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15th October - Rajalaxmi Backbends and Elbows!

Had our 2nd mock exam yesterday and it went a little better than the first. Came away feeling extremely determined to practice, practice, practice this week and master the poses that are still eluding me. Woke up this morning all fired up ready to go and went for my weakest poses. Urdhva Mukha Paschimottonasana, Supta Kurmasana, Eka Pada Sirsasana and dropping back to Setu Bandha straight legs from Sarvangasana. After 4.5 hours I felt I'd made some real progress and my internal conscience was satisfied (that Geetaji comment will stay with me forever!)

Urdhva Mukha Paschimottonasana

Enjoyed a superb lunch, courtesy of the cook here on the terrace and enjoyed identifying all the beautiful birds that share the space up in the trees as we are. We saw a red vented bulbul and this green fella that looks a bit like a green bee eater, but didn't seem to be so vividly coloured - anyone?

Was incredibly weary walking to Rajalaxmi's class this eve, my body really feeling the effects of the strong work I'd done this morning, it's really hard to get a truly balanced practice when preparing for assessment. The second I got into the practice hall the sweat began, even before the first pose and boy did she make us work! at one point (some might say a little rashly) I asked a question and so ended up demonstrating for the class, so that they could learn while I learned and I added an extra 2 Urdhva Dhanurasana to the 10 we were already doing. It was an excellent class and I hope you can follow the notes to catch the teaching back home. Thanks to Deb and Wendy for notes.

15th October – Rajalaxmi Backbends

Swastikasana Invocation and Guru chant. Cup your palms beside the hips to ascend fully upwards. Top shoulder blade has to come down, but bottom shoulder blades have to spread slightly apart as you move the back rib in and see how that gives the spread to the front ribs (it also gave space for me to move my pancreas in). Armpit chest forward, dorsal like an arrow penetrating in towards the sternum, sternum bone upward, sides of the neck tall. Imagine someone has stood in front of you using their fingers behind to draw down the shoulder blades away from the neck and move the back ribs in (she mimed this).

Swastikasana palms on the floor, push upper arm down, elbows from back to front like a nail or an arrow, move the bony elbow into you. Shift the buttocks a little back and lift them off the floor (like a mini hand balance) spread the palm, but DO NOT rotate the inner elbow to face forward, see how easily it moves? The inner elbow has to face the side trunk and the back elbow has to press to the front. UH Swastikasana resist with the wrist but move elbows from the back to the front and see how that works to open the armpit.

AMSwastikasana Open wrists, palms fingers and do not allow the bottom elbow to drop towards the floor, resist up there and press armpits / shoulders down. Lift the buttocks off the floor, bring the weight over onto the shins and take the head onto the floor, then keep head down and lengthen outer thigh, outer hip to reach the buttocks back down.

AMSvanasana Open back thigh from the inside out. Lift heels completely off the floor and raise the tailbone right up. Maintain the height of the tailbone, sharpen the arch of the foot, extend heel back and move front leg to back leg to extend heels down maintaining tailbone height and arches sharp X 3 or 4 (long stay and lots of work in AMS).

Walk hands back to Uttanasana

Parsvottonasana fingers interlocked behind Take proper distance. Push front thigh to back thigh. Shoulders rolling back and down, sternum chest lift and spread. Weight to heel side. Come forwards with concave back without lifting the arms, instead draw back there in line with trunk, eyes looking to front of room. Then release palms to floor and head down. Outer right thigh draw back, right buttock bone towards left heel – a looong way it had to draw back and in - left buttock flesh away from centre. I had thought I was doing this action correctly, but she came and adjusted me and took it much, much further back and in.

Parsvottonasana hands in namaskarasana Sitting bone action, move forward there to coil spine in and look up – sternum, shoulder blade, armpit action! Now go down – elongate upper arms instead of moving elbows back. Chin to shin and roll right buttock bone to left heel, left buttock bone spread to side.

Prasarita Paddottonasana 2 Whole inner leg has to hit outward from groin to ankles, whole length of inner leg PUSH OUT! Hands in namaskarasana, be on heels, open buttock thigh, coil spine in and look up, come forwards maintaining the length and head down. Inner leg to outer leg, with your sternum come up.

Uttanasana spread palm on the floor and move back elbow to front elbow – if elbow is bending then walk hands further back.

