There was a cry from the second row, I looked back to see a knee that’d clearly seen some serious surgery being hugged and soothed. “Just shoot your legs back…” That was the instruction. I had heard it 100 times before.
The class is teetering in Baddha Konasana (Crow). Some are solid and looking for more; others just glad they finally got the second foot of the ground. “Looking good. Now just shoot your legs back to Chaturanga”.
Laughter and groans: “You have to be kidding…” “There’s no space…” “I only just got my feet off the ground.”
One lady to my right “shoots her legs back” heavily stubbing her left toe into the mat after it has traveled about 15 inches of its 4 foot journey.
Another Yogi shoots his legs high in the air. His toes slam into the mat while his whole body continues its journey south and pauses in a brief upward dog before he recovers to plank. Mmm…good job. The command was not “gracefully” shoot your legs back.
What is going wrong? I had better survey some teachers and find out.
“It’s all about core strength…You see, you have to have the core strength to pull the knees in tight to the chest before you fling them back.” Solution: more core work, more forearms, plank, and other crowd pleasers.
“It’s all about shoulder strength…You have to be able to support you weight so you can fly the legs back”. Solution: more shoulder work, down dog, handstand, crow, dolphin, Yikes! another crowd pleaser.
“Confidence, that’s what is needed. You just need the confidence that you can do it.” Let’s examine this one: I am wobbling back and forth in crow, my left foot is occasionally touching the mat as I try to stabilize myself. I am getting tired, it feels like I have been holding crow forever. The last time I shot my legs back I took three layers of skin off my foot and lost a toenail. No worries! I will just shoot those legs back but with confidence this time 🙂
“You have to focus on the breath, a deep breath in before you exhale and explode the legs backwards.” Oh please!!
I have run out of teachers to ask. I guess I don’t know that many people. Maybe I should stop blogging and get out more:)
So here is my theory:
It’s all about counter balance, well simple physics, really. Even with all of the above, you still won’t shoot your legs back gracefully. As you hold crow your feet are about four inches off of the ground. However, as soon as you start to shoot those legs backwards, gravity takes over. The farther back they go, the more this happens. Someone else can do the math but you only have a split second to get those feet back if they are teetering inches above the mat. If you don’t believe me, try holding crow with your legs sticking straight out behind you. 🙂
Solution: before you “just shoot your legs back,” tip forwards slightly and bring your weight forward over your hands. Now you have room to shoot those legs back.
So there you have it problem solved. No more stubbed toes or twisted knees. No more cries of pain or crash landings.
Of course in order to do this you will need
- Core strength
- Shoulder strength
- Confidence (that you are not going to face plant)
- and a deep breath
Can’t wait that long? ….. just shoot your legs back.