IYA UK Convention Day 1
The writing of this blog finds me at a completely different place in my life from last time we were together. After the closure of my physical studio, I am now working full time in a desk job and teaching online in the evenings. I arrived at today's class slightly apprehensive about demonstrating, given the reduced time I have available for practice. I was much heartened when Abhi started by asking us to put all of that aside and just to be in the now. Exactly what I needed to hear and I was able to just immerse myself completely in the joy of the class. There were so many familiar faces among the panelists and seen participants. The sequence was excellent and I think we all felt that we were elevated to a higher level of practice so that poses became fluid and open - even my ultra stiff hips and groins gained some movement.
Anyone who has ever attempted to teach Abhi's sequences will know that it is difficult to comprehend how she could possibly have fitted all these poses and all these instructions, into the allotted time. Instructions come rapidly and with a force that is not aggressive, but that charges you with a positive energy to do. Many of the poses below were only held for a few brief moments, long enough to feel the imprint and then move on. Others we worked in intensively and were held in place by the fire of her words to make a much deeper imprint. Within her classes, there is a lot of opportunity for rest and respite as we are given upavista konasana or baddha konasana to be seated while she speaks. The overall result is an energising, positive experience that always leaves me with a tremendous affection and respect for Abhi.
Today I am putting out a request for readers that are in a position to do so, to make a contribution to the fund that is being organised to help our friends in Pune who have lost their income due to the closure of the institute, some of whom have found themselves in desperate times. You can donate here by selecting Rima's fund
Day 1 IYA UK Convention
‘Nature has infinite potential and the yogi taps into this potential of nature’
Let us invoke the energy of this universal potential to energise us on this path that we want to walk afresh. Understand the value of now - Now is auspicious because it is all you have – many wanted it and did not have it.
Swastikasana –When you ascend your spine, watch your lower trunk and see to it that from your lower spine you get an ascending action upwards. Interlock your fingers and raise the arms upwards (Parvatasana) activate your lower spine, lift up as though your buttocks are going to FLY up – see what an ejection of your lower spine? Now maintain this ejection, maintain this lift and slowly bring the arms down. Keep your diaphragm soft and do not push the centre diaphragm forward. As a student of yoga your eyes may be open, but can you take your focus inwards? Upper eyelids down, attentive, alert pose. No part of your spine should collapse – if you have forgotten your parvatasana memory, once again interlock your fingers, raise your arms up and RECHARGE the back. Invocation to Patanjali.
AMSvanasana – open up the thigh muscles, calf muscles the back knee
Uttanasana feet and palms apart to width of the sticky mat
AMSvanasana – activate your legs and your arms.
AMVrkasana – if it possible you are happy if it difficult you are disappointed already.
Prasarita Paddotonasana –from urdhva hastasana swinging through the legs - your armpits have to go beyond the legs as you go down x 10 - the younger you are the faster you should go ‘speed and age inversely proportional’
AMSvanasana – forehead pressed into a bolster or blankets, the bottom skull perpendicularly cut down towards the ground and shoulder blades, ascend up. The rest of your back, side trunk ascend up. Roots of the thighs UP, dorsal, lumber UP. Thighs back, knees back.
Certain (those above) asanas contribute easily for your brain to become fresh. Patanjali said the path of yoga is easiest for one who is keen. One who is extremely vigorous in his attempts – the goal is nearer.
Sit in Upavista Konsasana – recollect the day you were unable to go up into full arm balance. If you were casual in your efforts, full arm balance would not have come to you. You had to jump again and again and again. When you were vigorous in your attempts, full arm balance became closer.
AMSvanasana holding outer edges of mat and sufficient height to be able to press the forehead down. Shoulders, shoulder blades LIFT up, armpits OPEN and now learn to climb up from your right side, left side back body. Exhale completely and now learn to open the thighs (bend your legs walk in with your feet to access your back thighs) and now come on LEG WORK! Thigh! top most thigh! Buttocks back x 3
Tadasana feet together, different lightness, freshness in your brain after AMSvanasana. Jump legs apart.
Utthita Trikonasana (both sides) Now when the right leg is turning out, the left thigh should not come forward. Take it back! And go down into trikonasana, top arm straight up. Your centre thoracic spine, take it IN to the body. Your right buttock, take it INto the body and your left thigh, TURN it. Right shoulder blade IN, left outer thigh TURN. Right side waist long. Shoulders away from the neck, top arm firm.
Supta Swastikasana upright brick in centre thoracic spine and upright bolster supporting neck (youngsters, can leave head hanging if comfortable) Pain in lumbar, raise the seat on a blanket so that curvature is lesser. Elbows bent, imagine I am putting an iron rod across the elbows, so that your upper arms get pulled downwards. Put your palms down on the floor and arch your neck so that your chin goes down – measure where your eye level is and find out can you arch further to bring your eye level down? 1!! 2!! 3!! As if I was standing there at your head side and I was gently pushing your chin downwards towards the ground for your neck to arch further.
