How to Build An Ashtanga Practice

Session 14 - Mechanics of Sun B - Strong Back Legs

Sun B sets you up with the skills you will need to accomplish the poses and transitions to come in the Primary Series.  How we step into Warrior 1 is so important to how we approach all standing poses - Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Triangle, Revolved Triangle, Extended Side Angle, Revolved Extended Side Angle and Parshvotanasana (Pyramid Pose). Often when we are practice and learning to practice we are so focused on moving forward through time and space that we forget about what’s behind.

 

What is behind holds up what is up front.  I know. Very deep and very strong.

 

Think of your back leg as a strong tent post. Your tent can only go as high as that strong post and can only lower with consistent, strong support or else it will collapse.

 

We focused on the coordinated rooting of the feet stepping up into Warrior 1. The next step is to remember the strength of the back leg as we rise to abide in Warrior 1. The strength of the back leg makes it possible to sink into the front hip and achieve strength, balance and flexibility.

 

Strength comes from the support of the back leg and the glutei holding the pelvis in a stable, neutral position. In the case of Warrior 1, the pelvis is diagonal and that is the base for the twist of the shoulders facing the top of the mat and the lift of the arms along the ears/eyes.

 

Balance comes from the ability to share the load of the body right/left and front/back. It also supports the two actions of Warrior 1 - the twist and the back bend.

 

Flexibility comes from being able to abide not too tight and not too loose. We are toning the spine for the twisting poses ahead. We are stretching for the folds and balances ahead.

 

The Mechanics of the Strong Back Leg in Warrior 1

    1. From Down Dog, step your right foot forward and simultaneously spin down the back left heel in line with the right heel.

    2. Immediately strengthen the back left leg into the ground - remembering that down informs up!

    3. Making sure there is NO bend in the back leg - long behind the knee - Reach arms out to the sides and up as you reach out long through the spine to rise into Warrior I with shoulders squared to the top of the mat.

    4. Settle into the front right hip ONLY as much as you can sustain the strength and length of the back leg.  NO BENDY BACK KNEE!

    5. Feel the glutei firmly holding the left side of the pelvis - especially as you dissolve into the transitional vinyasa to the other side of Sun B.

 

To practice this concept of strong back leg, make sure you are slowing down to feel the deliberate support from the back leg. Practice this a lot to become friendly and familiar with this…you will need it for the standing poses in the Primary Series.

 

With consistent practice, you will feel more and more like a strong, confident Warrior. You’ll build gluteal support and your posture will benefit as well.

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