Asana of the Month: Newton's Cradle

“I connect to my centre and strengthen my foundation.”

In my previous incarnation as a massage therapist, I treated many people who came to me as a last resort to resolve pain in their bodies. Although the treatment was always unique to the individual and the story connected to the pain carried a different flavor, there was often a pattern in the way towards the solution: breath, re-connection to core, and increasing stability of the foundation and connection to the earth.

The gluteus medius group are an underused group of muscles on the side of our hips that attach to top of the pelvic bones (iliac crest) and the side of the leg bone (greater trochanter). These muscles are important postural muscles that stabilize not only the hips but contribute in maintaining proper alignment and pelvic stability in walking and running. Newton’s Cradle is an excellent way to strengthen the primary abductors of the hip.

Here’s how to get started:

1.  Begin from a standing position with your back against a wall and feet hip width apart. Leave a few inches between your heels and the wall.

2. Activate your pelvic floor and exhale to find your most stable standing forward bend. If the hands do not comfortably reach the ground with your legs straight, place them on yoga blocks, the seat of a chair or two equal stacks of books. Align hips directly over feet and shoulders over hands. Lengthen the spine and send the gaze forward.

3. Inhale while maintaining an active lengthening of the spine, lift the right leg out to the right side while imagining that you are lengthening the heel out from the hip socket. Move slowly and deliberately and avoid using momentum to lift the leg. Do your best to stay joint-stacked over your standing leg rather than leaning the body off to the left side.

4. Exhale while lowering the right leg to its starting position on the ground.

5. Repeat the process on the other side: inhale while lifting the left leg out to the left side, and exhale while lowering the left leg to its starting position on the ground.

6. Continue alternate movements with the flow of your breath. Complete 3-8 rounds.

 

Modifications:

Lift leg only so high as you can keep the back of the pelvis level with the floor.

This posture can also be done from table top position while lifting the leg with a bent knee.

Benefits:

    •    grounding
    •    improves posture, walking and running
    •    strengthens the abductors of the hips
    •    can decrease back and knee pain

Reflection:

Where can you soften to increase ease and flow in this posture?
How does this posture change if you initiate the movement from your centre?

 

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Julia Forest

Julia Forest is an international yoga teacher, women’s health advocate, writer and closet artist who is passionate about health, environmentalism and yoga. She feels most at home wherever she rolls out her mat and finds inner peace and connection from a daily meditation practice. She created the Yoga Leadership and Permaculture Program, the first yoga teacher training program that combines yoga, mindfulness, permaculture and leadership to transform lives and communities.

With more than a decade of teaching experience, Julia believes that yoga comes alive when practiced in every moment. She shares wholeheartedly the many blessings that yoga has brought to her life. Her passion for yoga, social change, connection and community has lead her to share holistic yoga teachings in many countries around the globe.