Utthita Trikonasana (both sides) – You see what a great freedom there is to your thoracic spine? How much it is into the body? Right buttock, right outer thigh, deeper and deeper INto the body.
The prop acts as the teacher when s/he is not there to make the adjustment.
Brick setubandha sarvangasana long belt looped around the feet and grasped with the hands. Walk with your palms closer to the feet so that the arms are straight, shoulders are pulled back. Roll the thighs in, straighten the legs – identify which is the inner thigh – top inner thigh to the
bottom inner thigh, CUT it down. Raise the armpits, pressurise the upper arms down, go on walking with your palms, open up your chest. Can you work on the stretch of your legs? Heels rubbing away from you. Before you come down, can you come to your uppermost thigh, which is the bulkiest one and can you PRESS that down, rolling the thighs down PRESS PRESS PRESS and with least movements you will go to
Utthita Trikonasana on left side first for a change. Look straight in front. How your brick setubandha was pushing your buttock, can you adjust the buttock in that manner? You have the memory of supta swastikasana brick, you have the memory of brick setubhanda, can BOTH of them – your thoracic spine and tailbone area, can they BOTH go into the body.
Was it better behaved?
Right side Trikonasana - Tailbone! Thoracic Spine! Tailbone! Thoracic Spine! ONLY be with your tailbone and thoracic spine and let the rest of the pose unfold.
Vrksasana right leg bent (left hand to wall if required) Move the right leg groin to the inner knee, lengthen this way. Move your right inner knee to the outer knee.
Vrksasana left leg bent left groin to inner knee, left front thigh descending down towards the inner knee, left outer thigh also going down toward the knee so that buttock is free.
AMSvanasana jump forward Uttansasna - Urdhva Hastasana – Uttanasana – AMSvanasana (rapid, no instructions)
Right side Utthita Parsvakonasana You are on your own – your own best attempt at parsvakonasana. Left side – on your own.
Right leg ardha padmasana standing – holding foot with left hand, right hand on wall if needed for balance. Padmasana knee slightly wider (not straight down). Padmasana front thigh, let it descend down. The inner thigh, let it move. Now move the right leg BACK, swing it BACK (repeatedly). Lie down on your back.
Supine ardha padmasana, left leg straight (you can keep it bent if too difficult loose padmasana
foot near the knee) – right groin to the right knee, descend it down, inner thigh lengthen and learn to press it down. BRING the right thigh down (repeatedly).
Optional – best on a thick mat prone ardha padmasana, blanket under the right knee (don’t go for this if you get ankle pain in padmasana). Where the thigh and the buttock meet, that has to go down first – learn to take the buttock lower down, lower down, lower down.
Quickly go for parsvakonasana on the right side. You see your groin, inner thigh, outer hip – are they behaving better? Is there more freedom? Rotate the pelvis, keep that top hand on the waist and now whatever came in padmasana, you have to do that. So, move that right groin forward, right buttock INto the body, move the right knee back and turn the pelvis. Follow the padmasana lesson! That is your teacher, not me! One last time, rotate completely, turning the buttock IN!
Sit in baddha konasana – yoga helps us to see reality – it improves your perception. We were under the impression we had done a good parsvakonasana, but your padmasana changed your perception of this and enabled you to see it in a different way.
Ardha Padmasana standing left leg Roll the pelvis upwards like urhva mukha svanasana because in parsvakonasnaa this action has to come. Stand tall, shoulders back. Now the padmasana leg, outer thigh, outer buttock INTO the body! in parsvakonasana same action – knee back! Buttock forward! (repeatedly). Eyes slightly up, chin slightly up and knee back, buttock forward – learn to bear that pain. Lie down on your back
Supine ardha padmasana left leg– turn the calf muscle, thigh muscle etc bent leg for those that can’t do full padmasana, foot close to the knee like supta padang 4, it opens the hip. Those doing the full pose, pressurise the thigh down without pushing the lumbar up – otherwise same is happening in parsvakonasana, buttock is not going in, only the lumbar is going in. Knee down! Thigh down! My thigh has to press down and at that time, my right waist should not go up. My right buttock should go IN, my right outer thigh should go IN but at the same time, the lower abdomen has to be moving towards the upper abdomen.
Prone ardha padmasana left leg, blanket under the knee so that your patella doesn’t get caught on the sticky mat, right leg extended toes tucked under – but first look! Some of you were going into prone without adjusting the padmasana knee to the correct position so the hip was not working. First kneel in ardha padmasana, then before lying prone, lift the knee up and take the thigh back (in the direction of the extended leg foot), the knee back and then lie prone. Adjust again in the prone position to take the knee further back. Now you find out how to turn the abdomen, how to lengthen the chest, how to press the buttock in. Holding the padmasana foot with your right hand, lift your padmasana knee and take it back! Buttock, buttock, buttock! If I were helping you, I would bring a brick or a rod and I would show you what it is to press the weight downwards! The right buttock should not be a puri, it should be a chapati! Not a donut but a tortilla! So let it be flat, go down, go down, go down!
