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Urdhva Prasarita Padasana
Elements of PracticeWhat does core strength really mean to a yoga student? It’s more than having toned-looking abs. It’s about learning to draw on your internal strength from a steady center. When something is truly strong at its core, it’s unshakable. In Urdhva Prasarita Padasana, you reach with your limbs in opposite directions, but your center stays still and quiet. Finding a still center can help you navigate the highs and lows of life. The mind no longer gets pulled in all directions but instead has the ability to remain present and focused. You can learn to experience that stable center as the steadfast or unchanging element that resides within you.
- Firstly, lie down on your back with your arms along the sides of your body.
- Now tighten the core muscles of your abdomen. Draw the navel down to the spine and press the sides of your waist down to the floor.
- Exhale slowly as you raise both your legs off the floor
- While doing this make sure that your spine is straight and pressed down on the floor.
- Bring your legs up to a vertical position
- Stretch through your inner thighs and toes and hold the pose at this stage.
- Slowly lower your legs about a third way down as you inhail. Hold the pose. At this point your lower back may come off the floor slightly. This is normal and acceptable.
- Slowly lower your legs a little further on each inhalation until you are inches off the floor and continue to be in this pose for a few seconds. Listen to your body and go to where is comfortable for you.
- Depending on your abdominal strength, you can then either bring your legs back up to vertical immediately or rest them on the floor for a few seconds before repeating the exercise again
- As a beginner, you can hold each stage of the pose for five to ten seconds. Gradually build up the time in ten second increments until you can hold each stage for a minute
Beginner’s Tip :
When you raise your legs off the ground, try keeping the knees bent to begin with until you feel you have the strength and flexibility to extend to a straight leg. If you have some difficulty in practicing the pose, but still manage to get it right; you can try extending one leg at a time while the other leg is bent with the foot on the floor to tone to build up your muscle strength gradually. It is also easier to do this pose if your press your arms and palms into the floor as you raise your legs up. Besides this you could place your hands under your buttox as a support to lift your legs and extend them. If your legs are shaking, squeeze your thighs together as you lift them or bend the knees until the shaking stops. As a beginner it is important that you have a trained yoga professional to guide you through the various stages of the Upward Extended Feet Pose. This will help avoid any injury to the muscles as also avoid over straining the muscles in any way.
Benefits to Body Parts :
Some of the major benefits of practicing the Upward Extended Feet pose are as follows:
- It helps in strengthening the core abdominal muscles
- It tones the organs in the abdomen
- It improves lumbar spine strength
- It helps Improve flexibility of the hip flexors
- Practicing the pose also helps in reducing fat in the abdominal area.
Therapeutic Applications :
Some of the therapeutic benefits that the pose provides are as follows
- To treat stomach ailments
- Improves digestion and elimination
- Improves posture and alignment
- Improves breathing
- For weight loss and obesity
- Strengthens the Manipura chakra that leads to the building up of self-discipline and will power
- Lie on your side with your hips to a wall
- Swing your legs upwards so that the backs of the legs and heels can be on the wall
- Press your buttocks against the wall for extra support. If this is not possible and your pelvis and lower back rise up, slide away from the wall until your lower back and pelvis are flat on the floor
- Extend the arms up along your ears, interlock your fingers and breathe slowly and deeply
- Keep the hips on the floor, inhale, and slowly raise your legs so that your heels are off but the thighs are pressed into the wall
- Hold this position for a few counts
- Exhale and place your heels back on to the wall
- Change the interlock of your fingers and repeat the exercise
Another variation to make this a little more challenging would be to use a Yoga block between the feet through out the practice. This helps to tone and increase strength throughout the entire body.
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