Day 3 Yoganusasanam 2020 Zoom with Abhijata

Day 3 of the intensive focussed on a series of forward bends, learning to coil the armpit chest. Abhi kept the sequence moving at a rapid pace so that the mind stayed fully involved throughout. She says a lot!! A fellow teacher told me that she had taught a part of yesterday's sequence and couldn't understand how Abhi had fitted it all in. She speaks very rapidly (but super-clearly so we can still follow) and doesn't hold too long. At one point she said we would stay for one minute in silence and she lasted about 6 seconds, before she couldn't resist giving us some encouragement!! I particularly enjoyed the wonderful freedom of the poses she gave after the forward bends to release any compression that may have occurred in the body - a rapid fire round of supta baddha konasana, ardha chandrasana, virabhadrasana 3, adho mukha svanasana / urdhva mukha svanasana and sirasana all rounded off with a wonderful setubandha sarvangasana.

Enjoy tomorrow those of you that will be there, I look forward to catching up with it later in the week.

*CCB means Concave Back!

Day 3 Yoganusasanam 2020 Zoom with Abhijata

Swastikasana Invocation – Feel the height from within, not to allow the body to drop anywhere. Build up your sitting position from what has been learnt in the last 2 days – make a clear impression of the work we have done so that the memory is not discarded. No part of the pelvic girdle should touch the thighs – eject that pelvic girdle away from the thighs as we did yesterday – the more you do it the clearer the somatic memory – body has its own intelligence / memory. Eyes closed, upper arms roll from the inside to the outside, have a slightly deeper inhalation to recharge your body, exhale without losing the alertness.

AMVirasana Palms facing each other, give a good length mindfully

AMSvanasana Go for that height, go for that length. Front of the thighs back. Take knees down for a short break, give some rest for your arms.

AMSvanasana LIFT the outer armpit chest and get the length of the trunk there. Look at it! Why does it drop? LIFT that! It is not just a warm up – it is to bring the sensitivity in the body.

Uttanasana first downward and then walk palms forward maximum, so that you get good length in your side trunk (height under hands as required) Do not let hips / buttocks / thighs fall forwards, but side body has to move forward.

AMSvanasana Raise the side body up.

Uttanasana Walk BACK with your hands – heels forwards, buttocks forward, but palms BACKWARD. Release the bottom breast area downwards. Side ribs, armpits DOWN.

Prasarita Paddottonasana CCB*Extend the sides of the chest forwards. Descend down and stretch the arms backwards (if not possible classical version palms between feet). Go for straightening the arms and release the lower ribs, no grip there. Open the sternum.

Parsvottonasana RS stepping the legs apart. Back leg, inner thigh to the outer thigh rotate and push it back. Pelvic girdle lift up and exhale to go down to CCB (height where required) and lower ribs move forwards, dorsal spine IN and chin forward. Shoulders wide, collar bones wide and learn to COIL the armpits. Exhale and take the trunk down (don’t just go for the head).

Parsvottonasana LS Same instructions.

Demo of armpits coiling. Showing back of the armpit to the front of the armpit NOT as a straight movement, but circularly – so from the back dropping down and moving forwards and up (semicircle / shallow cup/ shallow U shape). When we say that Iyengar Yoga is about precision, timing and sequencing – that precision also applies to use of language. Guruji said in an interview that when we come to class, we wait for instruction and then we apply the movement and experience the effect. Whereas Guruji – there was no instruction of this type from his teacher, no Light on Yoga, no Google – he had the experience and then had to find the word to convey the experience. You understand the complete reversal of learning sequence? For us words first and then experience, but for Guruji the experience came first and then the words sometimes it took him 40 years to find a certain word for a certain experience!! Each word had that value to it.

Tadasana Circularly move the armpit from the back to the front

Paschima Namaskarasana Now the armpit has to move back to the front coiling. Coil in that manner! (repeatedly). These are the energy centres / pranic centres of the body. It is our loss if we think of this as only a physical technique.

