Standing separate leg stretch Pose

7/8/20233 min read

How refreshing to see people taking ownership of their personal health plans. Every indorsement you make adds dividends to your life in terms of quality and benefits. Pay your dues in the hot room. The currency is sweat and sometimes tears. Suffer in private, in your own practice, on-on-one in the mirror. The tremendous results gained are enjoyed and savoured outside. Sweet payback.

The etiquette in the room is “every woman and every man to themselves”. With respect and discipline, focus on yourself and your own issues. As you work physically, intangible things are developing that we can’t even understand. We receive what we need. Your only responsibility is to show up at the studio, on your mat, and do the best you can in the moment. The transformation happens on its own, at its own pace. If you want it, you will work for it, and you will get it. It won’t happen if you don’t participate.

Showcasing the pose ‘standing separate leg stretching’ and the dialogue specifying “chin forward”. The multiple grammatical question marks in the Bikram dialogue are true gems. I love them. I feel it’s divine inspiration to only use two words for an instruction that has so much locked up inside. Who wants a lecture when two words will do. Let’s unpack it.

More than once in the dialogue there is the instruction "chin forward". Chin forward means placing your head in neutral position, chin level, not tucked into the chest or backwards. In this posture a neutral head position allows you a perfectly straight spine. The head is heavy, so why not use it to your advantage to stretch the spine and to reverse compression in the spine - pinched nerves, slipped discs, numbness, weakness, and pain. We sometimes see people doing a 90-degree bend in the cervical spine (neck) – straining to look forward, they are innocently trying their best with ‘chin forward’. I’ve done that too, and on occasion I’ve been instructed by teachers to do it.

The picture of this posture is of a very experienced person doing the pose. It's a representation of the pose, pls don't worry if you are not quite there yet! :) Considering the angle of the body and head in this pose, if you tilt the head to “look forward” the chin is actually not going forward, it’s going ‘back’ or ‘up’, and you are diverting all your effort to the neck and shoulders instead of the arms, legs and spine. The same is true if you dip your head down to touch the floor before the hips have opened enough. It is head and neck strain you don’t need, and it doesn’t contribute to the purpose of the pose – standing separate leg stretching. Best to let your head be relaxed, and only use your arms for leverage, gripping the heels and locking the knees – quad muscles contracted all the way up to the hips. You will then feel your whole torso (not just the head) drawing closer to your legs, forehead closer to the floor, eventually touching down between the feet.

The dialogue states the progression of the pose. "First the legs stretching, then the hips stretching, then lower spine stretching, then whole spine is stretching. Eventually the whole body is stretching, 360 degree angle, inside out, from bones to the skin, coccyx to the toes, coccyx to the forehead" - in other words, fully opening the hips. Flexible, strong hips will allow you to bend all the way forward from the hips, like a hinge, until your head is right down between your feet.

One more thing, the forehead is the whole front half of your head. So, there is plenty of surface area that can be used to touch down. It doesn’t have to be the ‘third eye’ area above your eyebrows.