Day 2 IYA UK Convention with Abhijata
Today we worked intensively on parivrttas in every conceivable format - standing, sitting, prone, supine, inverted and balancing - that is a lot of parivrrtas! Abhi reminded me of a time in the past when I was working hard in parivrtta trikonasana on the trestle with Guruji and he admonished me for the amount I was sweating - "Why are you sweating in your head? Why don't you sweat with your waist?!" It is always my tendency (most especially when I am under pressure) to try too hard and work with a tension in the head. It seems that I still have yet to master this lesson....
Abhi Day 2 IYA UK Convention
Swastikasana palms folded in namaskarasana. Lower spine going IN to the body. Have a few deeper inhalations to energise yourselves. Have a few deeper inhalations to set right your posture. Some actions go hand in hand with the inhalation, some actions go hand in hand with exhalation – for instance if you have to quieten the face and brain you can do that easily with the exhalation. If you have to lift the chest this goes easily with the inhalation. As you inhale ascend the sides of the trunk, as you exhale, maintain that. As you inhale, widen the collar bones, as you exhale, maintain that. As you inhale, from the lower spine ascend up, as you exhale, maintain that. With the exhalation, bring the upper eyelids down. Eyes, ears, tongue, cheeks – descend the shoulder blades, trapezius as you exhale.
Adho Mukha Virasana – some of your body muscles may be sore from what we did yesterday, so with your AMVirasana, learn to create space in the body. Slightly raise your head up and look at your palms and find how when you look at them you can take them further forward. Take bricks or bolsters under the palms, so that your back ribs will be going downwards. Head up once in a while, cut your back ribs, shoulder blades into the body. I want you to become sharp in your upper back, middle back.
Parsva Upavista Konasana sitting upright Back is thin, sharp – you would call it a ‘nice back’. Now go forwards into parsva upavista konasana extending along the leg – now the back is not going towards the chest, but the chest is going towards the back. So, the back has become a little rounded – a thicker back, a convex back. I am taking this asasna to make you sensitive to that thickness in the back. The outer back ribs are now projecting out of the back. We should learn to take them also into the body – so now you have a experiential selfie of that segment of the back which is thick, which is not obeying your command to turn and move in.
AMSvanasana hands up on bricks – root of the thighs higher up and let the back ascend up. The moment the palms are kept higher, the arms respond better, the full length of the arms is possible. In parsva upavista konasana, which part of the back did not listen to you? Can you move that part UP and IN to the body?
Baddha Konasana When it comes to our own behaviours, we don’t spot our limitations. We have a blind spot. The mistakes of others we can easily spot, but our own mistakes fall into the blind spot where we don’t catch it. Yoga is a ‘Darsana Shastra’ – a vision, its like a mirror – when we look in a mirror you see clearly. Yoga is that philosophy which helps you to see yourself clearly. With respect to asana – the parts of the body which move, we look at them, the parts of the body which do not move, we turn a blind eye.
For instance, sit or stand for urdhva hastasana – the arms are going up, you are happy – but can you watch here (see pic) near the outer armpit. Why is the skin here, not extending up? Can I move that also up? you see the arm went higher up? What about the skin here, just above the inner elbow? That is not raising up? can I stretch that skin higher up? See again the arms went higher.
AMSvanasana thoracic spine deeper into the body, but the dorsal lumbar does not go up and we turn a blind eye to that. Mobilise that thoracic lumbar area, lift it higher up (repeatedly) that has to become concave now, UP and INTO the body, bring that thinness in that area.
Parsva Swastikasana seated on thin end of bolster, so that you can use the bolster for the back hand palm to press. Left side back body, pin your location there to that area that did not go in in your parsva upavista konasana , take your mind there - can you make that area mobile? That back rib take it INTO the body and the correspondingly anterior body, ascend up, slightly take the chin up and turn further – that pinned location on your back body, take it IN, TURN – IN, TURN! Use the back hand against the bolster and TURN.
AMSvanasana the left side body is now longer, so it is responding.
Parsva Swastikasana left side from the pubic area raise up. Go to that pinned location – move it INTO the body – IN and Up, IN and UP, IN and Turn, UP, TALL.