Parsvottonasana RS What you did in your paschima namaskarasana – this has to come in your parsvottonasana CCB. From the BACK, DOWN and UP! Move the armpit from the back to the front circularly. It is the experience which is needed not the words! (don’t take head down) coiling action only. LS Coil! Coil! Coil!

Janu Sirsasana RS Groin opening is important so take that right knee a little back. Right thigh roll inside out. Pressurising the bent leg down, take the arms up and hold the foot CCB and extend the right side vertically and the left side horizontally. Bend the elbows and go forwards – as you do this take the back ribs IN and sternum chest FORWARD. When you reach your capacity the mind wanders, so bring your mind to the back ribs as though there is a weight there, taking you down.

Swastikasana Demo in uttanasana to explain comment above. Once I reach capacity and cannot go further, the mind wanders and becomes casual – it is no longer involved and I can be here without any efforts. Why should the mind need to be involved? Why do Iyengar Yoga teachers bombard us with techniques one after the other? Because your mind has to mind has to be with your body – don’t be complacent with your capacity – you have to go BEYOND it. This dialogue between your body and mind has to continue.

Janu Sirsasana LS Same preparatory instructions as RS. Extend the left side body and right side ribs horizontally MOOVE to the right side. Hit your dorsal spine down to move. If your mind is wandering, come back to back ribs and tell them to go down as though there is a weight on it and move forwards. Active mind, not a wandering mind – understand.

Clutter in the mind, is not a constructive mind. A wandering mind is not going to take you towards yoga – it needs to be tuned to go towards a focussed mind, restrained mind.

Janu Sirsasana RS The bent leg inside out. Raise the arms, elongate and go forwards CCB Janu Shoulder / clavicles should not move forwards. The arms are moving forwards, but the shoulders have to move back. Widen the clavicles, keep the shoulders back so that there is no hump which is formed in the back – then exhale and go forwards looking towards the shin. Lengthen the right side ribs vertically and the left side ribs horizontally. Lengthen the side trunk forwards, don’t just take the head down – side trunk, back ribs, side trunk, back ribs.

Parivrrta Janu Sirsasana RS Take left hand to right thigh and TURN. Then catch the left foot and top hand on the waist. The bent leg should not go inward – take bent leg back. Also, straight leg should not go inside, your arm should be like a barricade to keep that straight leg back. Rotate the chest, left shoulder blade into the body, left elbow down to the floor and keep it extending it forward away from the leg and downward towards the foot. Rotate! The right trunk BACK! The left trunk turn to the right! Go on with the elbow TURN! and now the armpit – open the right armpit, extend the neck, keep the eyes shut. Extend the thoracic away from the abdomen. Open up the sternum chest. Inhale and come up. Janu Sirsasana RS repeat Just touch and go and find out how Parivrrta Janu Sirsasana and Janu Sirsasana help each other. Once the back muscles become a little soft, your janu sirsasana comes better.

Janu Sirsasana LS - Parivrrta Janu Sirsasana LS – Janu Sirsasana LS

Paschimottonasana (height under seat if required) Come to concave back. First release buttocks – if the buttock is caught hamstring is caught. Hold the feet and widen the buttocks to go down. The outer ligament of the knee – lengthen and spread to the side (mentally). 1 minute you are going to stay.

Question – It pains the back of my knee - does it matter if the knee bends?

DEMO Understand asanas / pranayama ultimately touch your energy body. It is not just blood flow. Hanging someone passively upside down, will it have the same effect as sirsasana? As an asana the energy circuits in the body come into the picture. In forward bends, only when the thighs go down can the lower body go up. Paschimottonasana forward movement is from the lower back – if the legs come up, lower back cannot move forward at all. That is why knees staying down, legs straight is a must – it makes it possible for me to access my lower back. However, where there is an injury, you can sit on some height and then take some support only to the back of the knee (such as 3 fold blanket) – not to leave it hanging. Same with hamstring injury – it needs some support so it is not hanging. In the case of an injury, support should be taken, otherwise NO.

Paschimottonasana No instruction, you are going to stay there quiet. Don’t become lazy / dull – so you have to bring your bring your mind to charge your body.

