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This post is part of Sadhana, a 26-week exploration of each of the Namaste Yoga sequences. It’s never too late to join! All that is required is to try a new Namaste sequence each week – and don’t forget to post about your experiences to be entered in our monthly contests. Read all the Sadhana posts here or connect with others participating in Sadhana on our Facebook wall.

Have you ever been encouraged to "put it behind you"? Everything from a little gaffe to a major catastrophe, you must press forward and try not to look back or live in the past. Many times, in your effort to put it behind you, it gets behind you, becoming that nagging tight place in your shoulders, back or hamstrings.

Sometimes our efforts to “put things behind” can cause us to be too hard on ourselves. It is easy to act as though we are “past it,” when, in reality, we are hiding the fact that it’s still right behind us.

The difficulty is not in putting it behind you, but actually letting it go.

The Head to Knee sequence helps to let things go. While it’s a great sequence for anyone who walks or runs a lot, because it stretches those tight hamstrings and calves, there is more to it than that…

Starting with the Sun-Moon breath body link, think about cyclical motion in the mind. We take in so much, pull it in… but how often do we let it go? Gently lowering to Forward Fold feels comforting, resting the halves of your body along one another; as if to create your own shelter from the external environment, if only for a moment.

The Sun-Moon lift is a little lighter this time. You feel a little stronger.

Forward fold soon melds into Monkey Pose: another moment to shelter before opening and lifting to the world. Bring the weight of the upper body forward, and then lift again.

Nurture, release, repeat.

 

You add Straight-Legged Hamstring Stretch to the flow, which seems to combine this nurture and release cycle in one pose! Feel comforted with the upper body folded over your leg as tension drains away from the calves, hamstrings and back.

“Feel the whole body, invigorated, yet calm,” Kate says.

Then you’re in Head-to-Knee. The stretch is incredible. You can inhale and lift your chest a little before sinking so satisfactorily back into this gratifying posture. When you come back up to the Sun-Moon link, Kate says you are “riding the breath.” It’s a great ride! Your palms touch above you and you find the apex of your breath. You also find your smile and a momentary wish to stay right where you are in this glorious moment of positive peace and renewed energy.

Nurture, release, repeat.

By the time you get to Needle pose, you are feeling relaxed and restored. It doesn’t matter how high you raise your leg, you can feel the upward energy traveling through the entire length of it and out into space. Kate asks, “can you make it easier on yourself? Try.”

Nurture, release, repeat.

The movements of Savasana feel very rewarding. You’ve done great things! But the work is not quite done. Kate encourages you to let go, “really” let go. This is the moment. Don’t put it all in the back of your mind again. Let it drain away, through all the muscles, the bones and the skin. Let it sink not just to the back, but through your pores and into the earth. It’s really time to let it go.

Now you see there’s more to the Head to Knee sequence than there appeared to be. It’s a life lesson:

“To learn how to be more gentle, more open, more honest,” Kate says.

That’s one thing you shouldn’t put behind you.

Namaste.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Heather Gregory is an avid Namaste yogini and has been practicing the sequences nearly every day for three years. We enlisted Heather to embark on Sadhana, our 26 -week journey, and blog about each sequence. You can contact her at heather@namaste.tv