Padangusthasana – holding with your fingers, thighs back, buttocks back, pelvic area forward. Even the sacrum, lower back, let it come forward (repeatedly).
Many factors influence one event. Look at the microcosm of the body. Open up Light on Yoga and see what poses are given for tight hamstrings – we expect to see supta padangusthasana etc. but we see twistings, backbends, inversions, jathara parvitartanasana, purvottonasana. This was not a mistake due to lack of maturity! He was 60 when he wrote that book! How is pasasana going to help your hamstrings? In backbends the sacrum going in, is a contributor to your hamstring freedom. Your thigh is attached to your pelvic area, so pelvic freedom is needed for hamstring freedom. Buttock muscle freedom is needed for hamstring freedom. The thigh is attached to the pelvic area and the attachment involves the abdomen, so abdominal freedom is needed for hamstring. Why jathara parivartansasna? If the abdominal muscles are hard, the fixation of the leg into the abdominal area, is going to be affected. In twistings, if your back is not free your hamstring cannot be free. Do you follow? So if that back rib area we are working on has to be free, the neighbouring areas have to be free. You can’t have a very localised attention – it is an interwoven structure.
Parivrrta Trikonasana (menstruation parsvottonasana)brick for the lower hand. Recollect that thick area of parsva upavista konasana – go to parivrrta parsvakonasana – that back has become further thick. If your lower half of the chest muscles are hard, the chest will not turn. If that does not turn, back cannot turn. Read your back in the beginning. (both sides, both poses very briefly) So that part of your back refuses to listen to you, so now we are going to work on that part.
Parivrrta Trikonasana – top hand on tall stool, ledge or top back rest of chair etc in front of chest lower hand on brick.
Parivrrta Trikonasana right leg forward with tall height for top hand and brick for lower hand repeat. Press fingers of top hand into stool and pressurise the inner edge of front and back foot, without lifting the outer feet. Now left hip INTO the body, right hip also INTO the body, now your chest has to go AWAY from the stomach – the entire rib cage, mobilise it AWAY from the stomach. Left shoulder blade INTO the body, rotate the side ribs, rotate the trunk. The right buttock, push it back (straight back towards the left leg) and TURN the abdomen. Exhale, rotate, rotate, rotate. Left side. Now that pinned location, take it IN to the body. The left buttock bone, take it straight backwards. This gives space for the abdomen to turn. Now come to that pinned location – it is still convex, can you OPEN up that chest. Pinned location, take it IN to the body. Turn! turn! turn!
Uttanasana on the support
Parsvottonasana right leg forward let the side ribs go forward. Since right leg is forward, left side has to elongate, so take your right leg out to Parighasana top arm over the head, kneeling leg perpendicular. Repeatedly, exhale and go? Take upper ribs down and stretch, stretch. Stamp the left ankle and GO! GO! GO! Those that can approach the final position (palms together) but chest open, abdomen turn and now stretch the arm so that the side ribs get PULLED. So now the left side body is extended, repeat parsvottonasana, right leg forward, left leg back. You see how much the left side body is elongated?
Repeat sequence on left side parsvottonasana, parighasana kneeling on right leg to stretch right side of body and parsvottonasana to observe how that right side is now further extended.
This side body length is also needed for the twisting postures. The side trunk extension that you get in parighasana, is also very good preparation for sirsasana, so that the side body extension is attained.
Parivrtta Trikonasana stool and brick. Right side. We keep coming back to this – Guruji has said parivrrta trikonasana should be mastered before parivrrta parsvakonasna is attempted. Let the parighasana side trunk extension come, so shoulders are away from the neck but armpits away from the waist – especially bottom side – armpit AWAY from the waist. Stamping your left inner foot, come to your left waist, from the left waist you have to elongate towards the shoulder blade. Identify left bottom breast area – OPEN IT! OPEN IT! Let it face your prop fully well! Come to your lower spine, from the anterior tailbone SHOOT your spine towards the head and with this great length, rotate, rotate, rotate. Repeat left side.
