About six months ago I came out with an Asana Kitchen on Pasasana. In that video I briefly touched on the tight achilles tendon and how that obstructs creating a nice grounded posture. There are two asanas that help stretch the tendon and they are Down Dog and *Utkatasana*. I have also included some written notes to help aid you.
Utkatasana is such a beautiful posture so get lightning bolt FIERCE with it.
Two translations of the posture name that give beneficial clues on how to do it.
1) Fierce Posture
2) Lightning Bolt Posture
1) The hips, legs and feet form your foundation, as you bend the knees come down into a partial squat.
2) The pelvis will tip slightly forward (as opposed to tucking the tail) as you sink the hips back and down, and at the same time move the knees and shins forward.
3) Make your squat low and powerful, the weight shifted forward so that you feel centered over your feet. –Through establishing your strong foundation you want to achieve a ready stance like that of a skier gliding fast and poised down a steep slope.
4) Create a symmetry between the diagonal lines formed by the lower and upper leg bones, imagine your legs forming a medium zig zag line that resembles a lightning bolt and use this strong line to help you orient your pelvis nicely over your feet.
5) Allow the thighs to rotate inwardly. Imagine your self as having a heavy tail that drags the back of the pelvis downwards (a different action than tucking the tail). This action is to contrast and balance the forward tilt of the pelvis that helps you create a back bending gesture.
1) Allow the spine to elongate up out of the pelvis as though doing a back bend (lightly extending the spine) but also keep the front floating ribs released downwards towards the two ilium bones at the front of the upper pelvis. Imagine that the abdominal space between the navel and front ribs stays shortened and ‘hollow’ in a uddhyana bandha type of gesture.
2) Focus on the same low/mid torso area but on the back side of the body: widen the back ribs and relax the kidneys back. In this way the back side of the low/mid torso feels round and wide (as opposed to collapsed forward). This is a complimentary action to imagining a magnetic attraction between the front ribs and two bones at the front of the pelvis (see number 1 just above).
3) Lift up at the top the sternum, distinguish your lift between the bottom and top of the sternum, release the bottom of the sternum downwards towards the pelvis and lift just the top part of the sternum.
4) Create maximum expansion across the upper chest (also called the arm pit chest). To do this create a tight, looping spiral that begins at the base of the arm pit. Feel the loop lifting and broadening the upper chest and widening the collarbones without lifting the front floating ribs.
1) Lift up the arms with an external rotation spiral, reaching up strongly from the inner elbow through the pinky fingers. If you have less flexible shoulders your fingers will not necessarily point straight up. The fingers might point up and slightly forward. Press the palms and fingers together snugly and accurately and turn your steady, easy gaze up past the thumbs.
Extra Notes about the heels
If you have tight achilles tendons, or you have trouble getting the hips low while staying forward, you’ll want to shift your weight forward so that the balls of the feet receive more weight than the heels. Think ‘light heels, heavy toes’. You may even need to place some added support and height (a rolled mat/towel or block) under your heels in order to get a true feeling for the fierceness of this posture.
If you are tight and are struggling with the posture you can keep both the arms and legs slightly separated. As you loosen up and gain mobility move the arms and legs closer together.