top of page

Day 11 - Leg extensions with Sunita

The last couple of days have been really positive - the abundance of time that I have compared to usual has meant a wonderful rekindling of my pranayama practice which has been a casualty of full-time work and not enough hours in the day to do it all. It is a practice which feeds on itself - the more you do, the more easily it flows and the less preparation you need. Just in the last few months I have really felt a tension creeping in and noticed that I wasn't breathing properly - rushing here there and everywhere and literally feeling like I didn't have time to stop and breathe. I have a particular practice of just a few asanas that for me really promote freedom in the diaphragm and luxuriously smooth, fluid breaths so I have been starting each day with this short sequence - Chair Sarvangasana, legs folded in padmasana extending knees to touch the back rest of chair (which enlivens my spine and organs of my back body which tend to be really sluggish) rolling over into padmasana in ardha halasana, followed by savasana and then seated pranayama.

The day was for backbend practice on the rooftop terrace - by the end of the week, my goal is to be in Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana with feet together and legs straight - as you see from pic, this is a work in progress. In the evening time a group of us went to Shabree on FC Road for a Thali which offers the rare treat of a choice of 2 different gluten-free chapatis, one made with sorghum and the other with a blend of flours including millet - my first chapatis since being in India. As we left the restaurant, I came within a whisker of being flattened by a motorcycle travelling at speed on the wrong side of the road, very close to the pavement - at the moment I raised my foot to step off, I briefly glanced back up the street and pulled back without a millisecond to spare. It made me realise that if any of us did have an accident that I wouldn't have a clue what to do! back home we ring 999 - what does one do in India? (When I got back home I Googled it and discovered that some states offer an emergency service dialling 108 - need to find out more!).

Saturday began joyfully with classical music through my surprisingly powerful portable speaker at sunrise and pranayama practice followed by class with Sunita which focussed on correct actions in leg extensions. We worked hard, but there were also plenty of times we paused to listen to her talking and got some time to recover.

Day 11 – Sunita Advanced 2 Hour class – Leg extensions

  • AMVirasana

  • AMSvanasana – Charge yourself! Legs firm! Knees firm! The laziness has to go off!

  • Uttanasana – Release the back skull, release the brain cells, quieten the brain, create space in the ear and throat passage.

  • Trikonasana – after turning the legs, the front leg has to be received into the socket and then from the socket the trunk has to lengthen to go down to Trikonasana. Pressurize the inner edge of the front foot, back part of the leg going into the socket, front part elongating. Stamp the outer edge of the back foot and open out the whole pelvic region.

  • Parsvakonasana – Trunk has to be lengthened. Going down is not the action – extension of the trunk is the action – body has to extend from the perenium. Straighten the elbow and bring life to the upper arm.

  • Take hands into Paschima Namaskarasana for Parsvottonasana. Turn legs to the right side. Pull right leg more into the socket (without lifting inner edge of right foot up). Lift from the perenium and coil the spine to arch back eyes looking at the ceiling, whole front body is lifted – lift the chest to take the head back. Extend forward maintaining elbows back and chest extending forwards, pressing little fingers into the dorsal spine. Keep head down and turn the feet and trunk to the left side and then stand upright to make the preparations on the left side. Extending upwards, lifting front body so that perenium is parallel to the floor and drawing the left leg upward into socket as you extend forward. Elbows rolling backward dorsal extending forwards.

This is the classical pose – variations are okay once we understand that they are variations – this is the classical pose and it should never be forgotten.

What is balance – how do we balance? It is not only feet and leg work. It is also the arms, like in Virabhadrasana 3. Arms have to also work for the balance. Here the mic started to irritate her and Gulnaz removed it. She implored us to come closer and learn to concentrate and tune our ears to her voice. Geetaji said we need to be indifferent to the noises of the traffic etc outside and only pay attention to the teacher’s voice. The mic was only introduced in 2007, before that all the teaching at the institute took place without the mic. Learn the quality of indifference. She also mentioned that Guruji used to say that no doubt you should come to the ‘Mother Institute’ to learn from the source, but other than that you should stick to one teacher and this way 1) You will learn more and 2) You’ll only copy one person’s mistakes! When you learn from multiple teachers, you pick up multiple mistakes and it is harder to unravel.

  • Hands in Paschima Namaskarasana for Prasarita Paddottonasana 2 and jump legs apart, stamp outer edges of the feet and extend upwards . Press palms, press little fingers in to lengthen the dorsal spine and extend forwards (as we went) Press palms together! Take elbows back! Press little fingers into the dorsal spine! Press! Press! Press!

