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Leg & knee placement/alignment in straddle

 
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Kimberly Bortnick



Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:24 am    Post subject: Leg & knee placement/alignment in straddle Reply with quote

Hi Bernie,
In Dragonfly, legs wide open in a V shape, do you keep the legs somewhat engaged? So as not to let the legs rotate inwards towards the floor?
I am a bit uncomfortable teaching "turning off the leg muscles" here, and often have students do it facing the wall so their feet touch the wall & feet & knees stay in alignment, but they can relax the bigger leg muscles.
I have had one teacher say, no just let the legs soften & "go where they will" in essence. Your thoughts?
Cheers
Kimberly B.
Nelson, NZ
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1021
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:07 am    Post subject: Relax the legs in Dragonfly (Straddle) Reply with quote

Hi Kimberly

Lets start at the beginning: what is your intention? Why would you want someone to be in this pose? Depending upon your answer (your intention) you may want the legs engaged (the quadriceps specifically) but you also may want to just let everything soften. In the yang world this pose is known as upavistakonasana and it is often taught with the leg muscles engaged, the knees and feet pointing straight up and the spine straight. This creates a very deep external rotation for the hip sockets, but it is a very muscular pose. In Yin Yoga we try to go past the muscles, so we relax as much as we can. As your teacher said, let the legs go where they go! That also applies to the feet too. Why are you concerned about that?

If your intention in Dragonfly (aka Straddle) is to stress the adductors, and to a lesser degree the hamstrings, then we would want the leg muscles relaxed so the stress can soak into the fascia of these muscle groups. There is no need to engage the muscles as that will take stress off the fascia. (See this explanation as to why we want to relax muscles in Yin Yoga postures.) However, for some people, the stress of this pose can tug too much on the inner ligaments of the knee (the medial collateral ligaments.) If pain arises here (and anything sharp or burning would be considered pain, but dull achy sensations are okay) then the student can either engage the quadriceps to tighten the knees and reduce the stress ont he ligaments or simply narrow the width of the legs. Personally I prefer to narrow the legs slightly because engaging the muscles for the whole length of time that you are in the pose can be problematic.

In general, in Yin Yoga we do turn off the muscles so that the stress of the pose soaks deeper. But, never is never right and there may be times for certain students to keep some engagement. Remember you intention and have the student pay attention.

I hope this answers your question
Cheers
Bernie
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Kimberly Bortnick



Joined: 19 Jul 2013
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bernie',
Thank you for your response on leg/knee placement in straddle.
Yes, intention is everything. I do it to stress the inner thighs & hamstrings.
I was mostly concerned about the knees. letting the quads relax, allowing the knees & feet to rotate inward, towards the mat a bit, is OK, as long as there is no pain, burning? I was corrected in the pose,instructed to keep my toes & knees pointing up, even though I was fully relaxed & enjoying the stretch.
So, essentially 2 different teachers instructing 2 different ways. But, perhaps two different intentions as well.
Cheers
Kimberly
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1021
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:50 am    Post subject: Different Intentions Reply with quote

Yes - definitely two different intentions. In the Ashtanga practice we want to engage the muscles to strengthen and lengthen them. In the Yin practice we are targeting different tissues so we relax the muscles. However, in the Yin practice IFF the knees are complaining, then engaging the quads could be a good idea or just move the legs a little closer together.

Cheers
Bernie
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