Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

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Posts Tagged ‘Gate pose’

Balancing Like A Cat

Posted by terrepruitt on November 20, 2014

Ok, not really, but it seems as if many of us are always seeking balance.  Balance in our diets.  Balance in our lives between work and play.  Balancing our budgets.  Balance between saying yes and saying no.  Balance within the body between all of the delicate (yet amazingly strong) systems.  There is a lot in our lives that require the act of or the state of balance.  In Nia we practice balance a lot, in all of the realms:  physical/body, mental/mind, emotional/emotions, spiritual/spirit.  Yoga practices that balance too.  When I ask the students in gentle yoga what they would like to focus on, they often say balance. When we think of balancing or when we think of balance poses we might think of standing poses, but not all balance poses are standing poses.  I’ve already posted about the Gate pose in my post titled Finding Balance In The Gate.  That pose is done on one knee and one foot.  There is also the Extended Cat pose or Utthita Marjaryasana.  That is a great balance pose.

One of the reasons Utthita Marjaryasana is such a great balance pose is that being so close to the ground and being on two limbs helps alleviate the fear of falling.  Yet it is a balance pose.  The two sides of the body have to work together.  This pose is done on one hand and one knee, the opposite hand from the knee.  We are using opposing limb extension to create a situation in which we need to balance.  So if extending left foot, you extend right hand.  If extending right foot you extend left hand.

This pose starts on the hands and knees.  Often times I have my students start on JUST their knees with their body upright and their thighs lengthened.  I like for them to position their knees directly under their hip joints.  I also want them to see their thigh bones perpendicular to the floor.  When they come down onto their hands I want that 90° angle to remain in the knee joint.  So with knees directly under the hip joint and the knee bent at a 90° angle we are on our hands and knees.  The wrist are directly under the shoulder joint, palms on the earth.  The spine is in neutral position.

In our example we will use the left foot and right hand.  Extend the left foot back with the ball of foot on the floor, raise the right arm bringing the hand in front of you to shoulder height.  Use the “karate chop” position, so the side of the hand is towards the floor with the thumb side to the sky.  Then move your foot so you are only balancing on your big toe.  Then, if you are able, use your glutes to lift your leg keeping it in the straight position.  Your leg is stretched out behind you, your foot is flexed.  Gently reach with your heel away from your extended hand.  Gently reach with your extended hand and the crown of your head away from your extended foot.

The hips remain squared to the floor.  One reason we slowly move the leg into the lift position is to ensure that the hips remain facing the floor.  The top of the foot, along with, the knee faces the floor.  The ankle, the knee, and the hip are aligned.  I prefer the foot that is on the supporting leg to be top-of-foot on the floor.  But you can curl your toes and be on ball of foot.

It also might help during your set up to bring the supporting hand in a little towards the heart center.  It should still be even with the shoulder joint; not higher or lower, but it can be toward the center if that gives you more stability.

This is a balance pose so if you looking at one spot on your mat it helps.  Also remember to breathe.

Once you are comfortable with the pose and can balance on opposing limbs the foot can be lifted off of the floor without going through the steps of “ball of foot” to toe positions.

This pose engages the core, the arms, and the legs.  It is great pose to activate the stabilizing muscles.

Do you do the Extended Cat Pose in your practice?

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Working On My Favorite Yoga Poses

Posted by terrepruitt on March 4, 2014

There are a lot of yoga poses.  Especially since a lot of them I know are the modification of the actual pose.  Some of these modifications seemed to have morphed into their own pose with their own name.  In addition to teaching Nia in San Jose, I am now teaching Gentle Yoga.  And I was thinking.  I wanted to make a list of my favorite poses.  I was thinking I could have a list and do them every day.  But it turns out that I like a lot more than I was thinking.  And some I don’t like at all.  And some I look at the picture and guffaw, saying, “Yeah, right?”  Anyway I came up with about 38 poses that I really like, ones that I would call my favorite.  I have a feeling that I am forgetting a couple too so I bet my list could really be in the 40’s.  I could do over 40 poses a day, but I would rather do less and repeat a handful of poses then just work my way through all of my favorites.  So then I circled ones that I would like to do every day and I ended up with 16.  I was thinking I could do those 16 every day.  But then I realized that while I will probably do that every once in a while I would be better off just picking some from the list everyday.  Whatever strikes my fancy.  I feel that if I pick a group every day I will end up getting the exact practice I need for that day.  It could end up being my favorite 16 of the favorites.