Are you starting to understand balance?

  • Uttanasana feet apart

  • Parivrtta Trikonasana – Right side - We did not turn to parsva to go, but turned the feet only and went into Parivrrta Trikonasana in one smooth movement. - extend arms, exhale and go. Pull right leg into socket – go down – extend spine – chest open - rotate! left shoulder blade, take it forward! Take it! Take it! Go on rotating! Pressurise outer edge of back foot and extend top arm to come up. Turn legs to go directly to left side. Same instructions.

  • Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana via Parivrtta Trikonasana –extend arms, exhale and go, tucking left shoulder blade in and rolling left side of the rib cage forwards. Bring left arm forwards and rotate the chest before you raise the leg and come into PAC. Chest open and rotate! Rotate! Left shoulder blade forward to rotate!

  • Baddha Hasta Uttanasana

  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 – Use stool / chair/ ledge / grille / ropes. Stand in tadasana and pull thighs up. Raise right leg to chest height and maintain tadasana actions in UHP1. Inner edge of foot extend to the wall to better take leg into socket. Outer edge of hip rotating down - taking thumb to uppermost outer thigh to rotate this area downward so that hips remain parallel. Roll standing leg to face the front. Side trunk well lifted – use the ropes to help the lift, abdomen becoming taller and shoulders widening. Tuck buttock in.

  • First we have to understand the shape of each asana – this has to come first. Guruji said we have to find the Tadasana in every asana. This has to be maintained when leg is lifted. So now try on the other side and see – first establish Tadasana and observe where everything is placed and then raise the leg up and observe standing leg foot, hip thigh – are legs in proper alignment? Then look at raised leg – are groin and hip parallel? Then hold the rope with one hand and use the other to push outer hip joint down – we need to be in a ‘present state’ to observe alignment and balance.

  • Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 2 – Here we looked at different ways of rolling the outer back thigh down. First we stood with right leg raised sideways to grille and reached the left arm above the head to hold the rope, stretching it straight (it was parallel to the floor) rotating chest to face the front and we used right hand to roll the raised leg outer hip joint down. Then we swapped arms and passed the left arm behind the body to take that hip joint down. Next Gulnaz showed on stage with a loop around the raised leg foot, passing the belt around the back of the body using left hand to hold behind and wrapping the belt around the thigh to rotate the back outer thigh down. Right palm against inner right shin to keep chest in tadasana, facing the front square on.

  • Supta Tadasana – Urdhva hastasana in Supta Tadasana to open shoulders.

  • Supta Padangusthasana 1 from Supta Tadasana (don’t bend the left leg to raise the right) using small loop of belt around the foot. The action has to happen from the thigh – use flat palm to press root of the thigh away. Maintaining root of the thigh away, those that can, draw the leg closer and bring head to shin, lifting from the dorsal.

‘Every action has a curative value in Supta Padangusthasana’

  • Left side – Before pulling the leg closer, see that the space and length is there (in the abdominal cavity) – take the hip joint away – mid thigh – bottom thigh going back. And then draw the leg closer and have that length in the dorsal to bring the head to the shin.

  • Supta Padangusthasana 2 – small loop around foot passing length of belt around the back of the neck to hold firmly with the opposite hand. After the first attempt she got us to come up and explained the focus was wrong (attempting to bring the leg up to the level of the shoulder, or I must take the leg to the floor) If you are practicing incorrectly, you will be teaching incorrectly. It is the mind that creates this problem, not the body – you have to change this mind! Focus should be on the left (down leg) side of the body. Do not let the left side of the back body lift away from the floor as you take the right leg out to the side, keep it close to the floor. The left side of the body should not get disturbed – abdomen has to roll from right to left side as you take the leg out. Then extend the back of the leg to the heel –Leg straight! Push the thigh away! Both sides with these careful actions.

  • Tadasana – Observe Tadasana carefully before going into Sirsasana. Stand straight, widen diaphragm.

  • Sirsasana

  • Eka Pada Sirsasana Heel down, thigh up! Keep trunk even. Maintain Tadasana in upper leg. The moment the leg is bought to eka pada the top leg thigh wants to turn out.

  • Parsva Eka Pada Sirsasana lengthen through heel! Side trunk lifts! Climb upper leg up!

  • Repeat Eka Pada and Parsva Eka Pada both sides.

  • AMVirasana

  • Sarvangasana

  • Eka Pada Sarvangasana

  • Parsva Eka Pada Sarvangasana

  • Halasana – Paschimottonasana

  • Savasana

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page