My mindful approach to Bikram hot yoga has proven to be particularly beneficial to those with stiff, injured and unfit bodies. Recently I received an email asking if I would go through each of the 26 Bikram postures outlining the key steps involved to perform each pose correctly without injury. Yes sure, why not I said. I'll add it to my To Do list.
That was several months ago, so it's time I started. Below is my approach in performing the 1st part of Half Moon Pose.
My overall approach to Hatha yoga is always that less is more, hacking away at the unessential, harnessing the power of stillness. In every posture you're engaging a range of muscles and while relaxing all other muscles. Most beginners over contract muscle which need to be relaxed. The more your body learns to relax these muscles the less you are fighting against yourself and the more the body will open, building greater precision of strength in the process. If you simply try to go into a posture as far as you can, the body's self-protection system takes effect locking everything up so that you don't injure yourself - now you’re just knackering yourself out and getting nowhere.
In all the postures, always focus on creating space; opening up the joints, opening up the body through the precise application of strength.
Don't just do it, feel it, breathe it.
Half Moon Pose (Part 1)
Feet together heels and toes touching.
Arms up over your head; palms together; interlace fingers and cross thumbs. Maintain a tight grip through the posture.
Body weight on your heels; thigh muscles contracted; tuck your tailbone under; hips forward a little bit; open up your chest and rib cage; arm locked with elbows against the ears, if you can.
Now bring your focus to the spine and length up, opening up the whole spine.
THE POSTURE (left side opening)
While keeping the spine stretched open, push your hips to the left and very slowly come down to the right, opening up the whole of your left side.
Keep your shoulders and hips parallel to the mirror. Lift your left side chest up to increase the opening down the left side. Opening up the whole of your left side will create a stretch all the way down the left side from the fingers tips to the toes.
When you reach a point of intense tightness hold it for a few breaths. Then go again; first lengthen the spine and then push hips more and create more opening down the whole lift side.
As always stomach sucked in and shoulders & hips parallel to the mirror; breath calm; thigh muscles tight.
Repeat on the other side (Right side opening)
Note: It's not about creating a stretch, it's about opening up the whole on side which in turn creates a stretch.
Don't fool yourself into thinking its about how far you can come down. It's all about how much you can prize open the whole of the one side.