Day 3 IYNAUS Autumn Sangha Abhijata
This blog finds me at a transitional moment in my life. The last 6 months or so have been a time of tremendous change. I'm really sad to report that we have had to leave behind our much-loved studio, after the rent was doubled during the Covid period, leaving us little choice but to quit. As you'll imagine after pouring my heart and soul into the studio for 3 years, with the expectation that this was to be a lifelong investment, this was a terribly bitter pill to swallow and a serious lesson in non-attachment. There has been a long period of grief and adjustment while I seek out the way forward. As many of our community are of course experiencing, a global pandemic is not the best time to be running a yoga studio, so perhaps for that at least, I can be grateful. But oh! what next? In practical terms, this means the website and the blogs will be changing address - more on that shortly. It may be that for some time at least, that I have to dip my toe back into the mainstream working world - it's so strange to be digging out a dusty CV after 20 years of devoting all of my time to the study and teaching of yoga. For my students I can offer the reassurance that I will continue to teach, but for now no physical studio and no base from which to offer therapy classes etc - and it's those students, who perhaps need it the most, who have missed out during the lockdown period. I will keep working on how to bring us all back together.
Abhi started today's session with an update on Prashant's recovery from Covid. He is doing well and in fact has just resumed teaching his local class online. The online weekend classes that had to be postponed in September will be rescheduled soon, so expect to hear from the institute shortly on this matter. The class focussed on length and rotation of the waist, with plenty of yoga / life philosophy woven in. I love Abhi's totally no nonsense approach - when she taught dropping from upavista konasana in sarvangasana to supta konasana, she told us after the first attempt "If you couldn’t manage this – it’s fine! Learn to deal with it! Because failure in life leads one towards determination – dealing with failure teaches us how to be philosophical – be detached – with that detachment go back to upavista konasana and RRROLL your pelvis to come to supta konasana!" the strength and energy in her tone designed to pick you up and carry you through any doubt.
Day 3 – IYNAUS Autumn Sangha Abhijata
Swastikasana. Change the order of crossing your legs –so the uncomfortable side will get used to it a little. It’s not just that you change which leg that is coming in first - the psychodynamic imprint is different. Lift the entire broad structure of the ribcage upwards - don’t just hit the centre chest forward. The entire broad structure has to be tall, so let it be elevated. As you inhale, go for that elevation. As you exhale, maintain that lift. Maintaining this height of the body, this firmness of the body, bring your upper eyelids down to close your eyes. Do not bring your head too much forwards, the cervical vertebrae should not be pushed aggressively forward, it has to rest on the spinal body. From the anus to the crown of the head align yourself and have a few breaths to establish this position.
AMVirasana Palms facing each other and extend yourselves forward. The outer edges of your hips, back – the seat of your buttocks should not go up. Lift your head and rub your little fingers along the mat. Treat each instruction as though it is for you! The outer armpit area, extend forwards so that the side chest responds and press the heel of the hand, little finger side.
AMS Extend the sides of the trunk up – go on raising yourself higher and higher up. Demo of lifting the heels up to get the height and then cutting the outer edges of the feet down and lifting the top outer thigh/ outer hip UP further. Repeat AMS Raise the outer hips up to make them sharp. Lift the inner knees to the groin, without compromising on the feet pressure. Understand all different aspects of AMS (depending on what is being worked on) then you will get a holistic understanding of what is AMS.
Tadasana Learn to roll the trapezius down (this has to come down in every posture) Urdhva Hastasana keep trapezius and shoulder blades down, outer shoulder blades towards the spine and from the armpits you have to extend up. Remember yesterday’s work, abdomen towards the spine - to CCB Uttanasana as if there is a rope around the root of your thighs pulling you back. Concave back doesn’t just mean chin up, it means centre dorsal IN to the body and side chest, extend it forwards
Gomukhasana take lower arm first. If you have something fixed that you can grasp – grille, wardrobe handle, whatever is available – grasp it, bend the knees and use it to pull the bottom hand higher up to increase your range of movement there. Lower shoulder, roll it back and make space there, upper arm, extend it up and see that the elbow does not fall onto the head and that the head keeps its proper place.
