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Monday, November 17, 2008

The Stretch of the Month: Balanced Warrior

November's Stretch of the Month challenges your balance and builds your strength so you become a Balanced Warrior! This pose will improve your posture and help you cultivate energy into your core center. You will strengthen your abdominals, legs, shoulders, back, and stretch the hamstrings. This is a strenuous pose, so make sure you do an adequate warm up before trying it out. Afterwards you should feel strong, lengthened, and have renewed energy!

-Stand in a neutral position. Slightly bend your knees and send your arms up by your ears. Engage your abdominals by drawing your navel in towards your spine.
-Shift weight into your right foot and draw the left knee in toward the chest. Hinge at the hips to slightly tip the upper body forward as your left leg extends back behind you off the floor. Try to straighten the legs simultaneously.
-Your arms are still by your ears with your body parallel to the floor, creating a T position with the entire body (you are balancing on your right leg). The left leg should be extended back directly in line with the pelvis.
-To maintain an internal rotation of the left leg make sure the left inner thigh is reaching up to the ceiling, the foot is flexed like you're standing against the wall behind you, and the toes are directed down to the floor.
-Check that your hips are squared off (the left side of the pelvis might need to drop down as the right side lifts up). In order to keep your right knee from hyper-extending you might also keep a slight bend in the right knee.
-Make sure your shoulder blades are sliding down the back away from your ears and that the back of the neck is lengthened.
-Balance here for 5 deep breaths and gently release. Now try it on the other side!

Modifications: "What If..."

"I can't balance in this position" -Place the back of a chair in front of you to hold with both hands as you pitch forward.

"I need more of a challenge" -Try different arm positions like 1) arms out in a T position like you're flying 2) hands in a prayer position at your chest 3) with a spinal twist, left arm down to ground & right arm reaching up to the ceiling.

"I have pain in my back" -Make sure your lumbar spine is lengthening. Slightly move your tailbone in toward your pubic bone and re-engage through the abdominals by pulliing the navel in towards the spine.

There are several variations of Warrior poses. All of them will energize you, promote balance and good posture. Make sure you're practicing the variation that's most appropriate for you with proper form by stopping by my Stretch class!