Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chair Warriors

As I’ve progressed through the end of the second trimester and into my third, I’ve noticed increased soreness in my hips. Some of this is due to weight gain and some to the loosening of my connective tissue as my body produces more of the hormone relaxin. This hormone “relaxes” (hence the name, I assume), or softens, ligaments and tendons so that there more room for a certain some one to pass through my pelvis at the end of August. This loosening deserves special attention because it is much easier to dislocate the joints during exercise and stretching—it seems like hip openers should become much easier (and they do), but care should be taken so you don’t over do it.

A simple way to modify poses so that you can enjoy the hip-opening benefits of standing asana, is to use a chair. You can get your legs in the proper positions, but your hip joints no longer support the whole weight of the torso. The leg muscles still get a mighty stretch in Virabhadrasana I, II (Warriors 1 and 2), you can lengthen the side ribs and spine, and you can hold the pose for awhile without getting as tired. Hip, hip hooray, right?

Warrior 1, with a chair
Straddle a lightweight-but-sturdy folding chair, so that the back of your right thigh is resting on the seat of the chair. Bend your knee and place your foot so that the heel is directly below the knee. Extend the left leg behind you and turn the foot slightly out so that you can press your sole into the floor. Adjust your position on the chair so that the hips are square (hip bones—if you can still find them—are even) to the side of the chair and the pelvis is level. Stretch the arms overhead and interlock the fingers, if that is comfortable. If you get light-headed with the arms overhead, cross the arms at the lower back or bring your hands into the Namaste position behind your back to get a nice chest opener. Really focus on pressing the back of the left leg back and grounding evenly through the left foot to work the leg muscles. Keep the shoulders away from the ears. Then repeat on the left side.

Warrior 2 with a chair
Position yourself on the chair as before, but this time square the hips to the front of the chair, as in Warrior 2. The right knee is bent with the foot firmly planted and the left leg extends out to the side with the foot slightly turned in so you can rest the sole evenly on the floor. Line up your shoulders with your hips and your head with your tailbone. Lengthen the side ribs. From here, extend the arms to either side and turn the head to look over the right hand. As you hold the pose, keep extending the arms and lengthening the spine with each exhale. Repeat on the left side.
©Brenda K. Plakans. All Rights Reserved

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