Day 2 IYNAUS Autumn Sangha with Abhijata
I'm discovering how different it is to attend an intensive (and blog about it) whilst being in the thick of 'normal' life - quite a different propostion to being in Pune where all of life's responsibilities are lifted off of my shoulders.
Today we had a fantastic standing poses class and we learnt how to do some of the most strenuous poses with an even mind, so that the energy was not depleted. In Virabhadrasana 1 the whole body went back to the spine, so that even while we bent the forward leg, the body was held completely back - like when Tom would put a single paw on Jerry's tail to pin him down as he tried to scamper away! (Abhi's analogy, not mine!!) Virabhadrasana 3 with the anterior body held close to the posterior body and the proper involvement of the back body, was a revelation - not only not tiring, but also the balance was so steady and stable. Abhi explained that Vira 3 is a posterior pose and this gives it a different neuro chemistry. The amount of standing poses we did - and yet somehow still felt fresh at the end - is a testament to the skill of Abhi's teaching.
"Through the asanas you become aware, you expand, you penetrate, you change, you evolve and all this makes us competent to live a happy life. To live a life of sensitivity and receptivity".
Day 2 – IYNAUS Autumn Sangha with Abhijata
Any seated position for invocation – From the anus to the crown of the head align your sitting position – do not push yourself forward. Keep the abdomen and intestines in contact with your spine. Let the mind be stabilised within. Keep the peripheral body up and broad. Mould the body in such a manner that it is possible for the mind to reach within. Don’t shrink. Connect from the inner core to the outer body and from the outer body to the core. Be stable. Be silent.
AMVirasana or Rope AMSvanasana if you have ropes available. Extend well to bring the freedom. Keep the arms a little apart and wherever you find the pain, where it’s sore – learn to release from that area. We need to freshen up the muscular body after yesterday’s work. You have to charge your body and design your AMS to bring back that elasticity. Once in a while raise your head up and stretch yourself further forward.
Uttanasana legs apart, arms by the side and head down. Raise ball of foot on support if calves are sore. Raise the feet up if hamstrings are the problem. If pelvic abdominal area is sore from the jumpings you may want to put the rope for the root of the thigh and extend the sides of the abdomen forwards. You design your uttanasana so that your body is recharged.
Padangusthasana holding the big toes, dorsal concave, feet apart so that the shoulders and clavicles find their place.
Pada Hastasana bending the knees might give you momentary comfort but there is no long-term gain, so instead spread the feet a little wider until you can take the legs straight and then extend the trunk down, extend the chest down, extend the abdominal area down.
Upavista Konasana to bring some relief to the groin / thigh. Extend the back of the leg well. Place your palms by the side of your hips, lift your seat up, extend the legs further, come forward from your hip / sacroiliac area. Parsva Upavista Konasana Be tall and turn the back well.
2 belts supine urdva prasarita padasana, legs spread wide, holding the belts back completely grounded, open up the pelvic groin area. From the groins to the inner edges of the feet, extend yourself well, find the width comes to the pelvic area. This can be done legs against the wall for fatigue / injury.
Supta Padangusthasana 2 From right to left, turn the abdominal area. The sideways leg, move it a little more animatedly so that the pelvic soreness is released (we were bouncing it up and down to get the movement). Open up the soles, open up the arch and stretch the down leg especially, cutting the outer hip IN. Give your body a wake-up call!
Prasarita Paddotonasana Legs apart, hands down, head down. Stamp the outer edges of your feet well, inner thighs to the outer thighs, hit out.
Sirsasana (alternative viparita dandasana) Extend your back body upwards, eyes looking straight and from the buttock to the heel stretch yourself up well. Your outer hips CUT in, your outer ankles CUT in. Middle buttock into the body as you stretch yourselves up. Spread legs hip width apart and roll the back of the thighs from the inside to the outside and extend the inner legs up to bring the legs back together.
Parsva Sirsasana Rotate the hips, the legs well – let the left hip roll over, shoulders wide, sharpen your inner legs, dorsal into the body. When turning to the left side, the right hip has to be the driver of the pose.
Eka Pada Sirsasana half way only and open up the back of the thighs. Roll the top leg back thigh, inside out.
Virasana and Parsva Virasana in Sirsasana toes pointing down. Extend the front thighs like bhekasana. From the root of the thighs extend to the knees, middle buttock in.
Sirsasana and other inversions are a good way to recover from the previous day’s fatigue.
Tadasana – spine and the anterior body should run parallel to each other.
