May Pose of the Month
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana - Standing Splits
Urdhva - Upward, Prasarita - Extend or Stretch, Eka - One, Pad - Foot, Asana - Pose
Although it translates into Upward Stretch of One Foot. Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana is more commonly known in English as Standing Splits.
Level One Pose
Welcome to May. Finally we can feel summertime approaching and with it we have a little bit more energy, we start to get things done, we're moving closer to where you want to go in life (hopefully, and if not, now is the perfect time to start)! The longer evenings and warmer weather lifts our spirits and we generally feel more motivated and optimistic. In regards to your yoga practice a continuous flowing practice that's not rushed can be really nurturing to the mind, body and soul as you continue to move forward and grow.
Urdhva Prasrita Eka Padasana or Standing Splits which I'll call it from here on in is a perfect progression from where we have been over the last few months and gives us many opportunities to grow in future classes. Standing Splits help to stimulate the 2nd Chakra (Sacral / Swadhisthana Chakra). The 2nd Chakra is associated with creativity and birth and when it is balanced we are more productive, focused and accomplish what we set out to do. The element of the Sacral Chakra is water therefore its energy is characterised by flow and flexibility which this months flowing practice represents. Water takes the shape of the the things it inhibits for example when you put water in a bottle it takes the shape of the bottle, it moves around things that get in the way in a river, its adaptable and this is what we can begin to create in our mind and body as we practice, rather than resisting and fearing change lets embrace it by becoming creative and adaptable when we hit a road block on our path and journey through life.
The beauty about standing splits is that its not important how high the raised leg actually lifts. You know where you wanted your lifted leg to go so you send it in that direction, then you focus on grounding the standing leg and see if you can feel how the downward energy of the standing leg creates an upward movement of the lifted leg. So rather than using all of your energy trying to lift the leg higher and higher, instead balance your energy and awareness towards directing equal amounts of energy in both legs. The work in the standing leg is required to get you to where you want to go and the lifted leg is the drive and motivation to keep you focused on the more mundane tasks, that are less exciting or interesting.
Its often believed that you need a lot of hamstring flexibility for this asana, however its more often the hip flexors and quadriceps on the front of the raised leg that restricts how high your leg actually lifts so we'll focus on opening and lengthening those tight psoas muscles in the hips throughout the practice.
ENERGETIC AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Calms the brain
Improves memory and concentration
Stimulates and activates the 2nd Chakra
Balances the Vata-Kapha Dosha's in Ayvurveda
Stretches the hamstrings, calves, thighs, hip flexors and groin
Strengthens the thighs, knees and ankles
Improves strength of the bones and joints
Stretches the spine and relaxes the bones and joints in the neck
Promotes proper digestion
Balances the reproductive system
Stimulates the liver and kidney
Increases flow of blood to the brain, calming the nervous system
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Lower back injury
Ankle or knee injury
HINTS AND TIPS
If the floor is to far away use blocks
If you have a slipped disc or have to avoid rounding the lower back use blocks placed under shoulders and emphasis lengthening the spin
Practice trying to lengthen the front of the spine
Use the wall to help you stay in the pose longer to open the hip flexors and receive all the benefits being inverted