February 20, 2013

Visual Yoga Blog: The Drunken Paschimottanasana.

Every now and then I receive an email featuring drunk people passed out in what looks like yoga poses.

Recent converts to yoga discover it, are amused by it, and forward it to me… never imagining that their (teetotaling) yoga teacher has already received this about 37,000 times and counting.

It’s time for the yoga teacher to fire back with… drunken paschimottanasana:

The pose:

1. Sit as you would for the regular forward fold, but sit to the left of your mat.

2. Just to review the regular forward fold: (a) knees straight all the way; (b) lean forward and grab either a strap, as pictured, or hold your feet only if you can reach them effortlessly (c) be sure you’re keeping a straight spine and hinging not in the middle of your back (that’s called hunching, folks) but rather hinging at your hips.

3. Now tilt over onto your right, onto the mat. Do this slowly so as to land (kind of) softly on the mat.

4. Once you’re keeled over, keep the same structure to your body as when you were sitting up, including keeping your head off the mat so your neck remains in a straight line with your spine. If you find holding your neck like this too much, slip a yoga block or a thick book under your head so it stays even with your back.

5. Take five slow breaths in this position. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits: A different perspective on an old friend… and a way to relax your back and your hips without the (rather universal) tendency to yank yourself toward your feet. It’s like you’re drunk on your side, so how intensely could anyone expect you to be in this pose, right?

Avoid if: Your neck feels uncomfortable or uneasy holding your head off the floor (modify with the block or book; don’t just let it drop); or if you have sciatica and this pose aggravates it; or you have any issues with your shoulders or your spine where coming into this pose (that “clunk” point at which you keel onto your side) would not feel good or would jar a brittle bone or two.

Final thoughts: Coming in the heels of The Rockin’ Paschimottanasana, this is a great little pose that combines rest with dynamic engagement. Despite the “drunken” name, this isn’t a free pass for getting drunk for this pose–I don’t want to get 37,000 more emails, this time with a picture of you passed out on your mat.

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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

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