On the physical side of my yoga practice, I've recently been paying close attention to two particular anatomical areas: the spine and the core; both are essential for many basic as well as more challenging asanas.
Because of my tight hamstrings (yep, after almost six years, they are not loosening up! I guess I still sit in front of my computer a lot, like NOW!) and hips, my lower back/spine tends to round a lot when taking any form of forward bend. The only exception will be when I'm doing the cross-legged forward bend (see pic) because this doesn't stretch my hamstrings at all (with legs crossed) and I can actually go quite deep in this pose, especially if I move one foot way forward (so basically my forehead can touch my toes).
|Note the straight back|
During today's two-hour practice (which was very Zen), I stopped forcing my body down in a standing forward bend/fold but instead I tried to keep my spine straight and extended (i.e. keeping it healthily lengthened); so I micro-bent my legs just to go a bit deeper without pulling my spine. Think that is important, esp to avoid potential back injuries. Also, asanas are not about how they look but what they actually DO to the body.
I've also been working my "core", which is, in very layman's terms, the tissues/muscles underneath the abs. I've been trying to build my core strength for years now and I think I'm slowly getting there (I can gauge its strength by the duration/how long I can remain upside in inversion poses such as headstand and handstand). Having a strong core simply props your entire body up, which I think is crucial for better posture. So, yes, I am trying to work my core every week so it can stay strong and I can stay upright, whether I'm standing up or sitting up or upside down!
Have been giving some more thoughts on what to do about my end-of-year/beginning-of-year yoga retreat(s) ...and have decided to skip a local workshop as well as a trip down-under to save up for a, I hope, fruitful retreat in Koh Samui ... didn't realise it was that expensive!!!