Day 2 IYNAUS Zoom Intensive – 8th May
A wonderful sunny day in the UK today. Morning walk followed by icy cool lake swim and practice on the bank with the promise of Abhi's class to come home to. In years gone by, I strongly resisted the idea of an outside practice as I felt that being within four walls created a helpful containment of the energy. I imagined the energy dissipating into the air - a bit like when a choir sings outside, the sound gets lost. I have now discovered though, that practicing on the earth actually enhances the energy - rather than the energy disappearing into the sky, I get this wonderful grounding into the earth and I can reach much deeper into my practice with a far greater sense of connectness. On top of this I don't feel I am missing out on anything - I have spent far too many years locked up in a bedroom practicing yoga while the sun shines and the water sparkles outside. I have come to realise that discipline without joy is pointless and I know that my students too, will get more out of a class when I am radiating the beauty of a spring day with sunkissed skin and water weed tangled in my hair!
Earlier this year a swan has arrived to take up residence at the lake and he is starting to get a bit territorial. Every time I got in for a swim he came close and made a kind of repeated honk burr sound - it was hard to tell whether it was a friendly greeting or whether he was accompanying me to the nearest exit to vacate the lake at the first opportunity! It added a frission of fear to the swim as I was half ready for him to launch an attack at any moment - I think he is plucking up courage to take me on ....
Today we looked at the links between like poses - how Vira 3, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1, Supta Padangusthasana 1 and Eka Pada Sirsasana are all versions of the same pose, just rotated and how each can teach you something useful for the other. Once again we worked on creating sharpness in the hips and observed the biochemical changes this brought to body and mind.
After the class I spent a long evening at the allotment weeding and planting. A perfect day??
Day 2 IYNAUS Zoom Intensive – 8th May
Swastikasana Invocation - Sit tall, raise your eyes up and then raise your chest up to the level of your vision, raise the sides of the naval, raise the lower abdomen to reach the height of your chest. Let the entire body be uplifted in this manner. Collar bones wide, trapezius downward and sides of neck elongated. See that in your efforts to listen that you don’t tighten the sides of your neck – that will also tighten the brain cells. Consciously take your face toward the back of your head and let the face be soft. Let the process of inhalation and exhalation augment this process of gathering yourself for the class. Maintain the focal point of the eye level so that the inner lift is maintained.
AMV Bolster support for front body. Body simultaneously elongating forward and widening. Experiment with different arm positions and their different effects – What happens elbows folded? What happens arms stretching forward? Hands wide? Fingers interlocked behind rolling the shoulders back and raising the arms to work on the shoulders? The arm position we choose should vary according to our personal state (maybe you missed a night’s sleep and head is heavy? Maybe shoulders are stiff? etc etc) Let us try and decipher what needs to be done when.
AMSvanasana palms turned outward press the thumb side of the wrist and lift your shoulder blades upwards and open your armpits – release those energy reserves. Raise the root of the thighs higher up, raise the spine higher up and keep growing, keep evolving in the pose – don’t put a full stop.
Classical AMVirasana taking support of bolster, feet apart sitting between the feet. Sides of the navel forwards and downwards and ground the feet and shins – strong contact with Mother Earth.
Eka Pada AMSvanasana – take the leg so that it is a continuation of the angle of the back. Lengthen through the right ankle so that it drags the entire spine upwards. AMVirasana to recover between sides. Let your left leg draw your entire body upwards, left knee, left thigh, left ankle drawing you upwards.
Eka Pada AMSvansana heels touching the wall X 2 each side. Raise the right leg and see if the heel (not just the toes) can reach towards the wall. All the body parts have to contribute to the pose – your hands, your arms, your back, your shoulder blades all have a role to play – your sticky mat, the wall, your family next door all have a role to play, so gather all those components for your eka pada AMSvanasana.
Slanting Uttanasana feet apart, elbows folded and buttocks spread wide on the wall. What effect does it have if you walk further away from the wall? The closer the feet are to the wall, the more physically active the pose, but feet further way allows you to experience some mental quietness in the pose.
Ardha Uttanasana palms on the wall, feet apart, spread the thighs apart, weight even on outer edges of the feet. Press the shoulder blades and armpits down, but keep elbows resisting upwards and see the centre diaphragm does not hang down – widen from the centre to the sides.
Pras Pad buttocks / thighs / heels at the wall. Use the wall to teach the thigh action – outer thigh AND inner thigh must touch the wall evenly. Calf muscle, inner and outer should touch the wall evenly and the entire back of the leg that is touching the wall has to spread, buttock bones widen on the wall. Don’t be conditioned to always consider Pras Pad as a resting pose.
Baddha Konasana at wall while we listened to lecture about conditioning – we seek out what we like and avoid what we don’t like (attachment to pleasure aversion to pain) this is a klesha. To avoid getting caught in this endless cycle, Guruji taught that purification of memory is the key. We have to use intelligence to discriminate further and not just fall into conditioning.
Ardha Prasarita Paddotonasana palms at wall. Elbows UP armpits DOWN. Both lengthening and widening the pose. Observe the symmetry of the pose.
Virabhadrasana 3 - palms at wall. From ardha uttanasana maintaining the alignment, stand on right, raise left leg. Observe how the body weight falls to the right side. Like eka pada AMSvanasana let the left leg, the left ankle draw the whole pose back, toes in savasana. Pull the ankle backwards, back, back, back!