Paschima Namaskarasana You can make the same adjustment here, holding onto something to pull your hands higher up.
Gomukhasana You have to come to your shoulder’s door to roll it back, it’s not just the physical adjustment that is required. You have to have the mental determination to reach that area. Your intelligence has to reach that area. Stiffness and injury are two different things. If there is injury then do not just use your willpower to force there. Understand the difference.
Paschima Namaskarasana Every part of the right palm has to press on it’s corresponding partner on the left palm, the thumb side has to join and press completely. Don’t look down – the moment we look down, the mental body drops. That is why we want to look down when we cry. Eyes in the eye level or slightly above.
Uttanasana and urdhva prasarita eka padasana (menstruation stay in utt head down) raise the right leg up, the knee, the quadriceps, stretch the front of the right leg and lift it up. 2nd side. Raise the left knee UP, left quadriceps UP and remain in Uttanasana with the standing leg, don’t lean forwards. Stiffer people, exhale and 3 times THROW the left leg higher up 1!! 2!! 3!!
Repeat urdhva prasarita eka padasana (support of wall for those who need it, menstruation parsvottonasana) The right abdomen has to turn IN for the right leg to raise higher up. Exhale go down. Repeat on left side - left abdomen roll IN and left knee UP, left thigh UP TURN leg UP TURN leg UP
Urdhva Hastasana - Lift the sides of the navel up and see how your abdomen feels. Uttanasana – urdhva prasarita eka padasana raise the right leg and descend down, those of you who can, go for full position holding your ankle. Roll the abdomen in and sides of the navel, extend it downward. Improve your uttanasana lift leg higher and trunk further descend - DOWN to lift UP - DOWN to lift UP (repeatedly). Urdhva hastasana – Tadasana regather yourself – Urdhva Hastasana – Uttanasana – Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana left side.
Ardha Baddha Padma Padmottonasana (knee problem Vrksasana) Facing the wall, place foot in padmasana. Learn to keep the knee back and descend it down. If you bend forward with the knee still coming forward, it places a strain on the knee. Roll it back (repeatedly). If foot is slipping, you can hold the foot, while you bend forward to the wall x 3 each side, creating the freedom in the hip and knee 1) moving the knee back 2) descending the knee down (fear makes it retract).
ABPadmottonasana standing holding the foot (bad knees standing akunchanasana, cushion behind the knee if required, leg bent up on tall stool / back rest of chair or similar) 1) Fix the foot at the root of the thigh 2) Reach behind with the right hand and hold the big toe or use a belt (which makes knee come forwards) 3) Take knee back and learn to descend the knee down 4) Stand straight and ROLL the right shoulder back.
ABPadmottonasana facing wall and descending down x 3 Walking down the wall with one hand, holding the foot / belt with the other hand if needed. Knee OUT hips UP abdomen IN, slightly turning as we did in urdhva prasarita eka padasana. Listen to the body, observe pain and learn from it if it is not injurious. Uttanasana has it improved?
Upavista Konasana - Remove mat or sit on a blanket so that hamstring does not get caught. Feel how one calf muscle is extending away and one is getting caught. Take your hands and lengthen the hamstring and the calf muscle away on the side that is short.
Turn to left side to do Parivrrta Upavista Konasana on the right side. Hold the right foot (or belt) and move both outer shoulder blades in towards the spine. Sternum elongate and turn, release the bottom side further, rotate well.
Repeat Parivrrta Upavista Konasana for stiffness, those who are unable to bend down, sit angularly so that the leg you are extending along runs parallel alongside the wall or bedframe etc and you can roll back to the wall.
