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Days 5 and 6 - Day off and Standing Poses with Rajalaxmi

Behind the red door is a shrine to the Godess Lakshmi which this friendly lady invited us inside to see.

Oh what a lovely couple of days it's been. Sunday is a day off (unless you want to go and observe the children's class) and we really made the most of it. I started with a leisurely practice on the rooftop terrace and enjoyed lying on my back looking up at the many birds of prey circulating on the thermals in different tiers, much like the planes at

Heathrow when they are vertically stacked waiting for a landing spot, interspersed with the occasional green parrot squawking past at speed.

Then myself, Judy and Sue went for lunch at a place I'd not been to before, called Tales and Spirits over near SB Road. It has an unusual and varied menu and beautifully presented food - plenty of oohs and ahs when Sue's came out sizzling on its own mini grill and top-dressed with edible pink flowers. And as ever lovely to be able to treat yourself to all the luxuries without the crazy price tag this would have created back home.

We then ambled over to the Marriott to bask in the sun and swim in the rooftop pool which was honestly heavenly and I felt myself relax properly, possibly for the first time since arriving in Pune. It was a lovely sociable afternoon catching up with the other yogi's who this year are almost exclusively from London.

Monday continued in a similar vein, starting the day with a cup of peppermint tea and pranayama on the rooftop. We had to say goodbye to our host Hemant who was flying back to San Francisco after making the trip here to make sure everything was set up for us to be comfortable in our stay. We have certainly kept him busy with endless requests and he has patiently and with good humour met them all. A highly recommended host (I'll post more pics of the Pawar residence later in the month for those that are interested in staying in the future).

As ever there was so much contained within the class, that I couldn't possibly remember it all, added to which, it has to filter through the limited lens of my understanding. The mistakes are all mine! We did do some actions in this class which are less often taught - normally the focus in tadasana / sirsasana / sarvangasana is an inward rotation of the front thighs, but today we worked on an outward rotation in order to better grip the hips and to allow us to properly bring the pubic bone forwards and upward to avoid collapsing the front of the pelvis.

Rajalaxmi Intermediate Class - 6.30pm Monday - Standing Poses

  • Swastikasana for invocation – Here she clarified further the work we did in pranayama class on Thursday. Collar bones at the front have to widen – don’t just push the shoulders back, but widen the collar bones and take the *first (uppermost) rib on the upper back body downwards. And then, so that with this action we don’t just get compressed, lift the outer bottom shoulder blade upwards. It is the nature of the lumbar to be overly concave, resist this tendency by keeping abdominal contents close to the spine - the front of the pelvis and back of the pelvis have to run parallel to each other. *She referred to the ‘first rib’ throughout the class – have a look at back body skeleton image below to see its location. She also regularly referred to the rectus (as we call the six pack) and the obliques which are the muscles either side of the rectus on the outer abdomen.

  • Tadasana –. We know we have to keep the knees tight, lift thighs, take tailbone forward, keep weight on heels etc – but now instead of trying to do these things all at the same time, take feet apart and NAIL the outer ankle bone deep inwards (resisting inner ankle bone outward) and straighten the knees maintaining this action and find out how these actions unfold of their own accord. See how the arches of the feet are lifting, the knees and thighs are alert, buttocks are firm and tailbone finds its own place. Collar bones wide, first rib downwards to extend the arms. Lengthen the obliques and rectus fully upwards, but also widen them to the sides.

  • Often we think of taking the front thighs back, but she wanted us to take front thighs back AND back thighs forwards, outer thighs inwards, inner thighs outwards – the whole muscular body of the leg clinging tightly to the bone as if the bone is iron and the muscles are magnets – magnetize them to the bone.

  • Urdhva Hastasana

  • Baddangullyasana – see how the little fingers try to slide apart. Slightly bend the elbows widening them outwards. Widen the shoulder blades to better enable you to keep the little fingers properly interlaced and then maintaining that, straighten the arms.