I do feel that my “favorites” for the day will end up being exactly what I need.  I plan to post about some of my favorites.  Working my way through the list.  I have already posted a few of them.  One of my favorites that I have posted about is the Gate Pose.  This is a balance pose but it is done on a knee and an extended leg.  Not all balance poses are done standing.  This is a pose that helps with stabilization, strength and flexibility.

Another favorite with a post is the Locust Pose.  I REALLY like this pose.  This is one that I do extremely modified.  I mean I’ve seen the locust pose where most of the yogi’s body is off the ground and they are resting on just their sternum, upper shoulders, and their chin.  That doesn’t even look comfortable to me.  I prefer the belly-on-the-earth-with-the-head, chest, arms, and legs-lifted-off-the-ground version.  This is a whole body pose.  Not only on my favorite list but on the favorite 16!

I also like the Sphinx.  This is another backbend, but with this one we rest on the forearms and elbows.  Another pose that made my list is another back bend, the Cobra.  This one to me is more of a lift using the back.  And another backbend – the Updog – made the list.  Updog and Cobra sometimes look the same in demonstration – depending on who is demonstrating.  Be sure to check out my posts to see the difference.  I use Patrick Reynolds’ video to explain the difference.   I think of Up Dog more like a hanging backbend.  The only backbend that made my top 16 was the Locust Pose.

The Garland Pose made my list of favorites and the top 16.  This is a position I try to find myself in every day.  Even if I am not doing yoga or any type of practice, I will put myself in this posture to pick up something.  I think that this pose is a great way to help keeps hips bones healthy and juicy.  Also pushing up from this squat is good for the legs.

So I have already posted about a few of my favorite poses.  So I will continue to explore and share with you.

What is your favorite yoga pose?  Why is it your favorite?

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Finding Balance In The Gate

Posted by terrepruitt on September 14, 2013

In Nia we have the five sensations that we dance and move with. I always feel that one of them is a personal favorite of one of the co-founders of The Nia Technique. I think that Debbie Rosas really loves stability. I imagine she loves them all because she does a superb job of ensuring they are all included in a each Nia Routine, but sometimes I just get this feeling that practicing balance is her favorite. It could be because sometimes stability, being balanced, requires flexibility and/or agility and/or mobility and/or strength. So you can practice and play with all of the five sensations when practicing balance. In yoga there is at least three of the five sensations we experience in Nia. In yoga there is flexibility and/or strength and/or stability/balance. In the Gentle Yoga class I am teaching I really like to put a huge emphasis on balance. I think balance is very important and yoga is a great way to practice it. There are many poses in yoga that are balance poses. Not all of them are standing poses.

One pose I really like to use for enhancing balance is the Gate pose. This pose is a kneeling pose, somewhat.

In the gentle yoga class we start on our knees. Up off our calves, as in we are not sitting on our legs. Then we lean forward and over to one side, say the left. We lean forward to the left placing both our hands on the ground in front of the left knee. Then we swing our right leg out so it is pointed out to the side. The heel of the right foot is aligned with the left knee or slightly in front. The right foot is flat on the ground and the toes are pointed away from the body. We then lift up so we are kneeling on our left leg with our right leg posed out to the right of our body. Then the left arm comes up reaching straight over the head. Palm towards the right. The right hand is palm up resting on the right thigh. If stability and balance is achieved then those that are comfortable lean over to the right, allowing the right hand to rest lower on the leg, at the shin, not the knee. If comfortable we turn the head to gaze past our left arm. All the while the crown of the head is moving away from our body and the tail is moving in the opposite direction. We are lengthening our spine. The shoulders are being drawn back and down. Even though one arm is up we still keep the space between the ear and the shoulder open and large. The same with the side we are leaning towards.

(11/08/21: Click Gate, Locust – Pictures May Help for a picture.)

Whether you are staying up right or leaning over to the side, keep your body from leaning forward. Stay in the pose for a few breaths. After you perform this pose on one side, do the other.

Parighasana, the Gate pose, is a nice way to pursue balance.  The foot that is out can be adjusted to a parallel (to the body) position if that allows it to be more comfortable or stable.  Or the foot can be lifted leaving just the heel on the ground.  The depth of the side bend is always a point that can be adjusted for the individual’s needs at the moment.

I love all the poses in yoga that allow for balance practice.  I think this is a great post with which to practice balance.

Are you familiar with the Gate pose?  Do you like this pose?

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