Parighasana (menstruation parivtta janu sirasana) Heel down toes up, this engages the hip to take the buttock in. Exhale go down to parighasana on the right side. Let the bottom hand rub on the leg RUB RUB RUB look at the foot and touch the toes and TURN! TURN! if you can touch the foot take the top hand like parsvakonasana and rotate. Go further those of you who wish to, if you know the progession. X 2
Parighasana short attempt full pose with toes extending down, you’ll notice the buttock is not so sharp.
Parivrrta Paschimottonasna menstruation Janu Sirsasana (outer dandasana leg to the wall if there is stiffness / beginner top shoulder rotating back to the wall) Turn the abdomen – basically what you are learning today is how to bring that thinness, that activity to the abdominal area. Don’t just think about the chest, descend the lower waist and turn the abdomen completely – every particle of exhalation has to come out and once the abdomen is empty give a full rotation.
Repeat Parivrrta Paschimottonasana a little louder exhalation to turn. With that force, more volume of your air comes out, so you become lighter to turn.
Akarna Dhanurasana prep - Menstruation Pasch 3 minutes. Demo the aim is to take the foot further back, both hands hold the foot and pump it back and forth. Don’t shrink! Be tall and take the leg back, PUMP. Repeat and see that both hands are inside the foot.
Paschimottonasna sides of the abdomen in and forward
Krounchasana (menstruation TMEP) both the hips down, waist up. Foot on wall if needed.
Paschimottonasana as if there was a rope around your top thighs like rope AMS and the rest of the trunk move it forward. Sides of the trunk in and move forwards.
AMVrksasana buttocks into the body and find that lightness after the seated poses. Repeat with the other leg jumping first. Menstruation Pras Pad
Sirsasana (periods Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana) Ascend the shoulders, shoulder blades upwards, be tall. Eyes looking straight in front. Dorsal spine into the body. 2 mins straight pose. Outer hips ASCEND Up, abdomen towards the spine, exhale turn to the right side Parsva Sirsasana Lift the hips up and turn to the side. Centre. Hips, dorsal in and turn to the other side. Turn completely. Buttocks into the body, legs firm, thighs long. Parivrrta eka pada sirsasana -split the legs, left leg forward, right leg back, exhale turn to the right side, hips up - especially the left hi, lift the left hip UP - legs firm. Come back to the centre, right leg forward, left leg back. The back leg STRETCH, the front leg STRAIGHT and front leg outer hip UP! Inner leg of the back STRETCH! Eka Pada Sirsasana Like krounchasana both hips have to work, both the hips have to lift up. Right leg forward, right hip UP for the waist to be tall, left hip UP for the extended leg - don’t lift the foot up, lift the HIP up. Parsva eka pada sirsasana half way only and lift the outer hips up. Short attempt. Keep the hip UP waist extended. Upavista Konasana in sirsasana some of you spread the legs so much that your hamstring faces the ceiling – that is wrong. Come back up to sirsasana – now don’t turn the feet out, can you just spread the legs like utthita hasta padasana? Back of the thighs are facing the wall behind, now rotate the toes to point down, but pelvis should not change it’s position. Baddha Konasana in sirsasana outer thighs, outer hips lift up and groins to the inner knees extend.
Adho Mukha Virasana
Brick setubandha Extend the arms behind, interlock the fingers, roll the shoulders back. We think intelligence only happens in the brain. Raise the back ribs up especially. Let the ribs be uplifted on the back body. Keep your legs apart and elongate the inner legs and outer legs. Join the legs (not menstruation). Now if I ask you to join the legs and extend the inner legs, you will see that it is not happening – you are unable to dictate terms to your inner legs to elongate. Spread your legs apart. So understand we think this intelligence, this perception happens exclusively in the brain – NO! – yoga teaches us that this awareness, this intelligence must permeate the body. Now do not put dead weight on the brick – your outer hips, your outer thighs, ascend them up towards the ceiling. Every part of the body has to radiate that intelligence – so you should be able to understand, what is happening in my toes, what is happening in my arches, what is happening in my 7th cervical vertebrae? So your brain should be able to receive all these input and record all these changes which take place. When the legs are extending, it should be able to witness, right side, left side are they evenly extended? Train your brain in this, then outside the sticky mat, your brain will just be exuberant there. Once you train your brain in the asanas, you’re good at action, you’re good at sensation, you’re good at perception – what else is intelligence about? The body and the mind are two sides of the same coin.
