Abhijata - 19th February 2020 - Backbends

A great start to the day with a backbends class taught by Abhi. Today the focus was on recognising and correcting imbalances in how we perform poses - the obvious ones like how we kick up into full arm balance but also less obvious, such as how the dominant side tends to pull the weaker side up in urdhva dhanurasana. We also looked closely at how we came OUT of things, which is just as important to observe and correct. This class was just right for what I needed, as my left side has begun to bulge out and the class helped me to understand what is causing this and showed me how to begin to correct it. We did TONS of preparation for tadasana drop backs and kapotasana and I was disappointed not to have a go at the full poses after being warmed up so well. I do now have buttocks of steel however, definitely an imprint that will stay for a while!

After the class I had a lovely sunny afternoon at the pool with Ewa, followed by assisting in the medical class. Time is going so quickly and I realised that this coming weekend is my last one here, as I'll be flying home after the class a week on Saturday.

My arm sensor should be arriving on Friday evening, thanks to Dheeraj - whose apartment I am staying in - for following it up for me with India Post. So I have a couple of days with no blood sugar readings (I bought a back up finger prick testing system, but cannot get it to work - I'll try it with another new set of batteries tomorrow). This is not ideal, but should manage ok.

Abhijata - 19th February 2020 - Backbends

Swastikasana for the invocation – Gather yourself, get ready.With your palms folded in front, raise yourself up and become tall. Shoulders, shoulder blades well positioned, back ribs towards the front ribs.

AMVirasana – Extend the arms, walk your palms forwards. Back ribs down, front ribs forward.

AMSvanasana Straighten the arms, straighten the legs, move the fronts of the thighs upwards, open the fingers and check that you are equal on both sides. The weight should be equal on the right hand and the left hand. Weight distribution between right leg and left leg. Study the behaviour of the 2 sides of your body.That is a big lesson in itself.


Urdhva Baddangullyasana X 2 – From the armpits, LIFT UP, from the upper arms ASCEND UP. Lock the elbows and move the upper arms back. Do not bring the head forwards. Head forward and arms backwards are two different things - you can't subsitute one for the other! Middle buttocks into the body and ascend up! Learn to take the upper arms back, but keep the palms forward.

Virasana Parvatasana – Adjust your calf muscles, thigh muscles, heels. Now the arm stretch in parvatasana and the arm stretch in baddangullyasana are separate actions. First bring the arms forward and now lengthen the upper arms away from you. Now that cut where that wrist and the forearms meet, that cut has to become sharper, and now lengthen the upper arms away from you and take the arms up. Now after lengthening the arms up, shoulders, shoulderblades should sit down. From the upper arms go BACK. Look up with your eyes - thumbs side wrist, little finger side wrist of equal height, fingers open, knuckles open and now, move the upper arms BACK. Lift the upper arms up and move them BACK. Go on opening the knuckles, DON'T GIVE UP! The palms underneath your knuckles, they have to go UP to the ceiling. Now look to the front and once again take the upper arms BACK. These simple asasnas are the ones that will teach you about the deeper layers of your body. Do not let the interlock become loose, The fingers have to go into the pits- if the interlocking is loose, you can't reach your upper arms, so let that interlocking be firm. Bring the arms down and increase the interlocking grip, maintain this completely and go up. Outer upper arm, inner upper lift up! So looking straight infront, find out if you can move the upper arms BACK.

Adho Mukha Svanasana – you have to lift up and push back at the ROOT of the thighs and upper arms, deltoids, biceps, triceps, trapezius you have to lift up and move them into you.

Adho Mukha Vrksasana – Now we have a usual leg to kick up with and an unusual one? Go up first with your usual leg and observe how the weight falls. Then go up with the less familiar one and again observe how the weight falls. When kicking up with the right leg, the weight fell to the outer side of the left palm (and I also felt that the left elbow gave way slightly). See also that the opposite hip / ankle has the grip inward, not to get pushed out to the other side. Now you are going to go up with your right leg and come down with your right leg and this time I want you to observe how the weight falls as you come down (repeat left side up left side down). Then I want you kick up with both legs and find out who is the leader? Who touches the wall first? And then again observe the coming down. Each of these we did a few times, first of all to observe the imbalance and then to correct what we observed to become more even.

Virabhadrasana 1 – Working on the arms, keep the elbows properly gripped or take the belt a little tight and hit out into that. Now extend the arms up and maintain that grip. Lift up, up, up and then upper arms take them back, back, back and then only the palms a little forwards, maintaining the upper arms BACK!

