Pose of the Month: Pyramid Pose

This pose is recognizable for yogis and non-yogis alike. You can often spot this pose being done instinctively by runners and team sport players during their warm up. Pyramid Pose should be a staple for all who desire more open flexible hamstrings.

How to: Pyramid Pose

Start with your feet parallel about three to four feet apart. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees to point directly to the front of your mat. Turn the back foot in about 45 degrees. If you drew a line from the right heel back to the left foot, the heel would bisect the left foot. Firm your feet and feel a slight external rotation of each thigh.

Take a deep breath and elongate your spine. Put your hands on your hips and be sure to square the hips to the front of your mat, swinging the left hip forward and pressing the right thigh back. Start to fold your torso from the hips and over the right thigh. Keep folding over with a flat back until your back is parallel to the floor. Without rounding, bring your finger tips to the floor. Or if you cannot reach, stack blocks on each side of the right foot so your hands can rest comfortably.

With every inhale, elongate the back every exhale deepen the stretch. If your hamstrings allow, you can continue to fold with a flat back until someday your forehead touches your right shin. At the same time, you should be maintaining the strong feet, externally rotated thighs, long back and active core.

Stay for several breaths negotiating the hamstrings to open and elongate.

Benefits of Pyramid Pose

If done properly and consistently, there are many benefits to Pyramid Pose, including:

  • Calm the brain and flush the sinuses with mild inversion
  • Stretch the spine
  • Strengthen the legs and spine
  • Improve posture
  • Aid digestion
  • Elongate hamstrings

For the lay person, Pyramid Pose elongates the back and lengthens the hamstrings. Tight hamstrings for most people result in changes in the angle of the pelvis. When the pelvis tucks too much, it results in stress and strain on the back. It is a great habit for anybody and everybody to stretch the hamstrings to maintain a healthy back for life. When your back is aligned and strong, your gait and body are more at ease during your regular everyday routine. This is a very important point, since a united body creates less stress on all joints of the body, most particularly the vulnerable knee joint.

For the athlete, the need for open hamstrings includes the aforementioned, however their jobs often depend on flexibility of the legs. We know good posture and healthy joints are critical for longevity of athletes of all ages, but don't forget the golden rule of Power Yoga for Sports: Strength + Flexibility = Power on the field of play.

When an athlete not only focuses on the squats and lunges that fortify their legs but gives as much attention to the length of their muscles, the results are huge increases of power. So whether you are a soccer player who must run 8 to 9 miles a game and create forceful kicks or a basketball player who needs the agile moves of a cat and high-flying leaps, it is critical to your game to focus time and attention to your hamstrings.

Although you should always consult a physician and research a properly trained yoga teacher before starting a yoga practice, there are a few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely:

  • Recent back surgery

Have fun exploring this pose and learning about your body!

Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990.Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com.Gwen's unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience,coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy, nutrition and homeopathy, provide her clients, class participants and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, New York Rangers, several major college teams including Yale and YNC, and many youth teams in a variety of sports. She is also the official spokesperson for AFRIN PureSea and ambassador for Lululemon. Her writing appears in Men's Health, Women's Health , Fitness Magazine and shape.com. She has made appearances on NBC TODAY show and many TV news and national radio shows. Gwen also owns her own yoga school where she trains people to teach the Power Yoga for Sports system.. Visit her website at www.poweryogaforsports.com

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