Practice: 3 Pyramids
Pyramid Pose is a dedicated and intense stretch of the hamstrings. Hip alignment is very important because it will determine what part of the hamstrings are getting stretched. When I do Pyramid, I do it with 3 variations: 1) the usual way with hips square, 2) with the back hip rotated up, and 3) with the back hip rotated down. These get at very different parts of the leg.
Pyramid 1 - hips square. This is the usual way to do Pyramid Pose. It stretches squarely into the hamstrings of the front leg, straight down the back of the femur and across the knee. These are big, strong muscles that get very tight on most people, especially runners.
Pyramid 2 - hip up. For the second part, lift the back hip up and back away from the front foot. Notice how this moves the stretch. The sensation comes into the inner upper thigh of the front leg. These are the rear adductor muscles that we use to draw the legs together.
Pyramid 3 - hip down. For the third part, drop the back hip down and forward toward the front foot. You won't have to go very far before you feel this stretch move into the outside of the hip, leg, ankle and foot. These muscles and tendons on the outside of the leg are more for stabilization, so they are stiffer, less flexible and more uncomfortable when stretched. Try to relax and experience the sensation.
I like to revisit Pyramid 1 with even hips on my way from 2 to 3 and also after doing the 3rd part. It helps me learn the complex alignment of the hip joint. This way I will know good hip alignment by what muscles I am accessing.
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This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
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