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Day Off and Day 13 Leg Work and Forward Extensions with Rajalaxmi

Sue and I headed off early to the market at Tulsi Baug to beat the heat of the day and hopefully avoid the worst of the crowds. Pune takes a relaxed approach to Sunday mornings and many places were still closed, so we watched it all unfold as doors were unlocked and tables full of wares were set out all around. The market is a feast for the senses- so much to see and experience and sometimes (as in above pic) you can see the vendors creating the goods they are selling. I always buy all my kitchen stuff in India and Sue commented that it may be the happiest she has ever seen me as I sorted through the treasure trove of stainless steel implements in one of the many kitchen shops!

As the heat of the day started to get too much, we spotted an intriguing doorway just off of one of the main bustling alleyways. The moment you stepped into the passageway a palpable change in atmosphere could be felt - cool and calm - it was a hidden square with a wooden temple in the middle. A gallery of market scenes below for those that are interested.

This morning we visited Amit Pawar's studio for some personalised instruction for particular issues we were facing. With just 3 of us in the studio, there was plenty of opportunity to get some individual correction and advice. Amit's studio sits on the 9th floor of the Baja Building high above the river with glass walls providing a panoramic view of the surrounds - it's spectacular with the Kites swooping all around and pretty surreal to be up so high that you are sometimes looking at them from above. Wow!

Rajalaxmi's class this evening focussed on the action of taking the pubic bone back towards the sitting bones in AMSvanasana, Uttanasana, Urdhva Dandasana and the forward extensions. It took me a while to fully understand what she was asking us to do - more than half way through the class I asked her to make sure I was getting it right (I wasn't) and she drew my attention to the pictures of Guruji in these poses. It is not the commonly taught action of lifting the pubic bone up towards the navel, but taking it directly back towards the sitting bones creating an uddiyana bandha action, see pics. To illustrate this action, she took the wooden pole and showed that if one end is pushed back then the other end necessarily gets pushed forward. When I got the action correctly, I felt it created a lot of length in the lowest part of my spine and a deep V shape in the pubic area which created the abdominal length and soft dip that is uddiyana bandha.

Day 13 – Rajalaxmi - Leg work and Forward Bends

  • Swastikasana for the invocation. Unfold the spine. Unfold each separate compartment of the spine. From the hips to the armpits raise the sides of trunk up. Broaden the ribs.

  • AMSwastikasana to a ledge – Sit on a blanket, no sticky mat, so that you can slide backwards on the floor. We started a little closer to the ledge, bent forwards to the ledge and then moving the pubic bone to the sitting bones, pushed back into a forward extension. Elbows bent and should be up – don’t push the head down – lift the head so that you can move the first rib into you. Outer thighs have to have that grip like Baddha Padmasana. We came up and either did Baddha Padmasana or Swastikasana holding the feet from underneath to observe the outer thigh grip, before repeating AMSwastikasana with this imprint.

  • Paschimottonasana – Same method, sitting on folded blanket with bent legs, move pubic bone to sitting bones and push against the ledge to slide back into paschimottonasana.

  • AMSvanasna with the same understanding. Lift the pubis and the front of the thighs have to move back so that the pubic bone can move back. Take the pubic bone BACK towards the sitting bones and observe the softness of the abdomen, Uddiyana Bandha action.

  • Uttanasana – Pubic bone to sitting bones to descend down. Crown of the head is the stopper, so as body releases down, the crown of the head resists this movement and makes a connection to the tailbone. She got us to come up so that she could explain this further – brain is floating in cerebral fluid, you can picture it shaped like a walnut – when you descend in uttanasana, see that you don’t unnecessarily push or force the head down and disturb the position of the brain floating in the fluid – it shouldn’t get pushed towards the skull. We need to maintain softness in the face and lower jaw moving towards bottom ear. Back of the skull away from the neck, but crown of head resisting towards the tailbone.

  • Prasarita Paddottonasana – Same actions – when you move the pubis towards the sitting bones and the front of the thighs towards the back of the thighs, see you don’t push the back thigh back – resist the back of the thigh, back of the calf towards the bone – back thigh towards the thigh bone, back calf towards the shin bone.

  • Sirsasana – She got us to come down after witnessing a mistake on someone, who was closing the space in the palm and allowing the wrist to roll out. She taught that the fingers need to be interlaced ‘bone on bone’ it’s not a muscular action. If you make it a muscular action, neck also becomes muscular which is wrong action. Bone on bone action in the hands to support the extension of the neck, wrists vertical and inner skin of the wrist cutting down. Tailbone and middle buttocks are moving into you and back inner thigh has to move to the front, so that thigh is rotating from inner to outer and hips can grip.

  • Urdhva Dandasana to 90 degrees down and up x 4 – 1) Pubic bones to sitting bones 2) Outer ankles gripping in to control the pose 3) Extend the toes without making them hard.

  • Virasana Parvatasana – Both interlocks and then with the understanding of the actions of Parvatasana, repeat Sirsasana and Urdhva Dandasana X 3.

  • AMVirasana

  • Paschimottonasana – Start with bent legs and hold outer edges of feet. Pubic bone moving towards sitting bones and legs have to come into you – moving into the sockets to straighten the legs. Then we repeated holding onto the lower rope rings / the grille sliding backwards to straighten the legs, maintaining pubis to sitting bones.

  • Sarvangasana – We prepared by taking a bolster where it would support the buttocks when we rolled down so that the head wouldn’t suddenly get jerked away from the floor when we rolled down. Then we rolled to Halasana, fingers interlocked and stretching back, supported back and went up. Same principles in Sarvangasana –If you want to move tailbone in, thigh rotation has to happen. Outer ankle to inner ankle, outer legs will be holding you. Then with this action come down halfway to Halasana (like an Urdhva Dandasana but in Sarvangasana) and back up x 4 – do not take the buttocks back for this action, spine is not moving, legs are moving!

  • Halasana – Supta Konasaa – Parsva Konasana Take care not to disturb the abdomen or shoulders when left legs walks to the right. The way the back is on the palm should not change when you go to Parsva – abdomen / shoulders will not walk! Only legs will walk! - Supta Konasana – Left side Parsva – Supta Konasana – Halasana - Karnapidasana – Halasana – Now you are going to roll down very, very carefully, head is not going to change at all so that it does not jerk suddenly upwards when you roll down.

  • Paschimottonasana – Here we had a demonstration of how the upper back pelvis (where the dimples of the sacrum are) has to press forwards to extend into Paschimottanasana so that the lower abdomen rests on the bed of the thighs. We observed how when the movement is initiated by pressing this area, the lowest part of the back body really spread out.

  • Janu Sirsasana both sides – It is not Vrksasana leg, in Janu the leg is folded with toes extended. See that you don’t shift the buttocks when you fold the leg. Initiating the movement forwards from the upper back pelvis pressing. In Janu the folded knee has to press the floor – don’t fall onto straight leg side. Both obliques have to remain long to extend forward, don’t let straight leg side oblique shrink or get lost – we came up and cupped straight leg side fingers on floor so that we could lift and rotate the body over the straight leg, using the other hand on outer foot to aid in extension and rotation. Rectus muscle has to extend towards the sternum side, shift the breasts forward.

  • Paschimottonasana

  • Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana 2 – moving the pubic bone to the sitting bones helped to lengthen the lower spine back down towards the floor. Outer thigh grip, inner leg extension. Outer ankle gripping towards inner ankle.

  • Savasana – Back of skull away from the neck, forehead spreading to the side and moving back.

‘Respect each and every part of your physical embodiment’

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