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Day 4 - IYNAUS Autumn Sangha with Abhijata

I'm still managing my wild swimming - just about. Last year I swam until mid November, but this year I am only just able to bear it now. I arrived at the lake, grass laden with dew, but air temperature not too bad. Beautiful autumn colours reflecting in the lake. I deliberately build up the body heat when I am walking so that I am ready to cool off when I arrive and then just a quick dip to get the marvellous effect of the cold water - as Craig Foster says in the Netflix documentary 'My Octopus Teacher' (if you haven't seen it, trailer here it's worth watching) "The cold upgrades the brain". As soon as my bare feet hit the cool, wet grass I start to feel better. I sat on the shore with my legs dangling in the water, but found it was so cold, I got 'vein freeze' so had to take them out every 10 seconds or so to let them defrost. It took many repeats before my legs could bear the stinging cold of the water and then I had to go through the whole process again with my arms. Is it worth it? I eventually took the plunge and had a quick, deliciously cold swim - everything else just falls away - just me and the experience of the water. Somehow it takes you from witnessing the beauty of nature, to being part of it. When I got out, body was numb, but core was warm (they say you can swim 1 minute per degree of water - by that reckoning I could have been in a lot longer!) and then had, hands down, the best cup of steaming hot tea I've ever had (okay with one possible exception of the cup of tea I had in the tub after a long labour giving birth to my first child). I didn't just feel good, I felt AMAZING, honestly, dare I say it, even better than after yoga! Every cell in the body infused with life - it is a wonderful feeling. I have a rule that I stop swimming once I have had a swim that I didn't enjoy - if it has reached that time of year when I'm miserable and shivering afterwards, then no more swimming until the Spring. Looks like it's not quite over yet.....

Today's class focussed on backbends - we did a LOT of repeats of AMSvanasana, AMVrksasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana - see below. I have all four daughters at home to celebrate a 21st Birthday (hurrah!), so there will be a delay while I catch up on the last class tomorrow. I'll post at the first opportunity.

Day 4 – IYNAUS Autumn Sangha with Abhijata

Swastikasana with back against the wall Lean forwards and push your buttocks back until the lower back touches the wall completely, when you sit upright. Roll your shoulders back and fold your palms infront of your chest. See to it that both shoulders, both upper arms roll back towards the wall. Be tall. Your hairstyle will have to be changed if it is coming in the way of the back of your head touching the wall. On the wall you should learn to RUB your shoulder blades, your trapezius muscles downwards. With your palms in the centre of your chest, chin up, do not bow down and release the upper eyelids down. The extreme corners of the shoulder blades should go back to the wall and maintain that throughout the recitation of the invocation.

AMVirasana Palms spread apart to the edges of your sticky mat. Don’t just think about the palms extending forwards, from your SIDE TRUNK can you extend the palms forwards. Do not allow the shoulders to climb up towards the ears. If your thighs are too close to each other, your abdomen does not find the space. If your thighs are too far away from each other, the lumbar spine hangs – so have an appropriate distance.

Prasarita Paddotonasana Do not take your head down yet, stamp the outer edges of your feet, especially on the heels side. Now learn to grip your quadriceps that are closer to the knees HIGH UP, pull them up and hold them there. As you bring your head down, your mind has to be with the quadricep, to see that it does not become dull. Even if the head does not reach the floor, I don’t mind, but I want the quadricep to grip the thigh, both sides right and left. GRIPPED, GRIPPED, GRIPPED as you go down. Raise all the 10 toes up in the air so that quadriceps are gripped further. Place your arms such that the upper arms and forearms are perpendicular to each other. Now to come up, GRIP the quadriceps and stand up.

AMSvanasana (lady with hot flushes, close to menopause should start with reclining uttansasana, buttocks on the wall, feet 6 inches forwards of the wall so that the buttocks are leaning back, followed by normal uttansasna, then AMS head supported and Prasarita Paddottonasana half way, entire chest area supported, maybe chair plus horizontal bolster) Come to all fours and first open and spread the palm, before it touches the floor. As you come up - from the outer edges of the palm (little finger side) all the way up the outer side of the arm to the shoulder, pull upward. From the little finger side, ASCEND UP.

AMSvanasana repeat Remember spread the palm before you place it on the ground. The little finger side completely open, that gives you a better connection to the upper arm – biceps, triceps. And now the entire upper arm, the outer edge especially, sharply pull it upwards. Have a sharp extension upwards, so you feel that upper arm getting fixed into the socket. As though you are a bone surgeon there in AMS and you are fixing that humerus head into that socket. Go on extending yourself up in that manner – and for that how your fingers are is crucial – if your fingers are dull, you can’t do that. Climb up higher and higher. Jump or step to


Tadasana Now do you all know the hinge of your foot? (points to achilles area, directly in line with ankle bone) That has to be in its own tadasana, so don’t lean with your feet forward with weight in the toes. Come back so that this hinge goes back and at the same time I want you to feel a tallness, so that from the hinge you are climbing up. First the body weight back over the heels (without leaning back beyond the vertical) hinges tall, toes can be up. Shoulders down, upper arms down and in the beginning palms can be open, to get the movement there, to get the intelligence there fingers stretching and extending down.

AMSvanasana Moving the hinges back. Little finger side, extend UP, outer arm, extend UP sharply and now I want you to press the heels, so that the hinges you can once again, move them back. As you move your hinges back, come to the calf area. The calf area is always thick – can you open that so that it becomes thin?

DEMO – The centre calf, where the bulk of the calf is (that is where the varicose veins tend to come because that area is thicker) She gestured with her hand showing the whole area spreading outward and also moving backward (away from the leg).

AMSvanasana Shift your body weight onto your heels and that calf muscle OPEN IT UP! make it thinner, make it wider, make it longer – so there is no toxin which gets accumulated there. Root of the thighs ascend up, side body ascend up, shoulder blades ascend up and open out the calf area, push it back. You make them thinner by opening them.- expand the calf muscles in all directions.

Repeat AMS This calf action has to happen in AMS, Uttanasana, Tadasana, Prasarita Paddotonasna, so if you are bored of AMS now do uttanasana – I don’t mind but make that calf muscle longer, STRETCH IT, go on the back edges of your heels and open the hinges well. Inner calf, outer calf push back well.

AMVrksasana (1- ladies in periods uttanasana, padangusthasana, pada hastasana, parsvottonasana, prasarita paddottonasana 2-3 mins - each one concave back and then head down or chair support if you prefer 2 – Ladies with hot flushes have to open up the pelvic area (also good for menstruation) parsva utthita hasta padangusthasana and ardha chandrasana with wall support – your poses are pelvic opening and forward bends).

Urdhva Hastasana to prepare for AMVrk. Shoulders, shoulder blades move them down. Your inner arm has to extend up. The outer arm, the entire tricep area has to elongated upwards. So now in Urdhva Hastasana I