strength

Plank pose

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Plank pose is more challenging than it looks, especially if one wants to hold the pose longer. One could aim for a minute and three sets. It’s also recommended to move forward and backward. I can imagine to integrate this asana in my daily practice. It builds strength in the shoulders. My upper arms could be a bit more parallel to the wall, but it’s also OK as it is. My body is straight, which is good. The poses feel differently than they look. Pictures help to adjust the asanas.

It’s easier to keep the body straight when the neck is in line with the body. I prefer looking to the floor than to the wall. These days I also keep my neck in line with the body when I do chaturanga dandasana, which is part of sun salutation. Some people have flexible necks, I don’t have a flexible neck. It’s a very sensitive part of the body. There is pressure on the neck when moving the head backwards. It’s more likely that the back arches when the head moves backwards. This is why I prefer the above version.

Plank pose is supposed to prepare pincha mayurasana. I can imagine this, because it strengthens the shoulders.

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One pose leads to the next. All sorts of asanas have easier versions and more demanding versions.

So glad that I practiced and explored new poses. After 90 minutes I was exhausted. Within 90 minutes one can do a lot. If one focuses on the 80 % relevant activities, if one doesn’t avoid the challenging parts, I’m sure progress comes fast. It’s great if one can enjoy an asana. This is the final goal. An asana is mastered when it feels good.

The gap between the plan and the performance

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Sometimes there is a gap between the plan and what happens on the mat. A plan can only be a guide. It’s not written in stone. My plan today was to do 3 sets with 5 repetitions of urdhva dhanurasana. In addition I wanted to hold urdhva dhanurasana at least once for 1 minute. This was simply not what my body could do today. The idea to work on strength is surely good. It’s also good to hold the body longer in order to give the body time to stretch into the pose. The insight is that I have to create a training that picks me up where I’m now and not where I want to be . To create tiny steps are a good strategy. Tomorrow I plan to do 3 sets with 2 repetitions of urdhva dhanurasana. This is much less. I also want to hold this pose for 1 minute.

In many yoga classes I saw yogis before urdhva dhanurasana lying on the back, waiting. To lift up into urdhva dhanurasana seemed so heavy. I observed myself doing the same. I lied there, I knew what I wanted to do, but it seemed undoable. I think I know now why this was so. To lift up into urdhva dhanurasana required strength. I was not strong enough and at the end of a practice my willpower was exhausted, too. This is why I want to focus also on strength these days.

Strength: To get with an inhale into urdhva dhanurasana and to get out with the exhaling and to repeat this several times is more or less a strength training. The arms and legs are challenged.

Flexibility: Staying in urdhva dhanurasana for a longer time (1 minute or 2 minutes) and walking the arms to the feet or the other way round is a stretching exercise.

Both is needed. Urdhva dhanurasana requires strength and flexibility. One can work on both skills separately as described above.

Also the right technique plays an important role. The hips shall support the movement. A deep inhaling helps enormously to get into the pose. To create length in the body is also very important.

The wall is my favorite prop when I work on urdhva dhanurasana. It gives me orientation when I lift myself up from the floor. The upper body moves towards the wall. I also drop back against the wall from a standing position. One day I’ll surely drop back again in the middle of the room. It’s not the time yet for this dynamic movement.

Progress can be felt.

The final goal is that it’s relaxing and joyful to perform this back bending asana. I’ve been there.