In PranaVayu Yoga, we believe that intelligent planning is everything. In my experience, I’ve found that structured practice or class plan that integrates clearly articulated goals with a structured approach to accomplish those outcomes helps to reduce the liklihood of injury, accelerates overall gains in strength and flexibility and makes your practice more enjoyable as you learn how to work smarter rather than harder.
Along those same lines, Periodization Godfather Tudor Bompa once said, “An organized planned training program eliminates the random, aimless approach still used in some sports. A well-structured plan gives guidance, direction and scope to everything done. Good planning removes any relevance from those who still proclaim “no pain no gain” and “intensity all the way.” Replace such rhetorical claims with intelligent training. Why? Because planning is the art of using science to structure a training program! In training, nothing happens by accident, but by design.”
Taking Dr. Bompa’s words to heart, I’ve made it easier for PranaVayu teachers to design effective and well structured classes by organizing our entire postural curriculum of roughly 300 poses into short training “paradigms” that can be used to assemble highly efficient yoga classes and personalized practice plans. Each postural paradigm consists of between ten and twenty postural options that can be used to open a given muscle group or particular range of motion. In assembling a practice, a teacher chooses one or two postures from a short grouping of five or six paradigms to form a practice set. Once all of the postures are chosen, they are then linked together in a flowing sequence that will gradually strengthen and stretch the muscles groups that inhibit range of motion in a specific posture such as the dancer’s pose or foot behind the head posture.
This system works incredibly well! Because it is highly efficient, I’ve found that many students have been able to accomplish variations that typically take two or three years in a matter of weeks or months. So that you can check it out for yourself, I’ve used this paradigm based approach to construct a short sequence of postures that will help you build the strength and flexibility necessary to perform an overhead bind in the dancer’s pose.
Practice note: Because repetition is essential for learning any new technical element, you’ll need to practice this sequence two or three times per week for the next three weeks for optimal effect. If you’re not ready for the overhead bind, practice the more commonly found version of those pose seen in the link below, or make it easier to bind the lifted foot by using a strap.
Practice this short training set to build into Natarajasana: