Tracing the “Lineage” of a Pose

Last night in Mary Obendorfer’s workshop, we worked on Padmasana (Lotus Pose) as seen above. Today, my legs feel “lighter” as the pose works the tight hip flexors, gluteus maximus while elongating the groins. It also creates space and movement in  all the major leg joints: hips, knees and ankles. It is easy to see why this pose has lasted thousands of years.

In usual Mary O. style, she gave us homework to trace the “lineage” of this pose from the sequences in the back of Light On Yoga (Iyengar’s foremost text), and through our certification manual. Lineage in this case refers to poses that lead up to Padamasana and how those poses have similar action. Since I have some time on my hands, I went through Light on yoga and did the assignment.

The sequences in the back of Light On Yoga is a whole other blog post topic. He gives a 300 week course going through all 200 poses and sequences building up to them. When I first started doing Iyengar yoga, I went from week one and was stopped dead in my tracks at week 16. After 14 years of practice, I could probably make it to week 30. A senior teacher asked Mr. Iyengar about the difficulty of the sequences compared to the time allotted and he said “just add a zero a the end of each week.” 3000 week course, got it!

In the back of Light On Yoga, Padmasana doesn’t rear it’s head until week 22. Poses with similar actions include Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasna, Bharadvajasana II, Siddhasana, Baddha Konasana, Janu Sirsansana, Maha Mudra, Virabhadrasana II, and Utthita Parsvakonasana. In the Certification Manual, Padmasana does not appear until Intermediate Junior II (I am far from qualified to teach it). But if you see the previous post, I speak at length about Baddha Konasana which has many of the major muscle actions of Padmasana without the extreme joint movements.

For more advanced practitioners reading this blog, find a “target” pose and trace back poses with similar actions and use that as a sequence. For beginner students, just work on building your time in Baddha Konasana as seen in the previous post.


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