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Day 4 IYNAUS Zoom Intensive - Foward Bends 10th May

I started the day with an early pranayama class taught by Rajiv Chanchani, followed by my own practice, followed by Abhi's class - a lot of yoga! so only a little time to get down to the allotment in the chill of a grey windy day before a virtual Sunday dinner with my children, sisters and parents, all in our various homes eating and chatting together. It is gratifying to see how my parents, who are in their eighties, have got to grips with the technology so that we're now able to continue our tradition of Sunday dinner online, as if it's the most natural thing in the world.

In class today we worked intensively on forward bends and explored the concept of ichhati the desire to do, the desire to learn. We ended with more beautiful pranayama to send us off to our various days peaceful and sparkling from the inside out.

Day 4 IYNAUS Zoom Intensive

Swastikasana invocation - Change the order of your leg crossing. Sit straight, sit tall and widen the chest, palms folded. Have a firmness in your sitting. Is this a physical or a mental adjustment? it is not possible to demarcate between the two. If the mind wavers the body wavers. No oscillations in your sitting position.

Uttanasana extending forward - Head resting on a chair or stool, elbows folded. For a few moments just be there – don’t do anything.

See that the feet are aligned, soles of the feet spread and open. Spread the back of the calf, the back of the thigh – widen. With each inhalation can you increase the distance between the thighs – receive the sensation on the outer thigh, outer calf, outer hip. Now resisting the thighs backward, can you move forward from pelvic area – pelvic area has to be ejected forward. Many times repeated with emphasis “From the pelvic area move forward”

Seated posture of choice while she spoke – Because of this unusual time, we are taking the opportunity to increase our sensitivity and understanding of the asanas.

We have taken up and stuck with the practice of yoga because of our interest in the subject. Guruji used to use the word ‘Zeal’ – he said the zeal to learn has to be there. What is the mental fabric of the word ‘Zeal’? Guruji lived from moment to moment in his asana -the difference between Guruji’s practice and ours was that he didn’t take anything for granted. Though you may have seen him with a watch, this was not to tell him how long to stay, but it acted as a chronometer – he took cognisance of time AFTER he did what he had to do in the asana. This desire is a very important part of it.

इच्छति ichhati – The desire to do, the desire to learn

Trikonasana – Do you have the inner desire to correct your mistakes in trikonasana? For example, in all of us the lower side of the torso is constricted as compared to the upper side of the body. If we are lacking in ichhati we will not be motivated to correct.

Uttanasana extending forward to chair and bolster – Extra height on the chair so that trunk is parallel to the floor. Uttanasana translates as ‘Intense Stretch’ for it to be intense there has to be a fullness to the action. Spread thighs, knees, calf muscles. No part of the abdomen should contact the thighs. Keep your buttocks back and use your hands now to draaag yourself forwards – your skin, your muscles, your tissues, your bones – they should all move forwards and shift your elbows still more forwards. Now with your exhalation, your lower most abdomen, move it forwards.

Uttanasana extending downwards – place elbows on bolster forearms apart not folded (or other height to suit your flexibility) here she gave a very clear demonstration of flowing down, releasing down from the lower spine so that we could understand the action she was looking for. From the lower spine, move downwards, descend the abdomen, descend the lower spine, go on moving downwards. Reduce the height if you’re reaching easily. From the sides of the navel mooove downwards and feel that mobility from the lower back. Your ichhati has to be with you every moment to go on an on releasing further down.

Seated pose of choice (upavista konasana / baddha konasana / virasana). Patanjali lists 9 obstacles to the path of yoga. We need desire, we need tapas to overcome these obstacles. Is this desire always present? Do we meet our satisfaction point very easily?

Trikonasana - Root of the right thigh drawing back and EJECT the right side pelvis away from the legs. If there is something there you can grasp hold of with the right hand (trestle, bed frame, piece of furniture) then hold it and root of the thigh moving one way PULL the pelvic, the right side of the body the other way. This is not a physical adjustment but a manifestation of your desire ichhati, to complete the execution of what you started.

Pras Pad With the same intention - goal is not to get the head on the floor, nor to rest since we have not done so much physical work yet. Do not put the crown of the head on the floor and make a full stop, but keep the elbows down and move the lower back down, pelvic, sides of the navel – take them down. Move the eyes down, nose, ears, chin, sternum all flowing down.

We are using forward bends to teach the concept of ichhati – the honest execution of that concept. In a class we have a sequence to get this release of the lower back: we start with standing poses, then standing forward bends (uttanasana, parsvottonasana, prasarita paddottonasana) and step 3 is seated forward bends. After the initial rapid improvements we experience as a beginner, we reach a plateau where progress is slow – we begin to neglect. Today let our resolution be to mobilise the lower back for forward bends.

Adho Mukha Paschimottonasna buttock bones on the edge of the chair X 2 – bolster against the soles of the feet if flexible or a second chair to move forwards to like pavanmuktasana if you are stiff – do not move from hands or chest or stomach MOOOVE from the lower back. Look at your feet and let the lower back slide towards your feet. Let it glide forward. Without your hands use your lower back itself to move forwards. Exhalation will not help you go forward, it will help you to go down - inhalation will help you to move forwards towards the feet. Rest for a few breaths and then repeat. Find out what you need to become comfortable (a chair? another bolster?) – if you can become comfortable with asanas, they are going to come running to you.

Paschimottonasna head supported on bolster continuing this movement forwards from the lower back. Height under the buttocks if not managing to mobilise the lower back. Hold onto your feet but don’t use the muscular grip to pull forwards. Your aim is to take the pelvic girdle forwards – NOT the head NOT the chest NOT the stomach! Pelvic girdle forwards! Moment to moment we are going to face this intense stretch honestly.

Dandasana Observe how the thighs roll in. The moment we go forwards to paschimottonasana the thighs roll out. Spread the legs apart to teach the inner thighs to move from top to bottom.