Standing tall creates a “majesty” to our being. Standing tall builds confidence. Lengthening the leg muscles, joints and pointing the toes, frees the tightness which restricts oxygenated blood from flowing into the extremities. Lengthening each leg with assistance of a strap wrapped around the ball of the foot using the wall for support, gradually releases tightness from the hips through the toes.
Yoga utilizes “body weight” and slow movement to gradually allow tight muscles to lengthen. As leg muscles grow stronger by doing this lengthening posture with a strap wrapped around the ball of the foot on an extended straight forward leg, muscular definition is developed along with full body coordination. Standing tall uses the legs and feet to stabilize an upright position.
So, lets awaken the mind to train the body in leg extensions with the assistance of a strap and wall. In the picture, YMCA Yoga practitioners Beth, Royal, Meredith, Bonnie, Gary, Roberta and Lara demonstrate how to wrap the strap around the ball of the foot, lengthening the entire leg as well as elongating the back and tightening the core. This pose is a pathway to improve balance through stabilized hips.
To begin the pose, stand flat against a wall. Lift one leg straight forward. Be sure to take as much length out of the strap when wrapping it around the ball of the foot to allow the toes to point forward using the resistance of the strap. Lift the leg holding onto the strap. Place the free hand flat against the wall keeping it close to the hips. As you lift the leg, keep it as straight as possible and press out through the heel and toe. The knee may not want to straighten, so keep gently working on lengthening it. Notice as you trade legs, which one is tighter and then analyze how you are sitting for long periods or crossing legs that restricts blood flow and tightens muscles.
As you practice the pose, work on keeping the back flat and straight against the wall with level shoulders, not tilted. Once you have trained the leg to gradually lengthen, hold the pose for 3 minutes. Slowly lower the leg by first bending the knee and placing it on the floor. Repeat on the other leg.
Yoga employs various props to assist in strengthening the extremities that tones muscles and joint structures. When you practice standing yoga poses, your weight shifts challenging your feet and leg muscles to keep you upright and stable. It also helps to build muscular definition to prevent injury and improve full-body coordination.
In yoga poses, every muscle is challenged to adjust to correct alignment from head to toe. Standing poses create a foundation for balance as the mind stays focused inward, visualizing the pose then creating it in the body. Holding poses challenges both the muscles and your mind as you breathe deeply and smoothly. Learn to hold poses in proper form is key to making progress. As you gradually improve, the posture becomes straighter and you walk with more powerful legs.
A daily yoga practice will tone the entire body and sharpen the mind. You will discover peace and serenity when doing yoga as you think only of what you are performing. The world passes as you calmly initiate the healing, healthy yoga lifestyle. Keep moving forward slowly and you will reap rewards beyond your present reality.