Disjoint between mind and body causes stress. For example, if you don’t want to do Paschimottonasana and still I ask you to do. Disjoint. Or if you are cooking a meal for a guest you really don’t want to see, compared to preparing a meal for someone you are very happy to see. When there is union between the two, automatically the chemistry is such that there is less stress. The subconscious mind likes to be in harmony with the body and asanas can give you taste of that.

Trianga Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottonasana (blanket for the dandasana buttock only if there is unevenness) Scoliosis you need to support the chest / stomach. Wherever the extra concavity

Stay seated – the virasana has to turn from the inner calf to the outer calf. Inner heel away from the buttock – that will release your knee. If the heel hits the buttock, knee is under a strain. Do not hide the bent leg calf muscle, that has to be well rotated. Learn to sift the weight to the bent leg side. Arms up, keep the virasana outer calf, outer shin hitting down. Hold the foot CCB TMEP Outer thigh, cut down! Trapezius muscles away from the neck. Shoulder blades to the front ribs. Go forward, back ribs to the front ribs – I won’t press your head down! I’ll press your back ribs down! Holding your foot, pull yourself such that you give a good traction for your lower back. Pull the leg into the body, so that the lower back can go forward, then that pain will not be there.


Question – What to do if the calf muscle is very plump and it does not allow you to turn the heel out. A lot of work needs to go into virasana. Supta Padangusthasana to extend the calf muscle, so that thinness, that softness will come in the calf muscle.

AMVrksasana To give some lightness to the body.

Question – What to do to improve hamstring stiffness. Standing poses, supta padangusthasana. Baddha Konasana has to be done, because hamstring originates near the gluteus so the buttocks have to be free, the pelvis has to be free. What we did yesterday in Parivrtta Trikonasana – because the moment you eject your pelvic girdle from your leg sockets like that, the gluteal area is going to become free and that in turn is going to bring freedom to the hamstring.

Question – Upper hamstring pain in one leg, what to do? It depends – if it’s an injury, you have to rest, if it’s a stiffness you have to do.

Paschimottonasana Arms and elbows wide, like a tunnel. Like a train goes through a tunnel – in that manner you have to open the elbows for the trunk to go through. CCB if pain in the lower back – use a chair or bench for head to rest. Not just to rest the brain, this will make it possible for the spine to move forwards. Mind will be free to move the lower back.

Ardha Padma Paschimottonasana Let it be a loose padmasana. If you can’t do sit on a height, edge of platform, sofa etc practicing releasing the knee down. If the knee is not going down, you have to sit on a hight – compulsory. Both the hands hold the dandasana foot. Take the back INTO the body. Shoulder blade, trapezius downwards – that’s why headaches sometimes come in forward bends – because you hit the trapezius muscles upwards – it’s a blockage there. The trapezuis / shoulder blade should go back away from the neck, for the trunk to go forward. Back ribs INTO the body for the trunk to go forward.

AMSvanasana or Paschimottonasana – the sides of the diaphragm have to move forwards to go for paschimottonasana

Watch the responses rather than action itself – they will teach you much more than the actions.

Marichyasana 1 RS (Menstruation Upavista Konasana and Parsva Upavista Konasana) Height under seat if required. Stamp marichyasana inner heel. Hold dandasana foot CCB, keep the bent leg towards the side body, roll that knee in. Coil the armpits, back ribs IN, chest UP. Widen the clavicles, trapezius back and go forwards into the pose. perform an action and watch the responses.


Marichyasana 1 LS No guidance – you influence / guide / motivate yourself. Watch the responses.


Uttanasana How does it manifest after the forward bends as an independent asana (rather than preparatory pose or resting pose).

Supta Baddha Konasana No supports, lie flat on the floor. Arms over head so that any compression in anterior body can be released.

Question – Pubis getting crushed in forward bends. Keep the legs apart, groins have to go down. Sit on a height and take the inner thighs down from top to bottom.

