Open Your Back & Knees in Bhekasana From Ashtanga Yoga Second Series
The two areas of the body that bring up the a lot of fear are the back and the knee. If you feel pain around your spine or your lower back there is a nearly instant response of fear. The same goes for when there is a sharp sensation around the knee. Rightfully so as injury in these areas is often hard to heal with very damaging results in the body. Bhekasana is an intense backbending and knee-bending posture from the Second Series of Ashtanga Yoga that will challenge your limits for you know as possible with these two areas of your body.
This is one of these postures that didn't make sense to me when I first started practicing it. I can still remember the feeling of wondering if I was doing it safely to prevent damage to my knees and lower back. Now after many years of practice I can say that Bhekasana is not only a safe posture, but also a therapeutic one when done with proper alignment. Start with a conscious internal rotation of the thighs to help release the sacrum and the piriformis. Then be sure to widen you thighs so that there is space for you knee to bend as close to parallel as possible. Let your leg fold as effortlessly as possible into the internal rotation so that it feels light and free. Then take hold of your foot with begin activating the quadriceps and lift the knees slightly off the floor and aim the toes towards the ground. Stop pressing if you feel sharp pain in your knee.
One of the greatest difficulties that many students experience in this posture is the ability to have the chest lifted while pressing firmly down on the feet. Strengthening the mid-back is crucial to finding the power to support the upper body and give enough pressure to place the feet on the ground. Keep practicing and over time you'll find the perfect balance!
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