Head supported Vira 3 X 2 and if possible, wall support for back foot. Elbows folded, head supported. Spread the chest. Let the ankle have the energy to pull you backwards towards the wall.
Right side Supta Pad 1 – right angle only - right heel exactly above right buttock bone (so that it is a Vira 3 on the floor – supta pad 1, vira 3, eka pada sirsasana, utthita hasta padangusthasana 1 are all the same pose, just turned - so if you can understand what is required in one of these poses, all of the other poses will also improve). So, what is the troublesome part of Vira 3? The top leg in Vira 3, is the floor leg in Supta 1 – so can you teach your left leg here? Left back thigh down and left groin to the left heel extend. From the right heel, push the right sacrum down. In order to access the left thigh further, raise the left foot slightly up on the skirting board or tightly rolled blanket. 1) Inhale and as you exhale left groin, left inner thigh, PUSH it down 2) Inhale and as you exhale left thigh, from top to bottom SEND IT DOWN 3) Inhale, exhale SEND IT DOWN.
Right side Vira 3 head supported (or chest supported tired / shaky / medical condition) Make the top leg a supta padangusthasana 1 leg – what did you do? Send the left inner thigh towards the wall. Push the back thigh up like chaturanga dandasana.
Right side Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 back to the wall, heel supported on stool / back rest of chair + blankets. Right leg is the standing leg of Vira 3 and left leg is the lifted leg. Where does the fatigue show in UHP 1? The standing leg hip gives way - so left leg outer hip CUT IN. Eureka moment - the left hip has to be CUT IN if the left leg is to be tamed.
Right side Vira 3 repeat (independent or supported your choice) – Bring this discovery from UHP1 into your Vira 3 - THE LIFTED LEG HIP HAS TO BE CUT IN to make that leg stable.
Uttanasana elbows folded, legs apart. Longer exhalations to release down. If the hip is really painful, lie down on side trunk like anantasana to relieve that hip pain.
Left side Supta Pad 1 heel raised Bend the bottom leg and cut the right hip IN to the body and from the groin to the heel, lengthen to the wall (This is needed where pain or looseness comes in the hip - osteoporosis, bursitis of hip, after pregnancy we also need this hip contraction for the hand balances). The right groin should not come up or the abdomen hardens hip IN and groin DOWN and right back of the thigh closer and closer to the floor. Now bend the right knee and don’t do anything to the hip when you straighten the leg – is the difference clear? (it was crystal clear).
Left side Vira 3 head supported Bend the right knee and hip IN to stretch the right leg straight and see the firmness that comes to the leg. Repeat.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasna 1 we are doing supported pose here so the problem is much less apparent than the balancing pose in centre of the room, head to shin – here you can imagine how the standing leg caves in and hip gives way. Bend left knee, cut the left hip in and then straighten the left leg with that intense connection, raising the sides of the navel UP. Repeat consolidate the action. Feel the biochemical change this sharpness brings – you feel light, positive, ready for anything!
Eka Pada Sirsasana (or choice supta virasana / supta baddha konasana / eka pada viparita dandasana on chair / supta pad 2 if tired / menstruating). Right leg forward half way is standing leg of Vira 3 and lifted leg of eka pada sirsasana is lifted leg of Vira 3. Bend the top leg, cut the top hip IN and stretch the leg straight and understand the firmness this creates in the pose. Repeat both sides twice. Short duration.
Sarvangasana We’ve been with the hips for the last hour and half, feel in sarvangasana how that firmness of the hips brings the lightness to the pose. The asanas that we have worked on have given access to the hips. For health / immunity this access that asanas bring is vital. As raw beginners we could not receive instructions in sarvangasana but now many adjustments are possible. Don’t let the back of the neck shrink – release the back of the head down on the floor, let the throat rest at the base of the neck and swallow your saliva – this should be easy – if your throat is puffed and hard that is a sign that your adjustment is not good in sarvangasana and you should come down and release in halasana.
Paschimottonasna Beginners should always go for paschimottonasna after sarvangasana, the weakness in the back causes a strain which paschimottonasna relieves.
Bharadvajasana 1 x 2 each side – this relieves any neck strain. Descend shoulder blades / trapezius. Come back to how we started the class – raise the level of the eyes and now the entire rib cage ASCEND UP to the level of the eyes.
Paschimottonasna both sides lengthen forward and then go for 3rd repeat
Bharadvajasana 1 emotional perspective on twisting – it enables you to see the other side of the story, so if you are of a stubborn nature, twisting is going to be difficult. As you rotate to the left, don’t just look from your left eye, but look from the right eye – so that you see the other side completely.
Viparita Karani brick and bolster at the wall Unique configuration in Viparita Karani the abdominal area forms a plateau like a still lake, followed by a waterfall at the chest and in the throat, there is a chin lock, which bathes the thyroid in blood. It is a boon for gynaecological issues, emotional issues. Exhale in such a manner that you experience the quietness in your eyes, in your face, in your ears.
Swastikasana viparita karani for stiffness in the groins or bad hip condition – abdomen and groins soften and descend further. Exhale in such a manner that your groins descend further and further, exhale in such a manner that the abdomen softens and descends further. As you inhale let the gentle waterfall spread into your chest and lungs. Let the lake become still and quiet so that the exhalation does not create any ripples.