With the nice weather comes a lot more outdoor activity. The number of cyclists and runners on the roads and trails has dramatically increased in the last couple of weeks. This week’s Power Pose Dwi Pāda Kouṇḍinyāsana, provides a challenging counter-balance to this type of activity and will definitely make you aware of your lliotibial Band.
Better know as the IT Band, this bundle of fibrous tissue runs along the outside of the thigh, providing a connection point for muscles and works to help stabilize the knee and hip. These activities that we love, and the activities we endure (like sitting at a desk or in a car for long periods) can cause IT Band overuse and pain.
For your best experience with this posture, be sure to stretch your IT Band first. A forward fold with crossed legs is great way to target this area. For one of my favorites, come to all fours, reach one leg long and cross it over and behind the opposite leg, taking the toes to the floor. Square the hips, then gaze over the shoulder toward the foot. Stay for 5-10 breaths and practice this one regularly.
Once you’re warmed up and read to go, try these variations. Be sure to engage uddiyana bandha and come into the pose with a big reach of the heart.
Option 1 – Parsva Bakasana. The foundation of this week’s pose is side crow which we’ve worked on before. Focus on finding a big twist, rooting the bottom leg to the tricep, and confident flight.
Option 2 – Top Leg Extension. Any time the form changes in arm balance, the delicate equilibrium can be compromised. Moving slowly, keep the knees glued together, reach the top leg long, make sure the bottom leg stays securely connected to the tricep. If you slip during the extension, reset, find a deep twist, then reaffirm the thigh on the tricep.
Option 3 – Two Leg Extension. Slowly extend both legs. Flex the feet and spread the toes. Position the feet like they are stepping on a flush surface. Press through the balls of the feet as you draw the outside edges back. The legs do not have to completely extend. If you reach a point where you feel the limitation of the IT band, back off to the point where there is a gentle stretch. Work to open the IT Band, so you can achieve maximum extension.
Option 4 – Float the Hip. This variation can actually be a little easier then rooting both elbows to the body. The slightly wider stance of the hands allows more room for the twist and the reach of the heart. Try to get the legs parallel to the floor. This may require a slight dropping of the hips which will deepen the twist.
For many yogis, there’s a strong desire to skip past this two-footed version of Kouṇḍinyāsana and move to other flashier versions. But, if you stay and do the work it will make all of the variations of the posture more accessible and sound. In the words of Pattabhi Jois, “Practice and all is coming.”
Have a little fun this week opening the IT Band and playing with this pose. Follow this #PowerPose challenge @suzannewrightyoga on Instagram or at Suzanne Wright Yoga on Facebook. If you post your pictures or about your experience be sure to tag #PowerPose and @suzannewrightyoga.