Forward bends last week, side bends this week. The more I explore yogic bends, I realize there is much more to them than meets the eye.
Side bending, as one would expect, is to stretch the lateral sides of the body. The side abdominals (obliques) and rib musculature (intercostal muscles) receive a nice lengthening with bending to the side. However, depending on the exact positioning, certain anatomical parts are moving and others are fixed and this will dictate what actually is happening.
In Coulter's book, Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, he outlines the differences explaining the role of the spine and the pelvis. For example, this week I practiced a standing side bend with my feet together. The movement is initiated by the torso and is a lateral flexion of the spine.
Try it - you barely move laterally to the side.
Yet, if I simply changed the position of my feet to a shoulder width stance, my pelvis and hips would also be a part of the movement. As I lean to the right, my right hip will drop and I will not only be doing a side bend but also a slight twist and forward bend.
Interesting! At least from my anatomy and biomechanic loving self!
This or that?
With every post, I am also striving to determine the Sanskirt name for the poses I explore. Well, this one took some effort to figure out.
I've frequently heard this pose called half moon (Ardha Chandrasana) but as I enter this into google images, it shows me multiple poses (as above).
Wait a minute! There must be more to this as well.
It turns out that the side bending pose of half moon in Hatha yoga is the foundation of the half moon pose in Bikram yoga; Hatha yoga is the ancient practice versus Bikram is the more modern practice and Bikram derives many if it's 26 poses from the original Hatha yoga. The reason the pose was modified, is due to the fact Bikram is a much faster paced practice and the original half moon pose would not have fit in a more fluid, quick paced practice.
So, I was partly right in calling it half moon pose but I didn't realize it was the name of two poses. I suppose as in English where an orange is a food and a colour, Sanskirt can also have the same name for two things too.
To further explain my questioning of naming, in Schiffmann's book, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness, he explains there is Ardha Chandrasana I (standing side bend, what I did this week) and Ardha Chandrasana II (half moon pose) and both can be done in practice.
I've barely scratched the surface of side bends it seems. And as I look through multiple books and websites, as I said, there is more than meets the eye with side bends.
More bending to come…at many angles!
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.