One of the most strong, intricate poses of the Bowspring practice- I use this as my base; the place where I usually begin, and from where I find so many sweet transitions.
a conceptual structure or entity on which something draws or depends.
have as the foundation for (something); use as a point from which (something) can develop.
synonyms: found, build, construct, form, ground, root
Breaking down Crouching Cat:
From all fours (hands and knees), with a full, radiant heart- hands pressing strongly down into the mat to fill into the upper back, tuck the toes and lift the knees to crouching cat.
Hands as wide as the mat, pinky fingers graze the outside edge of the mat to give yourself some space.
(Elemental and Level 1) Feet as wide as the mat (at a beginner level- this helps the student to open the pelvic floor and aids in developing the natural curvature of the lumbar spine).
(Level 2 and 3) Feet hip distance apart. This assumes that the student can engage through the paw into the glutes, find the natural curvature of their lower lumbar spine with radiant heart, and can then work with extending through the posterior chain of the leg- as though the bones are pushing into the fascia to lengthen.
Knees bend a lot and energetically/isometrically push outward, hips rise to the sky. Rooting down with the paws of the feet (paws: toe pads and mounds). Paws, like sponges, connect deeply to the mat- pressing down and energetically outward to find an engagement all through the posterior chain into the glutes.
Drop the heels toward the ground to facilitate a lengthening of the posterior chain of the leg. Pulse here- keeping a bend in the knee and hips elevated.
Hands- hollow the middle of the palm, as though a lady bug was sitting on the mat right in the center of your palm. Thumb palm and pinky palm energetically pull together to engage into the arm. (The thumb side is connected to the bicep which is more easily engaged. The pinky side is connected to the triceps, which is typically more challenging to find engagement into. Eventually, we can learn this subtle engagement through mindful, intentional movements and linking the brain to the body.) Fingers are separated not so far, only about a pinky finger distance apart. Finger pads grip the mat, intentional, strong, and engaged.
Elbows externally rotate forward so that the elbow armpits face inward toward each other. This sets the shoulders up for proper alignment, allowing for you to find a full radiant heart.
Once the alignment is found- push the mat away- fill into the back, shoulder blades spread.
Maintaining radiant heart on all sides- a circumferential opening- all sides expanding- front, back, and side ribs. When we lose radiant heart, the energy will feel heavy, deflated, lacking buoyancy and lightness.
Top of the head reaches forward- chin lifted, and throat open… Keeping the central channel long and strong; hips root back as heart and head stretch forward. As Desi would say (and as I now say), “Don’t crimp the tube, dude.” Soft belly… with expanded engagement- finding tonus through the fascial connection.
Let’s talk about the hollows…
- Feet: center of the paw, and top, front ankle hollow.
- Knees: back of knee is hollowing inward.
- Hips: groins hollow. Narrow the knees to open the pelvic floor, this will allow the groins to hollow some more.
- Hands: center of the palm, inside of wrist, and outer wrist hollow.
- Elbow: elbow armpits hollow. I find that utilizing a micro bend in the elbow eliminates the tendency for malalignment in the elbow into the shoulder.
- Shoulders: Armpits hollow.
When I am finding the hollows, I imagine putting on a fascia suit… like a wet suit, all parts learning to cling and engage a little more closely.
And then find the pulse- bend into knees sending hips back, extend hips up with each extension, heels weight toward the mat to extend through the backline of the leg. Paws keep pushing down and outward energetically to engage the whole posterior chain. Top of the head and heart stretch forward- imagining the neck and belly stretching long and strong. Hands keep pushing the mat away to keep full and radiant in the heart and rib space. The bow pulse- Rooting to find the rise.
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