Yoga, Ayurveda and acro yoga in Budapest - classes, philosophy also in English

2010. október 17., vasárnap

Asana focus No. 2 - Parvatasana

Life is a constant learning. Do you also have the feeling with some asanas that they are just too easy, and it is hard to believe that they are powerful? Or, do you ever wonder, if a special pose is not even an asana just a slight modification of another posture?

Well, let me first post here a picture of the parvatasana, ‘mountain, or mountain peak’ pose as I was taught to perform it in Mysore by Bharath Shetty. Standing feet together, raise the arms up above the head, palms pressing together (version 1).
version 1

If you read the previous asana focus on tadasana you may also wonder, hm, the name is the same the pose is so similar. So does this small change deserves a new asana? Well, the devil lies in the details as we will see and we always learn.

First thing I had to discover, that this version is far from the final position. As Iyengar exposes it in Light on Yoga, Parvatasana is performed seated in padmasana (lotus) with the hands interlocked and turned out and up. Like this (final version):
final version of Parvatasana

But hey, padmasana can take years to learn, so beginners need a modification:
- Sitting in vajrasana (version 2), or if this is still to hard
version 2

- Standing upright (version 3)
version 3
 You may choose between two variations for the hands:
- hands pressing together, or
- interlocked.

In my experience keeping the palms together is slightly harder for the shoulder, because it makes it more difficult to pull the shoulder blades towards the coccyx. On the other hand, the second version works more on the wrists and the elbows: so you decide which one you need to work more.

But I would suggest everyone to start with the most basic variation, which is version 1. This variation shows already the main focus of this asana: stretching the shoulders and lifting the chest. This is the main difference compared to tadasana. Observe in the same time that while your whole body is reaching up, your shoulders want to sink down. You are almost flying off the ground (Check yourself! Between us, don’t you feel like lifting the heels up like a ballet dancer?). But the shoulder blades are pulling you back to the earth, the are counterbalancing the lifting effect. Also if you consciously pull them backwards you can create more space around the ears and feel the stretch more in the neck.  Otherwise your arms will almost cover the ears and instead of feeling the opening, you will experience closure and stress. Some yoga poses are about closing, but not this one.  And especially at the beginning it is better to focus on the main aspect of an asana, later you can get into the more subtle details.

What does happen internally when you do this stretch? We have seen the impact on the shoulder which makes this pose an effective way of preventing and relieving rheumatic pain and arthritis in the shoulder and it also helps to get rid of the stiffness in the area. Just don’t forget, stress often goes into the shoulders and the neck and the upper back.  This pose also helps to cure the carpal tunnel syndrome, especially by the exercise it gives to the hands and the arms, the main area of this illness so typical of the modern homo computerus.

You can also see the big opening in the chest and that the abdomen is pulled upwards. In tadasana you are more likely to use abdominal breathing which makes that pose more meditative. But here, as you pull up the abdomen and stick out the chest, chest breathing will naturally occur. This means your oxygen intake will grow, the stretch will boost your circulation, more blood will get into the brain and you will feel refreshed. Isn’t it funny? The body is so intelligent. I remember when I was a university student and after sitting long hours in the library, once I stopped, I started to stretch my arms just like this: opening my chest, taking a deep breath.

By the uplifting movement the abdominal organs  also get a nice stretch which helps to relieve constipation, and to prevent and cure visceroptosis, a prolapse or a sinking of the internal organs.

Wow, such a gentle stretch is so powerful. I am surprised. I think it is so easy to perform, that you could do it many times a day wherever and whenever. Be inspired.

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