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