Greetings! In the previous article on Concord Patch, MA we described the modified locust posture that is one among a series of postures helping to maintain a healthy back. We also emphasized the term 'back maintenance' in contrast to 'the cure for back ailment'.
Now, assuming that you have been following along and practicing the modified cobra and the modified locust postures, in this article we will describe the modified staff posture. Unlike the modified cobra and the modified locust postures, the modified staff posture might be a bit more strenuous in practice because in its mechanics it is a toned down pushup.
Lie on your stomach on the mat. Place your elbows forward such that they are in line with the respective shoulders. Palms and forearms are stretched out before you. This will cause you to assume a cobra like posture because the head, neck and upper trunk are all raised. In other words, from hips up your posture would also resemble that of the Sphinx. Turn the sole parts of your toes to the mat. You will contract your dorsiflexors and toe extensors to do this. Correspondingly, your calves will be stretched.
As you exhale apply pressure through your palms, forearms, elbows and the soles of your toes, and raise the entire body up as in a pushup. Note that the elbows do not budge from their places on the mat. At this point your entire trunk and legs should incline smoothly giving the appearance of a firm staff. Hold stomach in and inhale and exhale five times. At the end of this cycle of breaths, as you inhale, lower your body back down on the mat. Allow your toes to stretch out, bring your arms to lie along your body with palms up, rest your head turned to one side. Relax. After a thirty-second rest, this modified staff posture can be repeated five times with thirty-second rests in between. To avoid your getting lost in my verbose description, I have ventured to attach a few stick figures for clarity.
The modified staff posture will improve the muscle synergy of the trunk. Its practice is also a prelude to deep mystical practices. Talking about mysticism, there is no better place than Concord, Ma to discuss mysticism.
Unlike Science, the domain of mysticism is generally seen as a faith based knowledge system. However, from underlying similarities of mystical experiences of adepts of many cultures, here are some fundamentals that are pan-cultural: The human subtle energy system with its many energy channels and energy centers are common experience in many cultures. Healthy back maintenance for its own sake is good in itself. However, a healthy back program is also good for cultivating a strong spiritual practice for personal progress, which not only benefits the practitioner but will also contribute to the upliftment of one’s community.
This article is an excerpt from Nandu Menon's upcoming work on Yoga Therapy. Nandu Menon is a Physical Therapist specialist in back and neck decompression therapy, Yoga Teacher, and author with his practice at Concord Yoga and Physical Therapy, Concord, MA.