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Abhijata - February 26th - Restorative

As the month of classes starts to draw to a close, the cumulative effects are showing in my body. Abhi's class began today with a looong uttanasana with elbows folded, creating more and more release to flow downwards and I was a little startled for the first time ever, to find my wrists brushing the floor! There followed a sequence of restorative poses with her usual mix of anecdotes from Guruji and Geetaji and experiential learning, where we were given the opportunity to feel each teaching point so that it was understood in our bodies as well as our minds. Sequence below.

I'm ready now to go home. Travelling alone this trip, has given me plenty of time for reflection and I'm ready to pick up the mantle of responsibility (Motherhood and Teacherhood) once more. It's genuinely wonderful to be a student rather than a teacher for a month, but I also feel curiously impotent - standing on the sidelines in medical for example. My (our) whole purpose in life is to help other people and so we need be where we are needed! Generally in medical classes there is a surplus of helpers and I'm just not pushy enough for that kind of environment - If help is needed I'll be at the front of the queue, but I have no wish to 'elbow my way in' at all.

I arrive home on Sunday having lost a night's sleep en route and then begin teaching again on Monday. Don't be surprised if I seem a little sleepy in class as the first class will begin at 11.30pm 'my time' and the second will finish at 3.30am!

Abhijata – 26th February 2020 – Restorative

Swastikasana invocation – Sit straight, sit tall and close your eyes. Make the preparations to bring yourself to the right state for class so that brain becomes receptive – leave behind your morning’s chores. Inhale in such a manner that you are energised and exhale in such a manner that you wash the brain. Make the trapezius muscle thin and release down there so that the neck is free – if the shoulders come up, this loads the brain and there can be no clarity of though with this load. So let there be a new beginning – Guruji has taught us that every day we must start afresh – each day he did a new trikonasana and he never become bored, as in his words "There was always something new to learn". If Guruji himself took this approach then we too should not shy away from accepting that this is a raw beginning. If the brain always dictates what must be done - what must come next in life - we lose that receptivity, sensitivity so learn to be quiet there.

Uttanasana – very long stay - Elbows folded to release downwards (as opposed to other modes of doing when we might pull the body downwards). The front of the body with the exhalation, release and feel how that also benefits the back of the body. The back of the body with the exhalation release and feel how that benefits the front of the body. Find out where the body gets caught. Maybe hamstrings, maybe back muscles, abdominal region – legs may need to spread further, find out! And what happens with the inhalation? If I asked you to further release with the inhalation, a different action is felt from the abdomen.

AMSwastikasana forward bend to bolster, while waiting for the rest of the class to get themselves organised.

Janu Sirsasana Head supported on bolster – Many of you are 'caught' shortening the left side of the waist. Correct that there, the left and the right waist should extend forward equally. Even the lower most portion of the back, can you come forward from there? Use the exhalation a little more forcefully to bring the sacrum and lower back forward, eveness in the sides of the trunk. Elbows wide, there should be no traffic jam at the base of the neck, release there. If the bent leg thigh comes up you cannot release the back – you may need to raise the seat a little higher for the thigh to go down and the back to release forwards. The lungs are on the back of the body as well as the front of the body (and Guruji was especially aware of the lungs action on the sides of the body too) so breathe there. This is why the forward bends are good for asthmatics, where the supine poses only further cause problems for the breathing. Backbends open the chest by contracting the back muscles (like when we are lifted up on a bolster), whereas forward bends open the back body for breathing.

Only if the lower back moves forward is it possible for you to mobilise the lower ribs, this part remains unused as also the last part of the brain is not used.

Repeat Janu Sirsasana with a prop – ideally holding slanting plank or similar – so that the hands can be much wider and feel how that spreading is possible. Feel the centre spine and how the paraspinal muscles spread – like a leaf – how it has that central line and the veins radiating out, in that manner spread. As the back is widening feel how that releases the sides of the diaphragm and you can move forward. Back becomes the leader now, it takes the centre stage for you to move forwards.

Virasana seate