  • Trikonasana X 3 coming up to UH padasana to bring in different teaching points and going down again– First teaching point was about how we tend to rest heavily on the knee of the front leg (we often say that we are hyper-extending it or pushing it too much downwards). To avoid this, she taught that you have to bring the calf muscle towards the shin. Also, this happens when we overly tilt the pelvis to go down to trikonasana. We came back up and in PUHPadasana focussed on the outward rotation of the outer back thigh, simultaneously gripping the outer left hip in – even if we turned the left foot out instead of in, to be certain we had this outward rotation and the front thigh resisting back. We then raised the top arm to fully extend the lower side trunk as we went down.

  • To illustrate this point, she got us to sit in baddha konasana and observe the outward rotation of the upper thighs with grip on outer hips and then come up and repeat trikonasana with that outward rotation. She made the point that it is the bone itself that has to rotate, not to think of muscle necessarily, but the bone itself rotating.

  • Next we looked at how we have to lift the pubic bone and lower abdomen up, lengthening the obliques and rectus muscles upward. In UH Padasana she had us bend slightly forwards and take the wrists and elbows to the flesh of the lower pubic and then pressing them slightly into the body sweep the whole area upwards with the pressure of the wrists and elbows. This made a dramatic difference to poses all around the room (including mine).

  • We had a very long stay in trikonasana bringing all these points together. Outer ankle nailed in. Pubic area sweeping upwards towards chest, obliques and rectus lengthening, whole circumference of the muscles of the legs magnetized to the bone, back body top rib cutting into the body, outward rotation in back leg with outer hip grip.

  • Vrksasana – It is the grip of the buttocks that gives you stability in the balance. Go to the wall if needed to fully get this buttock grip and with the buttock grip, bring the buttock inside to take the knee back and see that the knee releases downward. Nail the outer ankle in.

  • Vira 2 – Bending the front leg with all the actions learnt previously in trikonasana, the resistance and outwards rotation of the left thigh along with the firm grip of the outer left hip / outer ankle. Bending the right knee by descending the LEFT buttock bone down. First rib cutting down into the upper back body. She had us come up to UH Padasana (feet forwards) and repeat the action of using the elbows and wrists to sweep the pubic and abdomen up and then taking our hands to dig the thumbs IN to the area at the back where the upper leg meets pelvis and maintaining this grip repeat Vira 2. (Same actions on left side).

  • AMSvanasana – First lift head so that gaze is parallel to the floor and then fully lift the first rib up into the body so that you can release the neck down with softness. Front thigh, back thigh, outer thigh, inner thigh muscles all drawn to the bone. Bend the knees and lift the pubic bone up to the buttock bones and maintaining this action, straighten the legs. Jumping to Uttanasana.

  • Parsvakonasana – Resistance and outward rotation in outer left thigh. Outer hip / outer ankle gripped in. Sweeping entire pubic / abdominal area towards chest, Lengthen rectus / obliques. Cut first rib on upper back body into you. Slightly bend top elbow up towards the ceiling and use this action to descend the top upper rib downwards so that it doesn’t bulge towards the ceiling and then restraighten the arm over the ear.

  • Dandasana – Here we usually learn to spread the back thigh on the floor, but can you move it into the bone?

  • Padmasana and parsva padmasana turning and catching the back foot. Make it a loose padmasana so that the foot is not hanging over the edge of the thigh. Often we just swing the arm rather than turning the body properly, so that the side we are turning to, gets ‘pinched’, shrunken. Before turning we had to lengthen the right obliques fully upward and maintaining this action turn to the right side keeping the collar bones wide and shoulders parallel to each other, so whole unit is turning as one. Maintaining this action to catch the foot. Repeat left side same actions.

  • Paschimottonasana – often we bring the first rib into the neck and force the head down. Come forwards in such a way that you maintain the first rib into the body.

  • Sirsasana – You need to bring the tadasana actions taught earlier into the sirsasana. Collar bones widen and first rib lift up.

  • Parsva Sirsasana – when you turn to the right the weight has to come onto the left side.

  • Sarvangasana – Thighs rolling from inner to outer to enable you to cut buttock in and bring pubic bone forward. Take feet apart and cut outer ankle in (resisting inner ankle) to keep the feet / toes soft and lengthen whole inner leg upward. Maintaining these actions join legs together.

  • Supta Swastikasana, tucking the first rib under. Head and chest up on the Sarvangasana supports and buttocks down on the floor.

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