Dr. Anthony B. James DNM(P), ND, MD(AM), DPHC(h.c.), SMOKH
Director of Education at The Thai Yoga Center and The SomaVeda™ Institute of Natural Healing
SAO NONG to DAK KHA Safety and Transition
SomaVeda™ Thai Yoga and Thai Massage Mastery emphasizes the role and importance of transitions and flow.
Whats the best way to move from Sao Nong to Dak Kha safely? Let’s start by looking at the transition from Sao Nong, to Dak Kha, (Ardhis Supta Virasana – Bent Inward Knee position). There is so much information and possibility to do some great things here it’s worth spending a little time looking at the details and breaking it down a bit. Please use this article to help follow along the video I have included here.
Technically, the idea is to simply go from Sao Nong to Dak Kha, bent inward knee. We do a transition on the way. Push up with both hands, left hand on the inside leg and then nice and easy flatten the thigh, flat like a table top. Now I’ll adjust because he’s little bit flexible before I come up. I want his heel close to his buttocks. The heel moving close to the bottom is what puts this position under tension like a spring. Once I have tension on the position…I’m not trying to turn him over, I just want this flat, I start small and fast rocking. When I feel the bounce I grow into it until I have a full body rock.
This transitional position is so beautiful and helpful for people who have sciatica, disc impingement of L4, L5, and fluid issues with the knee itself. There is no strain on the knee in this position. Every time I’m bouncing, I’m flexing the sacral-illial bridge (SI) open and closed. That makes this a sacral pump. The hardest thing in the world when you have L4, L5 and SI impingement is to get circulation in there. The area is not exactly in the line of much direct circulation and can be quite stagnant. If I biopsied it, it would be like an oxygen wasteland. Anything that can get a pumping motion in the SI joint is hugely valuable. This happens to be one of the most productive techniques for that.
An effect of the rocking is that you notice the clients whole body is moving. I bounce and rock the leg but the nose is going ‘wobbly wobbly’. That means that the rocking is full body. We know that when doing manual lymph drainage and lymphatic facilitation that bouncing, shaking, rocking and jostling are the most productive techniques that we can do along with vibration and percussion.
When doing the rocking, the rhythm has to start small and fast. Don’t go too slow because it becomes a push rather than a pump. The first purpose is for the sacral pump. Then you grow it and get bigger and bigger in the rocking motion. Now we have not only the benefit of the sacral pump, but we have a hip and Piriformis release. Why is the flex and release of the Piriformis important? In many people the sciatic nerve is under the Piriformis so when it is in spasm under the gluteous muscle, it causes a direct impingement on the sciatic nerve. If it is just a little bit it simply causes weakness in the leg.
When you are more restricted or resistant on one leg than the other, there is a high probability of sciatic impingement which causes the knee to not be strong and affects balance.
Some people say, ‘oh if you cant balance or have a balance issue its because you are not practicing enough’. In this case, you cant balance because you may have nerve impingement. There is a term for this called ‘Hunter’s Canal, Functional Toe Drop, Knee Drop’ – there is a whole list of names for this. That’s before you get to pain. Pain goes on a continuom from slight to crippling pain. It can be so severe that you feel like, ‘please someone hand me a gun so I can end the agony’. It’s hard to describe that kind of pain unless you’ve been in it. People will chip their teeth while grinding them when that pain is so great.
This is a beautiful release for that. The secondary benefit is in the motion of the abdomen. 80% of the superficial lymph nodes are in the groin, abdomen, breast and chest. Anything that rocks and vibrates those areas has a high probability to facilitate the lymph.
It is a simple technique. In passing, you might not get how cool and valuable this is.
What do I do from here?
I’m going to move the leg into position for Dak Kha. The problem is that this distance between the heel and buttocks has to stay the same. The back of the heel needs to be tght to the buttocks. You can’t open up the leg or allow the foot to float out as you bring the client out of the position. Remember, I said that there is a martial influence in every technique? If I want to destroy your knee on purpose say in a wrestling or grappling match and I had your knee crossed over, all I’d do is turn you over and extend the heel at the same time. That would break and or tear the medial collateral ligament.
Now that I know that, I want to make sure I do not martially attack my client as I transition them from one healthy position to another.
How do I keep from damaging his knee as I do so?
1. Keep the heel tight to the bottom
2. The knee has to stay low as it comes across – horizontal like moving around a clock face
Why? If you raise the knee, you almost always extend the heel away from the glutes. To clean it up, just tuck it in and he’s got nice support here.
As you do the asanas and transitions you learn to recognize bail out postures and movements. I want to correct and shut off his exit and correct the bailout before he tries to get away. When his straightened leg gets tense and starts to turn, I bring it back and give it a rock. Now, he starts to settle in and his hip drops into the posture.
From here I do the four primary steps in Dak Kha, TEST, PALM HIT, STRETCH.
1. Test for range of motion
2. Palm press down the thigh
3. Hit as in percuss with two hand hacking
4. Stretch as in drive the knee as close to the floor as possible with awareness and gentleness (appropriate to the range of motion)
From here do a clean release.
To emphasize the safety on the release, the top of the knee has to go straight up. Any other direction puts a twist in the knee. The thing about the knee joint is that it is very strong, unless you push it from the side. Then you are finished. It doesn’t take much in torsion. You know how many pounds of pressure of torsion it takes to destroy the medial collateral ligament? It takes only 8 pounds of pressure on a one inch area give or take…that’s like a bag and a half of flour.
You have power. You have to constantly remember to use your powers for good. Of course I can generate more than 8 pounds of pressure in torsion so I need to make sure that I don’t. If possible as I release the leg I don’t want ANY rotation on the knee.
There cant be any rotation going it or coming out.
This isolates the quadriceps and the Psoas. It bridges the low back. If you twist the leg as you bring it out, it may cause or exacerbate an injury.
To bring the knee straight up, get under the knee and grasp the foot and pull the heel strongly up under the knee. If it looks anything else under than this, it is not safe.
Following the above recommendations will support your safe practice and that your following the Yoga Ahimsa principle of “At the least do no harm” as you move through this elegant transition.
From the Dak Kha position we then transition to the Dak Wu Kao or Pigeon Pose.
When done correctly and safely the Dak Kha Yoga Therapy Asana is a perfect method of bringing Energy, Attention, Consciousness and Breath to the body of our client. Dak Kha is balancing to the Doshas and is a traditional way to share or impart love as a moving prayer for the healing and welfare of our client.
Always include Therapeutic Puja or Prayer
In order to create a spiritual space in which to heal and frame of mind to maximize the contact and experience we are sharing with the client, we incorporate Puja (Therapeutic Prayer) before and after we do a hand reflexology session.
SomaVeda™ Integrated Traditional Therapies are a spiritual, energetic and competency based therapeutic healing system or Spiritual Medicine (See: What is SomaVeda™?). In the SomaVeda™ system there are over 1000 different therapeutic postures used commonly. SomaVeda™ is a complete holistic system on Natural Medicine.
SomaVeda™ Integrated Traditional Therapies is a Registered TradeMark of Anthony James.