I don’t know why I put certain poses together in my mind – perhaps it is indicative of my novice status. I don’t fully understand how each pose is effecting me or how one transitions to the other. Camel Pose and Rabbit Pose are purposefully done one after the other and are complimentary. Eagle Pose and Toe Stand are two balancing poses, no where near each other in the sequence, one that I find easy, the other that I do not.
Eagle Pose or Garurasana strengthens the upper and lower body and, obviously, helps improve balance. For me, is always a good indicator of how well I have been breathing to that point. If I have to cheat, and breathe through my mouth, I know I have been holding my breath in class and need to focus on that more. The act of wrapping my arms around each other like ropes almost creates a cage around my lungs, making it hard for them to expand. If I have been doing a good job of it up to this point, I can use my 80/20 breathing here, and I am OK. If not, Eagle Pose lets me know. As I have strengthened my knees, I am able to sit deeper in to the pose and, as my teacher says, be the shortest one in the class.
Toe Stand or Padangustasana – which I am doing in the picture above – has always been harder for me. However, getting in to it today, I was able to hold the pose in its full expression for a long time. I wonder if the prospect of looking at myself in the mirror was intimidating. Here, I more in my head than usual and with that concentration and meditation (even with my friend taking pictures) I held the pose ten times longer than I have before. I was also in a climate controlled room – not a sauna (AKA Bikram class). Toe stand is meant to build concentration, patience, balance and focus. Core strength is very important for this pose as it is what really allows you to balance properly, whereas I find with Eagle Pose that I am relying more on the strength in my legs – mainly my thighs.
While both poses require you to balance on one foot, doing them one after the other made me realize how different they are. Eagle pose is much more restrictive – you feel the release when you get out of position. However Toe Stand is opening. I can see why it is the last of the standing series and is done immediately prior to your first Savasana. It is much more meditative/calming and prepares you well to transition to the floor.
Wondering why my photos are always in odd places? I can’t bring a camera in to my yoga classes but my work colleagues are more than willing to be photographers. Hence: me + Flatiron locations = photos for the site.
Namaste – and happy Friday!