Trikonasana Stand firm on your left heel, the moment you go on your left heel, your left thigh, the left pelvis is taken back, maintain this back and extend the right side of your trunk and go down. Back leg thigh, turn outwards, turn it upwards – left thigh, left pelvis, left abdomen exhale and rotate. 2nd side -raise the toes of the back foot lifted upwards – all the 5 toes lift up. That naturally takes your thigh back.
Tadasana We have heard the instruction to take the thighs back – but the entire pelvic structure has to go back. So as if I’m standing behind, holding you here (cups frontal hip) and pulling you back. Go inwards to make this adjustment – if necessary spread the legs a little apart. Raise the 10 toes up.
Utthita Hasta Padasana all 10 toes up then turn right leg out completely keeping left toes up, back leg outer thigh, CLIP it back Parsvakonasana left foot toes up and thigh back, abdomen back, head back, shoulders back. Left leg back and roll it out. Left pelvis, turn it outwards. Lengthen the right side of your chest.
Tadasana 10 toes up and take the body back - More experienced students will understand that although it a physical adjustment to take the thigh back, you yourself went back and were a little more composed in the pose – you felt connected to your core better – even though it was a physical technique, mentally you were more with yourself.
Parsva Utthita Hasta Padasana. Extend the arms out to the side if your arms are painful, you can alleviate that pain by sucking the bottom up and pressing the shoulders down – that brings a little density to the arm. Parsvakonasana 2nd side Lift the toes up so that they get aeriated.
Upavista Konasana to recover. Study of the theory of yoga cannot be taken in isolation – both theory and practice of yoga are important – one cannot substitute for the other.
AMS As though you’re shifting your whole body and putting it into the back of your legs. Go on raising upwards as though you have no arms. The arms to the side chest go UP UP UP and back towards the leg so there is no weight on either hand. The back leg back, abdominal area ASCEND UP, pubic area ASCEND UP as though you have become armless. Go UP to go back. (repeatedly).
Vira 1 Preparation Turning with arms raised up, without bending the knee. The front body should not be aggressively pushed forward – the front body has to stay back - remember in the invocation how I said to keep the abdomen, intestine towards the spine? Keep it there, but middle buttock into the body. Do not dig in the kidneys. Raise the toes of your front leg so that the body weight shifts to the back leg (take a brick under the front foot if you wish, youngsters do independently). Don’t push yourself forwards – be with your spine and ascend yourself up. Stay back, go back, back (repeatedly). This is a time of meditation for you – be there – go with all of the instructions I gave you and weave them into a garland and BE there for a couple of moments.
So this is dynamic meditation.
Baddha Konasana Pushing a car with no engine. To get a car moving from zero miles per hour to 1 mile per hour – how much energy is needed? Compare this with how much energy is needed to change the speed from 1 mile per hour to 2 miles per hour. The difference is always 1, but the first requires a tremendous amount of energy, but relatively speaking the second requires much less. The body is predominantly tamas guna, to mobilise this body, there is no alternative to sweat. You have to spend this energy – because through this body, working with the asanas, we have to learn to penetrate, because your energy, soul, prana - they are all further in.
Vira 1 Full pose bent leg. Before you bend the leg – you have to move backwards to bend the leg to go forwards. Raise up, move BACK to go forward, move BACK to go forward, move BACK to go forward. Now to come up – go BACK and ascend, go BACK and ascend, go BACK and ascend. Turn for other side. Hands up, be in contact with the spine, whatever is in front of the anterior spine and whatever is behind your skin and rib cage of the front body – they have be close to each other. Bend the leg Go BACK to come forward – how in vira 2 you pull on the back side to come forward? in that manner go BACK to come forward. Be in contact with the spine – otherwise you hang there. This way the lightness is there, the load does not come on the heart. Now go BACK to come up (repeated over and over as we came up).
So understand if your body is placed in the right place, going inside is not tiring. Efforts becoming effortless is the ultimate asana.
Repeat Vira 1 Hook back and go in, front body is in contact with the spine, mentally go back – it’s a repose in the pose. Go back! No part of the pelvic girdle should rest on the thigh. Go BACK to come up (repeatedly). Reminds her of a Tom and Jerry cartoon, how Jerry held Tom back with just a single paw on the tail! You have to be held back so that there is no pressure on the heart – otherwise Vira 1 is not done by heart patients as it may bring on palpitations. Be back with the spine and then there is no pressure.