Parivrrta Janu Sirsasana Right leg bent. Hold the left inner foot with your left hand. The left side of the back body that faces the wall behind you, take it into the body. Other hand on the bent leg thigh. The chest has to open. Your left shoulder blade, take it INTO the body! IN to the body, IN to the body. Now bend elbow, place it on the floor and left side of the back body, take it to the front body. Open as though you were doing ustrasana or urdhva mukha svanasana. Repeat left side. Right side kidney, SUCK it IN to the body SUCK it IN!
Another method to bring the softness in the back muscles. Parivrtta Adho Mukha Swastikasana right side (Parsva AM Swastikasana menstruation) down as close to the floor as possible. Exhale turn, turn, turn, left half of the back, turn away from the spine. Chest forward away from the navel, navel forward away from the pubis. Exhale stronger and your left abdomen, the fatty tissues there – TURN!
AMSvanasana you see how long the left side of your trunk / back feels?
Parivtrtta AM Swastikasana left side as above. Chin up once in a while and release your anterior body.
AMSvanasana Feel that freedom which comes to the side body – what a great lift, what a great elongation.
Change cross of legs, Parivrrta AM Swastikasana. Right side. If left buttock and thigh come up, it’s okay – mobility before stability.
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana right side. You got a good rotation, abdomen is free – now maintain that abdominal rotation and straighten the front leg into parivrtta trikonasana keep the sternum away from the navel and then straighten the leg. Understand the mental shift that takes place when you move from a more difficult pose to an easier pose, the mental freedom is there.
Parivrtta AM Swastikasana left side, 2nd cross of legs. Don’t do with your head! The far corner of your abdomen has to turn.
Parivrrta Parsvakonasana into parivrrta trikonasana left side - Why is the head sweating and not your waist!
Guruji taught that if the thoracic spine is convex do not teach marichyasana 3, teach bharadvajasana 1, parsva swastikasana first to beginners – the ease has to come in the concave twists before you attempt the convex twists. Parivrrta trikonasana before parivrtta parsvakonasana.
AMSvanasana as a neutralising pose
Bharadvajasana 1 legs to left, turn to right – abdomen is tuning left to right – now parivrrta trikonasana – chest is turning left to right. Understand the sense of direction in the asana.
Question: Why are twists not advised in the case of fibroids and cysts? Answer: the abdominal area has a ball of growth. It is an obstruction which you do not want to irritate further. The abdominal rotation is going to cause a compression in that area and your body is not going to be comfortable.
The next four poses given while Abhi answered a question for a participant who asked how to practice in parivrrta AM swastikasana when the head is nowhere near the floor. She was shown how to use a chair on the side she is turning to, head resting in the chair, abdomen turning.
Prasarita Paddottonasana let the abdominal area quietly come down
AMVrksasana jump up with right leg once, jump up with left leg once
Pinca Mayurasana (menstruation janu sirasana, TMEP Paschimottonasana) right leg once, left leg once. Extend the legs, rub the heels up.
Prone Supta Padagusthasana 3 Right leg underneath and across the body, foot on height of block / brick / bolster. First adjustment - we tend not to be exactly on the side hip, but more on the corner. Lift the hip up and then exactly place the lateral area on the floor. The hip joint is like a ball, so let it exactly balance on that lateral edge (she rolled the hip downward away from the chest to place it). Exhale, turn the chest. This is nothing but parivrrta ardha chandrasana. May need to put chest on a pillow if the hip is broad so that head, chest and hip are aligned (not hip poking up and head down). Exhale and turn the head, chest and abdomen. The left half of the back has to turn away from the spine, like a massage, turning spinal muscles of the left away from the spine. Turn! Use both the hands for the rotation. Sternum AWAY from the navel. Anterior tailbone towards the head, Turn! Turn! Turn!
Kneel up and feel how much the left side of your back feels the lightness.
Parivrtta Trikonasana right side to understand the same spinal muscle rotation – let the left spinal muscles turn away from the spine.
Repeat both on left side.
The components of an asana have to be gathered. Menstruating ladies baddha konasana, upavista konasana twisting.
