“The kick drives the posture,” is what teachers say about standing bow-pulling pose, called Lord of the Dance in other hatha yoga practices. This archetype of grace we do fifth in the Bikram series.
Standing in balance on one foot in any pose is magical, of course. To be still and serene on a single small base is as accomplishment in itself. The various directions in which the arms, legs, and torso extend complicate the accomplishment.
Standing bow-pulling pose is a feat of engineering, and may people fall in love with it–the proud upward curve of the ribs, the firm point of the front arm, the toes above the head, and the trick of holding still. It is a dance among up and down, forward and backward, stretching out and contracting, work and joy.
I build my bow with slow care. I begin the arch my pushing my hips forward in a pelvic tilt, then curving my shoulders backward as my front arm reaches forth. These two curvings start the arch of my spine from either end, and then I deepen the arch with cobra muscle.
The backbend is, in fact, what keeps the body from falling as I bring my abdomen down to parallel the floor. More specifically, my grip on the raised foot is what sustains me. Because as that foot continuously kicks backward, it keeps my upper chest lifted and upright. The force I push through to my toes out back is what holds me aloft.
But until I got the nerve to really kick my foot away from my butt, and got the flexibility to arc my back, I did not feel how the kick drives the pose, both the movement into it and the stillness at its zenith. All the words in the world can not give the sense of how it works, how I hold my body up, above and beyond gravity, just by trusting my hand to hold my foot, just by kicking back in my yoga.