Sarvangasana (menstruation bolster setubandha or supta pad 2, supta baddha konasana, if abdominal heaviness supported ardha chandrasana / vira 3 or for headache janu sirsasana head supported). Go on ascending the back higher up, go for that extension, find that space. Buttock higher up, you can spread the legs apart and lift yourself higher up – because you have to get that freedom. The moment the body shrinks the brain becomes heavy and dull. When an asana is performed well physically, there is a mental lightness which comes. To start off the doer has to be the body, you can’t bypass that. Eka Pada Sarvangasana Hips UP, bring the right leg forward half way. Both the legs firm, outer hips UP and lift from the extended leg to bring the bottom leg up. Parsvaikapada Sarvangasana half way down. When you are completely in the body, the mind is within you, so LIFT your shoulder blades, lift the sides of the back, palms lower down, back higher up. Other side – outer hips, outer thighs up, inner legs lengthen, buttock should not flop out. Come up. Spread the legs to Upavista Konasana in Sarvangasana and come down to supta konasana lift your outer thighs and outer hips up. If you couldn’t manage this – it’s fine! Learn to deal with it! Because failure in life leads one towards determination – dealing with failure teaches us how to be philosophical – be detached – with that detachment go back to upavista konasana and roll your pelvis to come to supta konasana. Back to sarvangasana ascend yourself Patanjali himself has said that yoga needs persistent constant long term practice with zeal and determination. When a gardener plants an apple tree, will the fruit come right away? NO! Many things must be done.
Savasana if you are having a back pain after sarvangasana, it happens – the weakness in that spine, inaction there brings a pain in the lumbar area, so if you are suffering that kind of a pain lie down on your stomach prone savasana when your lumbar spine is painful. Roll the tongue up towards the roof of the mouth and take it backwards if the throat is dry.
There was a question about anxiety – the answer is to engage your mind with dynamic asasnas so that the mind is kept in the present moment. Where it was not possible for you to engage with the dynamic asanas in yesterday’s class – you had palpitations etc then this must be taken separately, not in a general class. Supported supine poses, supported inversions would help. In the last chapter of Light on Life Guruji has given the asanas for emotional stability.
With the eyes closed, let the abdominal area descend towards the spine. Now imagine I am placing a heavy weight on your thighs and allow your thighs to descend downwards and let there be no abdominal hardness. When the water of a lake is still, it’s crystal clear, you can see through the water to the bed. If you throw a pebble in the lake, there are ripples which are formed. And after some time, the ripples fade away and the lake once again adopts that stillness. So now here in savasana, with all the hectic activity of the last 100 minutes, there were ripples in your body. Now in your savasana, you are just quiet and allow those ripples to settle down. You can either see savasana as the culmination of the class, or you can see this savasana as the time during which your body can absorb the nectar, the body can absorb the essence, the fruits of your labour of the last 110 minutes. Do nothing, be still like that lake and the inner body will absorb what needs to be absorbed. Around the navel, let the ripples settle down. The navel is the epicentre and around that those concentric circles fade away.
Now if you imagine that weight kept on your thighs, the ripples will appear clearer to you – like if a mirror is covered by dust, you can’t see much. When you clean the mirror, the reflection is clear. In that manner when the thighs are quiet and sober, you are able to perceive your abdominal area better.
Imagine your entire body is now that lake, so can that relaxation in the form of ripples permeate all through your body. So from the epicentre of your navel, all over. Even your thighs – upper – middle – lower. Knees – shins – ankles – stomach – chest.