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Ustrasana – Be grounded in the shins, front ankles and metatarsals – take a blanket those of you that need to, so that area can press. We did a few times and we had to notice how one side the hand always caught first. Then we had to observe that side of the body. What was the difference between the side that caught first and the other? Side that caught first, that side of the sternum was broader and that shoulder blade, back rib gripped better. And then when you come up, what side leads? Understand just doing this once or twice, not a problem, but a whole lifetime of building up one side at the expense of the other, then you are inviting a problem. That is why yoga asana is superior to other physical disciplines – tennis, badminton, even football- all on one side getting stronger as the other grows weaker. The footballer may run with both legs but s/he still has their kicking foot and all the intelligence, the action is on that side. One side over-developed, one side under-developed.

Virasana Parvatasana – same actions – extending the upper arms upward, gripping the elbows and taking the upper arms further and further backwards. Go beyond the normal barrier.

Ustrasana – fingers interlocked so that the hands can reach at the same time. Notice how when you undo the interlock the elbows widen outward? Minimise that bulging of the elbow.

Demo – Now we don’t want the inner shoulder blades to crush the spine. Interlock the fingers with elbows bent and roll the OUTER shoulder blades in, maintaining the space on the inner. Now with the grip of the OUTER shoulder blade, straighten the arms. Different? Definitely yes – as well as more space, there was a much more effective broadening and coiling action of the chest.

We took it in turns for tadasana, drop backs to the wall. NOT falling into the wall and pushing away to come up, but a more controlled action - first arching back (hands on the waist) and coiling the spine in to look at at the wall, whatever level you arch back to, whichever line of the tiles you see on the wall, that is where you place the palms, without falling and coming up evenly. Do not walk the palms down the wall, that is not today’s lesson. Those waiting, standing back arch – she asked for them not to drop to the floor, as they were doing just because they could and not concentrating on the required action.

Urdhva Dhanurasana – Here we observed many different variables, I’ll try to remember some of them. Those that cannot straighten the arms take the props – bricks, bolsters whatever is required.Take hands and feet as wide as the mat.

1) As you go up, one side leads the way and the other side gets up only because it is dragged up by the other side? Once you have observed that, try to go up more evenly. That is the beauty of observing your mistakes, then only you can correct them. Guruji said that once the ignorance has been recognised, then the learning can truly begin.

2) When you come down, notice how you land on the mat. Are you dragged over to once side as you come down? Why is that? Can you correct that and come down more evenly?

3) Walk the feet in.

4) Now hands and feet are as wide as the mat and I want you to observe the space that you are able to keep in the sacrum, there is no jamming (Slipped discs go with the stool and the 2 bolsters at the grille so that there is absolutely no question of jamming the spinal vertebrae). Those that can, compare with legs closer, even legs together so you understand what is the difference. So first legs wider to get the spread and then that has to be maintained for you to bring the legs closer. If you just go straight for legs close, you don’t understand what spread is possible, first this has to be learnt.

5) We have walked the feet in, so now we have to walk the hands in GO! How are the palms – is one side coming closer to the ear than the other?

6) Now hands and feet have walked in, I want you to rock the weight to the leg side so that you can lift the heel of the palm UP! demo on stage, repeatedly rocking backwards and forwards so that the heels of the hands become light enough to lift off the of the floor.

Wall Kapotasana – kneeling some distance away from the wall (you have to judge). From ustrasana arching to stretch the arms back to the wall. We are not walking the hands down or taking the head to the feet. Going down evenly, lifting up evenly. Many, many repeats at the wall and in the centre of the room.

Adho Mukha Svanasana – raise the sides of the body up to release the back muscles.

Supta Padangusthasana 1

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Pasasana if possible, if not ardha matsyendrasana (knee problem, balance problem etc)

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Sirsasana – 1)Take the legs apart like utthita hasta padasana, toes pointing forwards and move the middle buttock forward and rejoin the legs maintaining this action. 2) Bend the legs to virasana and raise the knees up to vertical, sucking the buttock deep inward as if you were going to drop back. Now maintain the thighs IN THAT LINE and unfold the shins, without the thighs dropping forward – now only take the front ribs back WITHOUT changing the thighs position X 3 on third go, she enforced feet, knees together.

Setubandha sarvangasana – not brick, hands in the back chest, classical pose (feet at wall for those that need)

Halasana – bolster or 3 fold blankets under shoulders, no stool or chair.

X legs savasana

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