Day 3 IYNAUS Zoom Intensive - 9th May
Another beautiful Spring day today and different location for a swim. Apologies for camera angle, this is what happens if you give camera to a teenager! Much cooler weather tomorrow, so felt we should make the most of the sunshine today and lovely to be out in nature after Abhi's beautiful pranayama where she reminded us that our inner nature and the outer nature are all manifestations of the same Universal Energy.
For those who are reading this that are unable to attend the intensive, I'll set the scene a little. It feels like a very intimate meeting with Abhi - kind of stripped down and maybe (on the first day at least) a little vulnerable and exposed. She is teaching from a bedroom at home, camera up close, so that most of the time her image fills the screen (my friend Ulpa in New York commented that she felt like Abhi had been to her house after the first workshop!) Family life goes on around her and more than once we've had a mischievous Satvika peeking out from behind Mum, though she soon tires and goes off to find something else to do as Abhi seamlessly continues with her teaching.
Although Abhi can't see most of us, there is a team of 6 panelists who she is observing and will often spotlight their image to make a point about a pose, or show how something is to be done, much as she would have her teachers on the platform in Pune. I get the sense that lock down in India (and perhaps in the States too?) is harsher than here in the UK, where we encouraged to get out in the fresh air for at least an hour's exercise daily. Consequently her teaching focus is to provide comfort and reduce trauma for her unseen audience and to give us each a grounding connection to Iyengar Yoga and our community.
Day 3 IYNAUS Zoom Intensive
Swastikasana Invocation - Sit straight, raise yourself up and sit tall. From the front of your armpits ascend up. Asana is a ‘seat’ – it needs to be comfortable to give you freedom. Demo from side – Top of the shoulder blades have to be descended down and the back armpit has to be coiled from the back to the front. We mentioned yesterday armpits are the storehouses of energy. You get a certain sharpness to bring your mind into the present the first Yoga Sutra is – atha yoganusasanam – NOW begins the exposition of yoga. This NOW is auspicious. “A brooding mind has dull shoulder blades” Activating the shoulder blades bring you to the NOW. Receive the inhalation and see the exhalation go – the breath is what separates between life and death, have gratitude for this auspicious breath. A state of alert passivity.
AMVirasana Let the abdominal area move forward and spread the diaphragm from the centre to the sides.
Tadasana Observe the width of pelvis.
Observe how access to the legs and feet is diminished without support of the floor – they are lacking sharpness – watch this in following 3 poses.:
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana
Jathara Parivartanasana straight legs
Something is amiss! Same problem in inversions. Understand that the legs don’t work alone to straighten – whole structure - legs, pelvis and hips have to work as a team to generate firm, straight legs. To understand this stability of the hips we will work with belts – as many as you have, 4 ideally – but if only 2 then 1 around the hips and 1 around the shins, 3rd belt if available around the thighs. Bend the knees slightly to cinch the belt tighter in and then straighten.
Supta Tadasana with belts Open and stretch the back of your legs. When the hips are reinforced into the body you get firmness in the legs. Use your exhalations to deflate the thighs, like air being let out of tyres until they become flat. Maintain that level of deflation when you inhale and then with the next exhalation, deflate further.
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana with belts (health conditions do with back of legs against the wall) Move the hips towards each other and with your exhalations imagine that the outer thighs and outer hips are being sucked downwards into the ground. More control over the legs? UPP becomes a seat as we become more comfortable in the pose. Guruji said “I am neither a slave of my body, nor a slave of my mind”. We do not yet have this mastery and mind and body control us rather than the other way round.
Anantasana with belts (without raising the leg) so that the lower hip is pushed into the body while she continued her discourse. Extend the inner legs and pound the top hip down for the legs to lengthen.
Tadasana with belts Back edge and front edge of pelvis belt should be parallel. The neighbour of the hip is the groins. Place a 4 folded blanket between the legs.
Supta Tadasana with belts and 4 fold blanket Use your exhalations to deflate the front thighs and extend the back thighs towards the heels. Maintain the deflation on the inhalation. Pranayama detour – as you exhale abdomen deflates, maintain abdominal deflation and inhale and notice how the rib cage moves. Compare with the previous attempt where there was no blanket – see how it gives a sense of ease and comfort in the groins. To prevent the groins becoming tense we have to learn to keep the groins moving away from each other but the hips moving towards each other – here the belts and the blanket teach this action and feel the ease in the groins this creates.
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana with belts and 4 fold blanket Along with the exhalation draw the blanket down to the floor, take a few breaths this way – exhale and draw the blanket downwards, synchronise.
Chaturanga Dandasana leg work with belts and 4 fold blanket (do NOT lift up) toes anchored and palms placed beside the chest. In order to lift the thighs and knees connect from your hips to the outer ankles, groins to the inner ankles X 2 Middle buttock down. Can you see how this brings the refinement, the flow to the action so that it is not aggressive muscular grip? Did this not make your legs beautiful?? (it did!!) Beginners poses may need the brute force, but no true asana is like that – no asana is done with aggression or anger – a smooth flow to the legs, a yogi understands the flow of this universal force so that he is in harmony with nature.
Remove belts from bottom belt upwards.
If we can understand these actions in simple asanas – groins apart and hips closer – arm balances, back bending, inversions, forward bends are all going to become your friends. Human mind creates divisions. Corona Virus creates an opportunity to bring us back together. The same energy flows in all of us, the same breath, the same air is shared by all of us – humans, animals, trees. Understand the flow of energy.