Ardha Chandrasana Your organic body and your nervous body, they are closely connected. Use wall for support if you wish – balance is not the concern. The left side of the body has to be held up. Demo (as when learning this she didn’t understand it very easily). The upper section (which is facing the ceiling) has to be held up like the tiger holds the cub in its teeth, so it doesn’t sink down onto the lower body. Repeat right side x 2 more – 1st attempt- the left side, PELVIS, CHEST hold it up! the right shoulder blade, keep it into the body and lift the left side OFF the right side, so it can open. For the right side to open, left side has to be UP. 2nd attempt – remember trikonasana / parsvakonasana where we lifted the toes so that the thigh was held back? That has to happen - the lifted leg frontal thigh must not project forwards. Go into ardha chandrasana and create the lift of the upper flank of the body like the tiger cub being picked up and courageously raise the left leg, now the left thigh should not project forward, hold it back! The top leg thigh should not sleep UP! UP! now while landing down the top leg should not sleep ACTIVATE the lifted leg and slowly land it to trikonasana – DON’T DROP! Carefully place it with that firmness. Repeat 2 attempts on the left side, with the wall to remove the concern of the balance to be able to listen. 1) Lift of upper body to the ceiling 2) Front thigh to the back thigh 3) Turn toes of up foot towards the ceiling and take leg higher (see pic) 4) Active leg to place it down.
Ardha Chandrasana experience - lightness in the body brings the lightness and swiftness in the mind.
Repeat Ardha Chandrasana – same teaching points, but also work on the bottom leg. While going up, rolling the right thigh inside to the outside and right buttock IN, to come up. The back of the leg well extended.
Vira 3 Anterior body close to the posterior body – we tend to push the front body down and it hangs. We have to make this adjustment without making the back body slouch, so in order to keep the back sharp we will work with the arms out to the side. First of all some learning in Urdhva Hastasana. A few times, compare how the back feels with the arms extended out to the side, palms up, to how the back feels with the arms extended straight up. With the arms extended sideways, you feel the back ribs going in and trapezius rolling down so the back is active. Take the hands down by the side (to undo the imprint) and then extend the arms straight up – back is not so active? So to do the pose, we will extend the arms out to the side and then maintaining that back sensation, extend the arms up. Bend the right leg, go forward (into vira 3) ANTERIOR BODY CLOSE TO THE SPINE, don’t hang it down, back ribs in and extend the little fingers and GRIP the top leg thigh – GRIP the quadricep, GRIP the knee. 2nd side arms - horizontal – don’t just turn the palms – biceps turn, shoulder blades, back ribs, middle shoulder blades in, top shoulder blade away from the neck and then take the arms up to the BACK of the ears. Now just to compare repeat vira 3 without taking the arms horizontal first – do you notice the difference When the back participates the pose is different (it was very different less aggressive and more stable). It is a posterior pose and this gives it a different neuro chemistry.
Repeat Vira 3 with arms extended out to the side, start with palms facing ceiling, bend the leg and then maintaining the back ribs in, turn the palms to face the ground. You are going to bring the trunk to the thigh, but the abdomen should not fall on the thigh. Come forwards, abdomen towards the spine, back ribs in, come to vira 3 and top leg LIFT up. Top leg, stretch it backwards. This is a different sense of balance.
When the organic body, when the nervous body are involved, when they work in this proper manner, it’s a soothing sensation. The body is firm and yet relaxed. Understand your mind is not agitated now. The mind is quiet and the body is still fresh.
Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana x 2 each side short attempts. Can be done with support during menstruation as it is open abdominal twisting (showed some methods of supporting thigh or foot with tall stool etc). From parivrtta trikonasana, extend the left side of your trunk, extend your back leg – if one shrinks, both shrink. You must extend the lower chest to extend the top chest. Top leg stretch and abdomen towards the spine. Lifted leg back towards the foot and UP. Extend on the leg side, don’t hang towards the chest side. When you shift the body weight back away from the front hand with the stretch of the back leg, the pose becomes lighter.
Repeat Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana from Parivrrta Trikonasana. Abdomen to the spine, be with yourself. Even though you’re doing on the right leg, it is actually the left side trunk, the left side waist that has to extend and the top leg STRETCH it. Trapezius shoulder blades, meet at the buttock. Top leg up and back. EXTEND it so you don’t fall on the chest side. Balance and lightness automatically comes. Keep the bottom trunk SHARP. Don’t shrink the bottom abdomen, extend it and THEN take it towards the spine. So now when you do on the left side, right side abdomen has to EXTEND and then be towards the spine. Otherwise you hang in the pose. Active work on the bottom side, top leg bhekasana work – extend the thigh.
