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Why Standing Poses? Answer 3

This blog is the last in our series on standing poses. In this discussion, Bruce looks at his own experience of how standing poses have helped him access other yoga poses.

Access Other Yoga Asanas

‘Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it’ Michael Jordan

Years of running as a child and in my 20s left me with very short hamstrings.

As a result, when I started yoga at the age of 27, my forward bends had little or no ‘forward’ in them. It was a battle to sit upright, let alone go forward.

My tight hamstrings meant that I couldn’t even start to tilt my pelvis. To touch my toes with my legs straight, I had to hunch over, and by doing so risk straining my lower back.

At the time, there was little to be gained from seated forward bends: done incorrectly, they could actually have done more harm than good. But standing poses gave me a way in.

Through standing forward bends (combined with leg stretches), I was able to start lengthening my hamstrings without straining my back. And as my hamstrings started to release, I was able to begin to turn my pelvis and angle the spine forward.

Over the years, by including standing forward bends such as Parsvottanasana in my practice, I was eventually able to safely take on seated forward bends, such as Paschimottanasana.

It’s an example of how standing poses can provide access to other asanas, ultimately enabling the practice of a wider range of yoga poses.

And standing poses don’t just help with forward bends. They can also smooth the path towards many other types of asana - inversions, backbends, forward bends and twists.

For that reason, it’s useful to think of the many sub-categories that exist under the umbrella of standing poses. To name just a few:

•  arm variations in mountain pose (Tadasana) •  straight-legged standing poses (e.g. Utthita Trikonasana) •  bent-legged standing poses (e.g. Virabhadrasana II) •  one-legged standing poses (e.g. Vrksasana) •  twisting standing poses (e.g. Parivrtta Parsvakonasana) •  standing forward bends (e.g. Prasarita Padottanasana)

So if our asana practice presents us with an obstacle, perhaps standing poses can allow us to climb it, go through it, or go around it.

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