The Bowspring curriculum starts with the Elemental forms of the hands, feet, arms and legs, which are foundational to all Sridaiva dynamic poses.
Beginning students first learn the most fundamental postural forms of the appendages which are like the alphabet within the language of all Bowspring poses and exercises. These set forms of the limbs are considered elemental since they repeat in ever-increasing complex postures and exercises through all the poses within the collective Sridaiva syllabi – Levels 1 – 3. All the elemental forms are specifically defined in terms of the geometric shape and spatial position of each hand, foot, elbow and knee.
The Elemental forms are to help give maximum isometric tone on all sides of the body in every pose. An active tone is created on the underside of the feet, hands, toes and fingers. The toe-tips and fingertips are among the first areas for the student to focus on when learning the basic forms. Through the tips of the fingers and toes we increase sensitivity to gain more connection to the world around us. Also, through more conscious engagement of the fingers and toes, we increase full body strength through myofascial integration up into the core of the body. The detailed, balanced action of the hands and the feet are critical to the power of the Bowspring throughout the whole body.
In total, there are 47 Elemental Forms, yet only about 11 main elemental forms are the most common in the Bowspring practice. The most important Elemental forms are demarked with an * below.
* Earth FootFoot on the ground with two arches, one at the neck of each toe and at the body of the foot.
Earth Feet are foundational.
All toe pads and mounds press gently down and sweep back evenly with no joint hyper-extended.
Center of the heel lightly touches the ground.
Crouching FootToes tucked under on the floor with the heel lifted and drawing toward midline. All pads and mounds are ideally down on the ground.
Kickstand FootFront foot is crossed in front of supporting foot and the backs of the mounds are down.
Heel is lifted to hover and drag back.
Dancer FootThe foot is pointed away from the knee.
The inner and outer edges of the foot are evenly extended from the ankle.
Toe pads and mounds press down and sweep back toward the heel.
Lotus FootDancer Foot is positioned in the opposite groin.
Turn foot and shin outward so sole of the Lotus Foot points upward. Avoid shortening the inner ankle.
* Hero FootTop of foot on the floor.
Foot veering outward toward the pinky side of the foot with heel moving toward midline.
Mid-line of the foot is in line with the shin, so the ankle is straight. Push the top of the forefoot down to hollow the front ankle up away from the floor.
Bent LegThe leg is slightly bent at the knee less than 30 degrees. (greater than 150-degree open angle behind the knee)
Wave LegBent Leg on the floor with Earth Foot.
Knee bent less than 5 degrees. Tone the back of the leg by dragging its heel back towards the hip.
* Square LegLeg bent from 60-degree to 90-degree angle. Hip, knee, and ankle are in line with one another.
* Open LegSquare Leg open directly out to the side so that the knee points laterally and the thighbone is in the side plane.
Hero LegsKneeling with the top of the foot on the floor in Dancer Foot.
Shin and foot shifted out to the outer edge of the thighs and hips.
Straight line from centerline of the shin through the middle of the heel to the second toe mound.
Squat LegsFeet and knees turn out equally with the legs folded deeply. Hover the heels low to maintain the femurs in the back side of the legs.
Lotus LegLotus Foot and knee forward and wide out to the side so groins can hollow and pelvic floor can open.
Phoenix LegsOne leg crossed over the other leg at the knee. Crossed leg foot wraps behind the other leg.
Zig-Zag LegsOne foot stepped behind and outside of the front foot.
Front foot forward, back foot turned outward.
Both knees bent pointing outward. Spongy feet that drag back help to keep the sacrum tipped in and the pelvic floor open,
* Seed HandsAll fingers softly curl in toward the mound of the thumb, and the thumb pad presses the outer edge of the index finger. The tips of the fingers are soft and sensitive with no force. There is empty space in the center of the palm as if holding a rod or bar 5cm / 1/2in thick. The palm squeezes in and downward toward the center of the base of the palm (Valley of Neptune). The knuckles are staggered evenly from the index finger to the little finger so the hand shape resembles a pine cone.
Salt HandsOpen Seed Hands until the tips of the index finger and middle finger touch the tip of the thumb in the shape of an oval.
The little fingers curl into toward the center of the palm. The outer landscape of the thumb mound is smooth and gently curved
Jewel HandsFingers softly bend toward each other so all the finger pads barely touch the tip of the thumb. The fingertips draw toward each other ever so softly. The fingers are curled gently yet pushing long from Radiant Heart. The heel of the palm is firmly squeezing from the sides to the middle of the base of the palm, so the mound of the thumb and the mound of the little finger draw down into the base. The center of the palm is deeply hollowed yet the fingers stay soft.
* Dome HandsTouch the floor with fingernails first. Hands are cupped with each finger joint bent.
The back of the hand is rounded and soft.
Squeeze the fingertips in toward the center of the palm, and particulary tone the mound of the thumb and the mound of the little finger in and down toward the Valley of Neptune.
Horseshoe HandDome Hand squeezed narrow into the shape of a horseshoe. All fingers are lightly touching save the thumb.
Harvest HandsLike a 3-finger Dome Hand with the little finger and ring finger curled inward toward the center of the palm more than the Peace fingers (index and middle fingers) and the thumb.
* Bright HandFrom Dome Hands draw the heel of the palm back to bring the horseshoe of the outer palm to touch the surface like a suction cup. Clawing fingers and thumbs extended evenly from the center of the wrist.
Fingertips and metacarpals are down while the joints of the fingers are smoothly domed upward.
The center of the palm and the Valley of Neptune are both lifted up away from the surface.
* Liquid HandThis hand form is used when holding a part of the body with Bright Hands. Touch a part of the body with the outer palm and underside of the fingers. Completely envelope a part of the body with your hand by softening and liquefying Bright Hand until your fingers and palm conform to the shape of the body part that you touching. Maintain the dome shape of the center of the palm.
Palm to PawTouch the upper palm down over the pads and mounds of the toes with finger pads on top of the foot.
Hercules ClaspThe fingers of each hand are close together and bent in a tight C-shape.
One hand rotates inward while the other hand rotates outward so the palms face each other with each hand pointing in opposite direction.
The fingers can then be clasped with steady strength.
Interlocked FingersInterweave the fingers of Bright Hands until each hand is interlocked to the base of each finger.
Center of the palms expand outward while fingers draw inward.
Infinity HandsSalt Hands or Jewel Hands lightly touching at fingertips, so that the shape of the hands between the thumbs and the index fingers resembles the double nimbus, or infinity symbol.
* V-Vector ArmsStraight arms up and forward, just above the shoulders in the shape of a V with Seed Hands pointing forward.
Chin-Up Bar ArmsArms up in front, bent and parallel.
Palms turned toward face, with fingers gently curled.
Hand MirrorWith one hand grounded, one hand lifted with elbow bent forward and palm turned toward the face like Chin-up Bar Arms.
* Ecstasy ArmsBoth hands cradling the back of the head wit Dome Hands.
Elbows draw toward the midline, shoulders expand out. This can also be done one arm at a time, Ecstasy Right/Left.
Crown ArmsPalms together with sides of the thumbs on the crown of the head.
Elbows draw toward the midline. The head rises into the pressure of the outer thumb.