Parsvottonasana Extend the sternum chest forward and then go down. Like parivrrta ardha chandrasana, when you are doing on the right side, extend the left chest more. Left thigh, left hip, hold it UP so that the hips are level – then you can open up the left side of your body. Now when you go on the left, right chest, right side waist, right side abdomen has to extend forward and you have to hold up the back leg hip. Right side and left side hip in one line.
Prasarita Paddotonasana Head down (support if you wish), be there quiet.
Upavista Konasana - Automatically you were relaxed / quiet in this pose – I didn’t have to say anything. Because you worked so intently and diligently on your body for the last 90 minutes, your body automatically, naturally went to that state of relaxation – this is that nectar of that 90 minutes – yes it was hard work – for me this one minute was the gain. The discipline required to hold the leg up in parivrrta ardha chandrasana is not just physical, mental discipline is also required – they go together. Body and mind go together – when body is happy you are mentally happy,when you are mentally happy your body is happy. Through the discipline of asanas, what a student learns, is happiness and joy are there – it’s here! That’s why Guruji said “Liberation is in the small things, here and now”.
Supta Baddha Konasana flat (unless there is pain, then take support) To be spiritual one must not deny or forget the body. Tailbone toward the heels – it’s a small area, but that has to get the extension. Now come to the lower abdomen, take it towards the upper abdomen – it should not hang on the pubis, it has to be excavated away from the pubic area. Active pose, mindful pose. Now at the root of the inner thigh you have a groin which is closer to the inner thigh and a groin which is closer to the back thigh. Now in SBK I want you to open that inner thigh groin area and not just hit the knees – that back groin which is close to the back thigh, has to be elevated to open the thighs to the side – outer thighs towards the feet, organic body towards the spine. Like standing poses, the posterior organic body closer to the anterior spine. Move the outer back thighs which face the floor towards the feet, tb towards the heels. The back groin slight elevation to open the thighs to the side.
Through the asanas you become aware, you expand, you penetrate, you change, you evolve and all this makes us competent to live a happy life. To live a life of sensitivity and receptivity. So all this awareness, expansion, penetration – yes it is from the perspective of the body, but that’s only one part of the story. The instruction that the teacher gives is for the physical body BUT it touches the mental body.
When you are not happy – you have lost your job, you can’t pay your loan – if I told you, Patanjali says you have to let go of sorrow – would it make sense to you? Since it’s online you’d just shut your device down. One thing is yoga asanas, pranayama gives you health – it keeps you healthy, it helps you recover from illness, it prevents diseases – yes – but the other thing is, it brings that lightness in the body, it brings the lightness in the mind, which makes you happy, which makes you joyous and this happiness is the source point from which you can jump up to liberty, emancipation, that is freedom.
Janu Sirasana short attempt to relax your muscular body. Remember your PAChandrasana – the bent leg side has to work more actively. Bent leg side abdomen, extend forward. Bent leg side waist, extend forward. Bottom breast area, extend forward. Exhale, descend the back down and don’t allow the shoulder / trapezius blades to go towards the neck. Front ribs forward, back ribs downwards.
Sarvangasana (menstruation supported setu bandha) Your declaration of independence talks of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Guruji remarked that if a yogi had written that he would have said life, happiness and the pursuit of liberty. So when you are happy, you can pursue liberty and freedom. The great boon of yoga, even for relative beginners is the happiness it brings. A state of self-reliant contentment that it brings. An unquiet mind cannot meditate, but a happy and serene mind allows to go on our quest, to go on our sadhana.
‘Life, happiness and the pursuit of liberty’ So in sarvangasana go on ascending the back higher up, bring the lightness in the body by ascending up, bring the contentment in the body by ascending up. Search for that freedom in sarvangasana – shoulder bone down, side chest UP, back ribs in and little by little, take the hands away from the buttocks. Lower down, scapula IN, don’t let the buttocks go back. Eka pada sarvangasana x 2 each side side chest UP as you bring the leg down (repeatedly). Now you are going to come to supta konasanax 2 first spread the legs and LIFT the side chest up to come down. Femur head UP, side waist UP and legs come down. Front thighs UP and legs down. Knees UP and legs down. Having reached supta konasana LIIIFT your back higher up.
Halasana extend the arms straight back.
Savasana Open up all the vents for any aggression that has got pent up, to fade out. Throat is where all the tension gets stored. Keep the tongue soft and let the front of the throat rest towards the back of the throat. Let the tongue be soft and let it recede backwards, then you will know what it is to have the brain quiet. Abdomen soft. Slow soft breaths. Eyes seeing themselves, ears hearing themselves, tongue tasting itself, nose smelling itself, the skin feeling itself.