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IYNAUS Autumn Sangha with Abhijata Day 1

The focus of today's workshop was moving from tamas guna to raja guna after our extended period of lockdown. We worked on a dynamic sequence of poses, designed to lift us out of of our langour and into a state of mobility and clarity. She endeavoured to keep 'lectures' to a minimum so that our minds were engaged with the body throughout - it was a tough propostion and at one point she laughingly observed:

“You were all eagerly waiting for for the class to begin and after the class has begun, you are eagerly waiting for the class to end (chuckling) ... long pause ... Human Beings are really funny aren’t they?!”

Her teaching is an absolute master-class in how to use the voice to inspire action and effort. She manages a tone which is simultaneously warm and yet completely commanding. The conviction she has learnt from her Grandfather radiates out of her voice to fire us along and as usual there was a lot for us to learn - sequence below. Because we have a recording of the class to view, these notes are almost a transcript of the class. On the minus side this means they are long and perhaps not as clear as a summary, on the plus side these are Abhi's words and teaching as she said them, not so much of my own interpretation / memory.

Day 1 – IYNAUS Autumn Sangha with Abhijata

Focus of this series of workshops is moving on from tama guna (inertia) to more rajas guna (mobility). The yoga sutras mention this state of languor as an obstacle on the path of yoga, but we can’t just reach into the mind to flip a switch to move out of this. We can use Guruji’s teachings with the body to access the mind, to shift from this state. Let’s try to understand this guna management that can be done with the help of asanas. The normal cautions that we need to take care of ourselves, given that the teacher cannot see all the students. Do not hesitate to take care of injuries etc.

Swastikasana Invocation – Do not look at the device, eyes at eye level. With an inhalation raise your chest up, be tall. The centre area of your chest, ascend it higher up. Trapezius muscles have a lot of ‘nagging energy’ pent up stress, frustrations and irritations that get accumulated there. Learn to descend this clearly down, such that there is a good clarity for the neck.

AMVirasana – Raise your head up, lift up onto the fingertips and from the bottom chest area MOOVE FORWARD – now the fingertips are on the floor, the head is up, chest is up, now from the pelvic girdle, exteend forward and as you extend from the pelvic girdle, move your fingertips further forward. Descend the shoulder blades down, descend the bottom of the sternum (NOT the top sternum) down, exhale and descend it down further, further, further the bottom chest and finally take the head down. See that you can lengthen the inner arm and outer arm together, equally extending forward. Exhale a little sharper and descend the back further down. Roots of the thighs down.

AMSvanasana – Raise your heels up and ascend the entire spine up. Learn to shift the body weight from the front leg to the back leg, from the metatarsels GO BACK, exhale, from the arches to heels go back, shin bones BACK, kneecaps GRIP, exhale and place the heels down. The floating ribs, descend them downwards, shoulders, shoulder blades ascend them upwards.

Jump to uttanasana, feet apart width of mat and concave back. From the pelvic girdle extend forward, from the sternum, move forward. Now the chin has to come up, not just from the chin, but from the bottom ribs. From the bottom ribs look forward and now from the bottom ribs, palms on the floor descend downwards.

Jump back AMS Ascend the shoulders, shoulder blades higher up, push your metatarsels back, frontal ankles hit back. Raise your fingers up and lift the upper arms, pull them higher up. Pressurising your thumb side wrist down, descend the trunk further down, bottom of the sternum has to be pushed towards the legs. Place the fingers down, lift the head and look in front, bend the knees, high jump to

Uttanasana feet together. From the pelvic girdle descend down, plug your kneecaps and thighs.

Tadasana – Feet together, inner heel and outer heel contact the floor evenly. The back of the thighs – inner thighs and outer thighs they should be held firmly, do not have any looseness there, so push your inner back thigh back and let it independently do tadasana. How in tadasana you stand tall. Imagine you are only your thigh, there is no other part of the body, you exist only as a thigh – so can your back thigh inner and outer, equally stand upright in your tadasana and be firm? Maintain that skin of the back thigh there firm and raise the hands into Urdhva Hastasana. From the armpits to the fingertips extend upwards. The moment the back thighs get held firm, you’ll see the arms don’t get swung behind. Bring your hands down to tadasana, forget the backs of the thighs and just take the hands up - see what an oscillation there is. If you forget the backs of the thighs, the hands go back and the thighs project forward – don’t allow this distraction in the body to happen. Hands down. So back of the thighs tadasana, maintain the impression of the inner heel, the outer heel firm on the ground and raise the hands up – notice the control, the grace which comes when you raise your hands up. Now we have to speed things up -not to make slow, careful movements which means you are ‘thoughtfully’ going up. Demo - maintaining the control in the back of the thighs, swift movement to take the hands up.

Swiftly, with control - Urdhva Hastasana – Uttansasana – AMSvanasana – Feet together Eka Pada AMSvasana right leg - from the root of the thigh go towards the right ankle – inner thigh, outer thigh extend to the ankle. Left leg Eka Pada AMSvanasana – left inner thigh, left outer thigh EXTEND to the ankle, now raise the fingers up so that you get a good PUSH away from the ground! AMS – UTT – UHastasana – Tad

Demo - UH – UTT – AMS – Jump right leg forward between the arms to right side Trikonasana – AMS – AMS – Jump left leg to Trikonasana – AMS – UMS - UTT – UH – Tad

For those that can’t jump from AMS to UMS they can roll from one to the others keeping the toes tucked under. Stepping to trikonasasana for those that can’t jump.

Attempt 1

Your jumping from AMS to trikonasana has to be with bent legs. There is a style where this can be done with the arms straight and a high jump. Now we are not going for this but now the movement focus is in the hip and thigh, not about the biceps (which would be more suitable as preparation for the arm balances) but now we need the lightness from the hip and the thigh to go between the legs.

Attempt 2 – 3 to 5 repeats according to your capacity. Tad – UH – UTT – AMS – Right side Trik – AMS- Left side Trik – AMS – Right side Trik – AMS – Left side Trik (x 3 to 5) – AMS – UMS – AMS – UTT – UH – Tad.

See that you do your trikonasana properly – don’t be in trikonasasna with the arm down, head down, chest down – full pose done properly, open the body up and legs, arms firm.

Now repeat sequence x 3-5 repeats with Virabadrasana 2 instead of trikonasana– but omitting UMS in this cycle. See that you don’t come up to Vira 2 and THEN correct by bending the leg more. Can you come from AMS to Vira 2 maintaining the root of the thigh fully down as you raise the arms and chest up.

Tad – UH – UTT – AMS root of the thigh down, down, down VIRA 2 right leg – AMS – VIRA 2 left leg x 3-5 repeats – AMS – UTT – UH – Tad.

Uttanasana legs apart, elbows folded. Side trunk, elbows extend down, down, down.