Question – Getting a lot of gas in forward extensions. Is it happening just now, some indigestion? If yes I would say, don’t go for Marichyasana, some inversions, supta virasana, pavanmuktasana etc. If it’s a regular occurrence, then your forward bend practice it has to be such that there is no compression – start with supine poses to feel the length in your frontal body and that has to inform your forward bends. Can you keep that great length in your forward bending asanas. If it’s a digestive issue pindasana in sirsasana / sarvangasana.

Question – Sitting on a height does not help my padmasana, the angle between hip and knee does not change. Even if you try sitting on the platform? Then the groin is so tight – you need to go for supta padangusthasana 1 and 2, supta akunchanasana – lying prone with leg bent out to side like vira 2.

Question – Sciatica – It’s a different course for you, this type of intense forward bend should not be done.

Ardha Chandrasana Very brief. Open up chest, stomach, abdomen. Hip in.

AMSvanasana very brief

Virahbadrasana 3 Menstruation arms rested on table. Very brief. Get a good length, back body, front body, side body

AMSvanasana – UMSvanasana (height under palms for menstruation)

Ustrasana (menstruation chair viparita dandasana) x 3 attempts. Hands to support of 2 bricks outside the feet or bolster on the calves (not under the ankles which doesn’t give enough length) Kneel, arch your back, stamp your frontal ankles. Maybe in the forward bends you felt some compression, so open up all those areas and after you reach your heels, move your buttocks forwards and dorsal spine, shoulder blades IN to the body. Abdominal area long, chest area long.

Sirsasana (menstruation stay in DPVD, neck problem twistings) Make an action and observe the responses – learn to articulate those specific responses silently to yourself. Parsva Sirsasana

Question – During chemotherapy should I practice sirsasana. It is a time to conserve energy as the body is weakened. Take supine postures and supported purvottonasana. Rest well. Experienced practitioners, supported asanas only.

Setubandha You choose the variation – the panelists showed many different ways of practicing. Independent setubandha feet on the wall if required /over a single bolster / over 2 bolster /cross bolsters / over edge of a bed / over edge of a chair. Whichever version you have chosen, can you bring that union of body and mind? Lift upper shoulder blade to lower shoulder blade and dorsal spine SUCK it into the body – even if that means you have to bend the legs. Bent legs / sharp dorsal is more valuable than straight legs / dull dorsal. CHARGE your dorsal, CHARGE your side ribs – if your eyes, sides of the forehead become tense, discharge will happen – net result zero. Quieten your facial area, above the throat, it has to be savasana. From the throat downwards, active asana.

Bharadvajasana 1 To release any pressure.

Question – Which is better to have short stay in a pose and repeat several times, or make 1 attempt and stay a longer time. It depends – when you are learning a posture, maintaining an incorrect or sub-optimal posture is not suggested – no benefit to staying an extra half minute in ustrasana if the buttocks are hanging back. You have to be charged in what you are doing, the involvement has to complete. If shorter attempts are better for you to hold the involvement of your mind, then yes shorter attempts. For the senior practitioner, we sometimes have to learn to quieten our nerves to go beyond that initial urge to come down. So it depends on the level of the practitioner.

Savasana The breath has to be introduced to the body in such a manner that we will relax. For example, the exhalation has to be such that your upper chest gets released from the throat. The clavicles should not come closer to the throat. Wherever in the body you find there is tightening, you have to introduce the exhalation there. Anything hard, getting puffed, you have to learn to relax there. Relax from the brain cells, the arms – you have to relax with your exhalations – arms, palms, fingers, knuckles - they have to rest down. Have a smooth, soft exhalation. A kind of emptiness you have to create within – eyes, brain cells, ear drums, mouth empty. Empty the mouth, empty the nostrils, empty the area behind the cheeks. Empty the eyes. Stress always brings a fullness inside, so now whatever you have collected in the bran, you have to release it. Exhale – skin, abdomen, navel – recede towards the spine at the back. Long passive exhalation – nostrils quiet, receding. There has to be a clearance for the energy flow and there the exhalation helps you. All the areas have to remain quiet, except the centre chest which you have to activate, gently slightly to feel that energy coming.

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