a little bit). Lifting it up as little as half an inch maybe, making sure it´s perpendicular to the floor makes a huge difference in arching the spine and allows you to go deeper in the posture.

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