To build a secure and loving home - the kind you really want to spend time in - the first thing you'll need is a solid foundation.
But oftentimes our mind has us enjoying the view from the top floor before the concrete has dried. This is a common approach to asana practice - students force and contort their bodies into an idealized shape without doing the requisite work. This leads to discomfort, pain and perhaps injury.
Practicing ahimsa on the mat is crucial if healing and greater vitality is your true motive for practicing asana.
If you care more about cultivating a lifelong practice that will nourish your body than enjoying a short-term gain, then begin by treating your body with kindness, consideration and respect.
This may mean spending more time in foundational poses in order to create greater space in the body. Doing so will allow you to safely go deeper in other asanas.
Integrating lower leg up the wall into your daily practice is is a great way to practice ahimsa on the mat. This pose leads to greater opening in the front side of the body, which prepares you for backbends, like urdhva dhanurasana, dhanurasana, ustrasana, and natarajasana.
Here's the pose, step by step.
Essence, anchor and strength
At Hale Pule we offer a simple framework for a sustainable approach to asana practice. A pose is broken down into three elements: essence, anchor and strength. Routinely approaching asana with an understanding of these components will support the healing flow of prana and allow for a practice that can be sustained throughout your life.
Essence - the intention of the pose.
The essence of lower leg up the wall is to lengthen the quads and the psoas in order to facilitate backbends.
Anchor - connection to the earth.
The anchor points are the knees, palms and balls of the feet.
Strength - muscular engagement for optimal alignment.
Press the top of the foot on the wall into the wall to engage the buttocks and hamstrings for strength and support
Lower leg up the wall - from the ground up
The spine should stay well extended and hands flat on the floor with level hips and pain-free knees. Use blocks under the hands if needed in order to maintain the spinal extension.
Common trouble spots
When the hips are twisted we loose the opportunity to lengthen through the quads and psoas. Keep hips level and even to maximize your effectiveness in the pose and avoid overstretching your lower back.