Supta Padangusthasana 3 Right leg across. Left half of the back, lift it up and turn it away from the spine and then turn the chest, abdomen, stomach, everything! Left to right, left to right, left to right. Chest is open, back makes contact with the floor, so that back does not become narrow. This method of twisting is good for digestive issues – flatulence etc
Parivrrta Trikonasana same side, you will understand how the anterior body responds after the prone twisting. Bring that alignment, bring that openness.
Repeat both on left side
Optional Eka Pada Koundinyasana 1 touch and go the twisting provides a fulcrum. (alternative parivrrta ardha chandrasana)
‘Lots of smiles, if you are happy, I am happy!’
Sirsasana (Chair viparita dandasana for menstruation). Remember I told you how parighasana prepares the side trunk for sirsasana.
Parsva Sirsasana x 2 each side Those who are working at the wall, start by shifting the legs slightly to the left on the wall, before turning to the right so that feet stay aligned above the hip when you rotate. The outer side of the right foot / leg will touch the wall and rotate the thighs, rotate the hips, turn, turn, turn. Those in the centre of the room, you will keep your shoulders wide, chest wide when you turn. To turn to the left side (on the wall) shift your legs to the right a little and then turn to the left side. Don’t drop your shoulders / shoulder blade, thoracic spine in and turn, turn, turn.
In the centre of the room instructions: Side body long like parighasana. Turning to the right side, keep the buttocks IN to the body, keep your legs firm, go on stretching the legs higher up, do not narrow your right shoulder and rotate the hip – identify your left outer thigh and let it ROLL to the front, ROLL, ROLL, ROLL.
Sirsasana / sarvangasana variations are given for almost all health conditions, they are incredibly powerful.
Parivrtta Eka Pada Sirsasana wall group: start with parsva sirsasana on the right side – the back leg has to come back on the wall and the front leg has to come forward, split the legs if you’re really afraid you can put the front leg on the wall too).
Centre group: Keep the legs absolutely straight, your focus has to be on stretching the legs, not the rotation.
Paschimottonasana You have done a lot of twists, so let the abdominal area become a little soft now. You can keep the legs apart no problem.
Halasana – Parsva Halasana x 2 each side seniors walk so far that the feet come in line with the shoulders. Levelise the hips and buttocks, on 2nd attempt bend the knees to parsva karnapidasana- Halasana - Sarvangasana palms lower down, back higher up, buttocks IN to the body. You are coming towards the end, but go for an ULTIMATE lift in sarvangasana, so much lift that you will come on your front edge of the shoulder bone, knees, thighs, front thigh, back thigh, go ON ascending, eyes, temples quiet, chin to the chest, throat quiet, throat descending down to the base of the neck. Before you come down MAXIMUM lift, even of that means you interlock the fingers and stretch the arms back and use that as a tool to ascend yourself higher up to get a good back lift .
Savasana lying flat, support under the head. With bent legs adjust your buttocks away from the waist. Lift one leg slightly off the floor a few cm from the ground and stretch it away - the mounds of the toes have to be well opened. From the buttock bone you have to extend to the heel and place the foot back down. This gives a good extension – if you place the other leg casually down, you will see in comparison that is much shorter, the leg has retarded. This length of the leg gives a different effect to the abdominal area. In savasana the halasana effect on your chin has to be there, not locked but a neutral position – let your throat rest at the base of the neck. Head neck in the centre. Let the eyes draw deeper inwards, ears withdrawn deeper inwards – as though you’re trying to see something deep inside you, as though you’re trying to hear something deep inside you. Forehead skin relaxed. Let the sides of the forehead, the temples relax. The sides of the eyes have to go towards the ears. When the eyes come towards the nose it is concentration. When the eyes go towards the ears it is meditation. So now in savasana learn to go to that quiet state. Slow, soft inhalation, slow, soft, gentle exhalation. Now since you have lengthened your thighs away from the trunk, your abdominal area rests downwards – this quietens the vibrations in that area which contributes to better respiration. With each exhalation, let the abdominal walls recede downwards towards the Mother Earth.
An asana is a manifestation of mental being. When you sensitively do the asanas in this manner, not only is the posture improved, but your intra communication skills are improved.