Finding optimal ways of taking weight into our hands, was a theme on a morning workshop here at Harrogate Yoga a few days ago. Ultimately our aim was to have integrity of alignment in poses such as Ardha Vasisthasana, Vasisthasana and ‘Belly of the Dragon.’
The morning began with breath awareness and some simple warming up exercises. Then students worked in pairs in an exercise that simulates the ‘yield and push pattern’ – described in my previous blog Acorns to Oak Trees. The exercise clarifies pathways of force from the peripheries of the body through centre and towards the periphery of the body on the opposite diagonal. Generally, it’s easier in this exercise, to find clear pathways in the lower limbs than the uppers but the principle is the same – if the pathway is not clear, then energy cannot travel through and once weight bearing, there can be damage to the joints over time.
We then checked out the feel of weight travelling through upper limbs from the hand through arm to shoulder.
We looked at a picture of the bones of the hand and traced the bones in our own hands. When flexing a hand we noticed how the capitate bone – the keystone of the transverse arch of the hand – could be observed as a little bump in the back of the hand.
On all fours we looked at our hands and aimed to align the phalanges (fingers) with the metacarpals. We did this as a means towards stability, as oppose to the common instruction given in a yoga class ‘to spread the fingers wide’. When the hands bear weight, they are less stable when the fingers are spread wide. On this theme we noticed if our little fingers had a tendency to ‘wing’ out of alignment from the fifth metacarpal. When the little finger wings out, it can contribute to hyper-extension of the elbow. If the elbow is hyper-extending, the arm bones will not be in healthy alignment – force cannot travel through the arm and the elbow joint may be harmed over time when weight bearing.
Once everyone had learned how to align their upper limbs in a weight bearing pose, we put all the information together in a dynamic series of asana, finishing with the coup de theatre – The Flying Dragon Sequence!
Click this link to view The Flying Dragon Sequence on a beach in the land of the Dragon!
And watch the video below:
Have fun with your Flying Dragon practice! (originally devised by Paul and Suzee Grilley)