Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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Posts Tagged ‘active pose’

Hang It Like A Ragdoll

Posted by terrepruitt on March 13, 2014

There is a move I do often at the end of my Nia Classes. I learned it as the Ragdoll Pose in yoga. Some say it is just a variation on the Uttanasana or the Forward Fold. Since it is a standing pose where you bend over I can see that. But the Forward Fold is a very active pose. You are using other muscles, you are actively lengthening your spine. Whereas in my classes, the move we do as the Ragdoll pose is just a hang. The idea is to hang, ya know, like a rag doll.

After all the movement we do in a cardio dance exercise class where moving your entire body is the key, it is nice to just hang around for a bit.  This pose made my list of favorite yoga poses but is not one of my sixteen favorites.  Kinda surprised me.

With the Ragdoll, as I said the idea is to hang like a rag doll folded over at the hips.  Your body goes limp.  Your arms can hang.  Your shoulders and hang.  Everything just hangs.  Legs can be straight or bent at the knee.  It is a relaxation pose so doing it to your optimum comfort is advised.  Let the weight of your head help lengthen and stretch your back and spine.  So you are not actively lengthening or straightening, it all comes from the weight of the head.  Even if you are resting you forearms on your thighs you are hanging.

One way that people do this pose is with the arms hanging overhead, but bent at the elbows.  The forearms are folded together allowing the hands to hold the opposite elbow.  This variation is just like the bent knees and/or the arms — or even hands — on the thighs, it is up to the individual at the time of the pose.

Bending over or doing an inverted pose is good for the systems in your body.  Such as the circulatory system, turning upside down helps blood flow which helps the respiratory system.  The lymphatic system is assisted by inversions which stimulates the body’s immune system.

It seems as if the body enjoys the break from the normal pull of gravity and it likes to be upside down every once in a while.  Calms the nerves, heightens the sense, and brings a little peace.  Only when done reasonably comfortable.  Poses should not be held if they cause pain or dizziness.  So when you are in any pose especially and inversion stay only as long as it is comfortable.

To me, the Ragdoll is one of those comfortable poses.  Usually just fold over and hanging.  But I do remember at least once when my neck was not aligned properly so the full on hang did not feel good, but bending my knees and resting on my thighs was the ticket.  Always remember that you do a pose for the moment you are in at the moment you are doing it.  So yesterday all the way down might have been the way, but maybe today it is not.  Do what your body wants in the moment.

Enjoy the weight of the head and the arms.  Let it stretch your spine and bring space into your back.  Hang as a rag doll would.

Do you like the Ragdoll pose?  Do you like inversions?  Which ones are your favorite?

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Standing Still

Posted by terrepruitt on February 23, 2013

Just as there are specific moves in Nia (Nia’s 52 Moves), there are different asanas or poses in yoga.  There is an asana (pose) in yoga that is standing still, but it is called Mountain Pose.  In Sanskrit, what I think of as the language of yoga, it is Tadasana.  While this pose is a still pose and the body is standing erect, it is an active pose.  The body is not just upright and relaxed, there are muscles engaged and energy moving.  It is more than likely that there is no straining involved and one might look relaxed and even feel relaxed yet there is more than just standing there happening.  Mountain Pose is an active pose often used as a transitional pose.  Yet can stand on its own, no pun intended.

In Tadasana toes touch and feet are parallel.  Of course, as with many things, there are many variations, and people have their own way of doing them.  In this post in the pose our toes touch, feet are parallel forming a stable base.  For some the heels might need to be fanned out a bit or feet may need to be separate.  The goal is to have a stable base so adjust the feet as necessary in order to ensure stability.  One way to assist with stability is to relax your feet allowing the toes to spread.  Imagine your feet becoming wide and open.  The feet do not grip the earth, they spread out.  Weight is evenly distributed.  Take time to sense all points of the feet.

The ankle joints remain open.  The shins and calves are rooted into the floor.  The knees are not locked, yet they sense stability because the quadriceps are reaching up lifting the knee caps.  The thighs are turned ever-so-slightly in.  The buttocks are lifted yet there is no arching in the lower back.  The belly (abdominals) are engaged.  The spine is long.

With the crown of your head reach for the sky, lengthening the entire back.  Keep the chin parallel to the earth and your head in alignment with your chest, hips, knees, and feet.  Shoulders are gently pulled back with shoulder blades down, the chest does not stick out, yet the sternum is presented up allowing the collar bones to open wide.  Arms are along the side of the body, not hanging, not touching the body, not rigid, but active.  Hands are active with fingers gently fanned open.

Energy is moving up allowing for the lengthening of the entire body, yet there is a sense of being rooted and stable.  As I mentioned this pose is often used as a transition.  You might see it performed in between standing poses.  It is perfect to reset the body in order to correctly move into another position.  It can also be used as a resting pose.  Even though it is an active pose, it still can be a rest for the body.

As you can tell, if you got up to try it, this is not a passive pose.  There is a lot of muscle engagement, so maybe you can see why this pose could be practiced on it’s own and not just used as a transition.  It is not just standing still, it is a strong, stable pose, like a mountain.

So if you didn’t already do it, are you ready?  Get up and try it!

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