Sirsasana from ardha sirsasana – walk in, shoulders up – sharpen your arches and move them into you to go up to get spine length and go up to sirsasana. Legs apart and get the lift in heel – whole ankle front and back lift up, connection is to groin. Roll front thighs in so that inner thighs have to look at each other, mirror image. Inner edges to lift buttocks up, ankles lift up so that your groins get a lift. Toes face front, feet like tadasana and raise heels as if you were wearing a high heeled shoe – now maintain and join legs. Virasana in sirsasana take the middle buttock in, suck it into you – naturally the front thigh extends. Calf towards heel, extend inner heels down, extend front ankle to little toe. Now suck the middle buttock in, move forwards, see how the thighs go back and maintaining that straighten the legs. Centre of arches suck into you and ankles away to come down with 2 legs joined (this action helped me to come down very lightly). It was long stay in both legs apart and virasana.


AMVrksasana x 3 We looked at someone who had a bad carrying angle – their elbow bone was pointed and dropping towards the wall. 2nd attempt we had to resist the back elbow away from the wall, pressing towards the front elbow as we jumped up and then lift the ankles up, up, up – lift buttocks so they don’t fall into the wall. Back should become long, make it long! - whole pose felt long and lifted and more awareness in shoulders pressing in. It took the weight and awareness onto the thumb mound spreading across the lower palm to outer wrist, that band had to press. We also saw someone whose elbows were collapsing in towards each other and she said this also was not right – hit inner elbow out if this is your shape. Not in, not out, but firm. Push buttocks in to come down two legs together.

Chatushpadasana x 2 Hold front ankles, extend arms, elbows face each other, no rotation. Lift hips, shoulder blades up and in.

Urdhva Dhanurasana x 10 (lots of supposed ‘last one’s’!) Open palms properly. Come onto the crown of the head, roll outer body up – outer knee, outer thigh, outer hip has to lift up first, it’s the lightest part of the body. As you lift you have to create space in back of knee. Lift the heels and walk in and move the arches into you and suck the buttocks up, up UP!! Resist the elbows forward as the feet come down. To come down extend the tailbone so no pain in the lumbar. On 4th attempt – you are going to learn to bring heels down – arches must lift. Heels up, walk in and suck the buttocks up. Now when you bring the heels down, height in the buttocks, maintain the suction there and arch towards heel to extend heel down and don’t let the heel come inside. 5th Attempt - Come onto crown of head and walk palms closer to feet. Now lift up resisting the back elbow to front elbow and lift up and walk in, roll the chest forward resisting the elbows backwards and find out what happens (I felt a strong action of my back shoulder blades, pressing my organic body forward, it felt like a tremendous opening from the inside out). I missed what she said the effect would be so I asked, curious to know if what I had experienced was what she was looking for. This meant she asked me to do for the group to watch as I learned. I was able to get the action – walking palms closer to feet, walking feet in, buttock suction and resisting back elbow to front elbow roll chest forward, pressing thumb mound band– “Can you see what happens?” this is correct action in the pose, not happening from the peripheral body but happening from within. 8th attempt “Without pushing elbows MOVE energy forwards and find out how your back body will work” 9th attempt same work and then interlock fingers around skull for Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana “Lift head and push chest forwards!” 10th attempt Urdhva Dhanurasana to Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana to Chakrabandasana From dwi pada viparita dandasana – elbows down, hold sides of the mat, head up, chest forwards, walk feet in and catch the ankles there.

AMVirasana Finally!!

Halasana walk out your feet and see that your shoulders come well inside, neck should be supported.

Salamba Sarvangasana she brought us straight down, this time to go up with 2 legs, make arches strong and 2 legs go up. Move forwards from back pelvic rim. Take the whole palm on the back, don’t leave the wrist bent outward. Wrist palm also has to press. Bend knees to Virasana in Sarvangasana move middle buttock forward, knees lengthening up to ceiling. Straighten legs, move ankles up, inner ankle triangle (Between ankle bone and heel) lift up! Inner heel up and small toe side down.

Halasana and walk to right side for Parsva Karnapidasana x 2 on second repeat she said that we were dropping shoulder blade and right side to bend knees to right temple, so before we bent the knees, we had to reinforce the lift of the right side with the right palm to see that there was no collapse there as we bent the legs. Head straight don’t turn.

Malasana heels on shoulderstand raise to Pasana X 2 each side to Malasana extending forwards. In most forward bends we move from the buttocks to extend forwards, here though I want you to move your sit bones towards your heels so that lumbar extends.

Savasana Let the breath settle down. Let go your diaphragm / abdomen and that will help your breath to settle. Release your arms and legs. As your breath settles go to your exhalations.

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