Friday, March 25, 2011

Posture Discussion Part VIII - Standing Separate Leg Stretching

Ahh yes, Standing Separate Leg Stretching. This is the hardest posture in the entire series for me. It's not my least favorite posture, since I know my body obviously needs it, but it's very hard for me.

One of the most difficult parts of my body to deal with in Bikram are my hamstrings. They tighten up very easily (one reason I need the room really hot) and they will tend to hurt quickly any time I lock my knee. Obviously I work through the pain, but it's certainly not easy.

I can actually do this posture correctly, with the proper grip of my hands around my heels and head touching the floor, but I spend most of the time concentrating on locking my knees. This is what ultimately helps my hamstrings. Most of the time I don't even worry about getting my head on the floor, and just focus on locking the knees. I'm not saying this is what everyone should do, it just helps me in particular. The dialogue is pretty clear about touching the forehead to the floor, so by all means listen to the dialogue.

There are a few common points I see people omit in this posture which if corrected help increase the gains from it.

1) Not locking the knees. This seems to be the most common thing to fix, including and especially with me. It's hard to keep your knees locked, especially since you're doing an inversion posture, which by itself can be uncomfortable.

2) Doing the proper grip of the heels. This gets messed up quite often, with people grabbing for their ankles or lower legs. The problem with not grabbing the heels (or at least the outside of the feet) is that you have nothing to pull against. And as we know, pulling is the object of stretching!

Another point which seems to have differing opinions is whether or not to put one or both feet on the mat and towel. My studio strongly encourages everyone to stradle their mat, but I know some people and studios are fine putting one foot on the mat, and in some places even turning sideways and doing the whole posture on the mat. I personally hate putting one foot on the mat in this posture because I think it makes it too easy. If you don't use the mat or towel, you really build up leg strength on this one (and Triangle).

Next up...everyone's favorite, Triangle. I may have some other posts before I get to that one, so stay tuned!



  1. I've been practicing for about 4 months. I have yet to get my hands beneath my heels, but am getting there. :) The dialogue says 4 feet, 3 feet, whatever.. but ultimately, you HAVE to listen to your body. We've all got different body proportions. What has helped me on this posture is, after swan diving and sliding both hands on either leg, I reach the towel/mat in front of me, lightly brushing against it with my finger tips, maintaining locked knees, and then bringing the hands back in and down slightly further.

    I feel you, though. I will conquer this one sooner or later.

  2. Dandayamana - Bibhaktapada - Paschimottanasana - Standing separate leg stretching pose increases circulation to the brain and adrenal glands