Utthita Parsvakonasna left side, top hand on the waist, so that the focus is more on the hip, buttock, groin and rotate the pelvis. So you see how much improvement you can pursue in your utthita parsvakonasana?
Vira 2 (extremely brief) once on your own, you do whatever is needed in your chest, stomach abdomen
Prone akunchanasana right leg (leg bent at right angle like vira 2 prone) blanket under knee and shin. From the right groin to the right knee can you lengthen? Get up! because the groin / hip is still caught.
Baddha Konasana, brick narrow way between feet Press your hands down to raise the buttocks up, thighs down and then mooove your buttock bones away from the anal mouth to sit down. Let that area open. 1 side is stiffer, you can use your hand to press that side down. Press! Press! Press!
Now in a moment you are going to take your right leg to akunchanasana so let your left leg be down – slightly tilt so that your left leg can be downwards. Now putting your left hand on the left knee to keep it from lifting, and take the right knee down (repeatedly pressing and releasing).
Right leg Prone Akunchanasana your right knee, can it move away from the right groin? Put your hand under the inner knee and slide it away. Put your hands down like chaturanga dandasana, raise your right knee up and lengthen it away from the groin to place it down. Right buttock has to be pressed DOWN can you PUMP that area down and turn the head to the left side, turn the chest, stomach abdomen from right to left. For whom the gross posture is not too
bad, lift the knee off the floor and take the buttock down.
Now put the right hand under the groin and see what is the gap there? We don’t want it like London Bridge! So move that right groin down! Move that right buttock down! Without changing the shape of the foot. Down! Down! Down! Down! And now turn right side of the abdomen which is closest to the groin, AWAY from the groin – turn it away! Turn it away! Turn it away! Now you are going to come up shortly, so can you really give it ALL to MOVE that right buttock down? If I were to put 100kg weight on your butoock, what would happen? Do that! Bear that discomfort!
Vira 2 right side, maintain the memory from the akunchanasana position. Was it better?
Baddha Konasana brick between the feet – in different areas of the body, tightnesses exist – as practitioners of yoga we have to work towards at least minimising the discrepancy between right side and left side. Any kind of job is going to have its own stress, strain, difficulty. Even though we look at stress as a psychological condition, it also has a physical component. Which part of your body has the tendency to reflect the stress? Hip, groin, neck – some of you get headaches when you are stressed, some of you feel heavy in your chest – stress definitely affects the body. If you keep the body flexible, stress will not work in its usual way on the chemistry of the body. By doing so many asanas (pans camera around the pics of Guruji on the institute walls) stress will not affect the body in its usual way. Whatever range of movement that there is in the joints, it should be used.
Repeat whole sequence on left side.
AMVrksasana (half for those who cannot do, prasarita padd for menstruation) buttocks away from the wall. From the wrist you have to ascend up – come down!
Vasthisthasana on the right hand from AMSvanasana. (you can use the wall ropes for the top hand to hold for support if available) Top arm straight up, lift the right hip up, buttock in, shoulder blade in, open the chest, right chest forward.
Quickly go for full arm balance and notice how the right arm is feeling. You notice the stark difference? In vasthisthasana there is fear of falling, so you want to lift up, up, up and that was translated into your full arm balance.
Vastisthasana left side
AMVrksasana notice how automatically one side is going up.
Ardha Chandrasana no instructions your own pose. See how much the big toe is dancing bottom foot.
Supta Padangusthasana 2 take right foot all the way over to the floor, extend your left arm in line with the shoulder. Imagine if someone is looking down on us from above, this is nothing but ardha chandrasana. Now what was shaking in ardha chandrasana? Now can you here bring the density in your big toe? The mound of the big toe, can you project it? Make it dense, make it dense, make it dense – something happens in the right groin? To make the right foot dense, the right inner thigh / groin has to work. Move it UP towards the ceiling, right foot is down, but right groin up towards the ceiling. If I had a helper here, I would ask them to put a rope around my right outer thigh, right outer hip and LIFT it up toward the ceiling and I will keep the right foot down (don’t pull the right foot up towards the shoulder, ardha chandrasana is leg at right angle to body). Now the right frontal thigh, press it down – the right back thigh, touch the ground, touch the ground (repeatedly).
Prone Supta Padangusthasana 2 foot or inner knee on brick at wall. Hands like chaturanga dandasana. Left leg straight and toes anchored. Move that right hip down, that right buttock down, now turn the chest stomach, abdomen away from the sideways leg. That right buttock, right hip joint – that is the culprit of ardha chandrasana – meditate on that right hip / buttock and take it down to the ground! Use your hands like chaturanga dandasana, lift up and TURN the stomach, chest and abdomen.
Ardha Chandrasana right leg wall if needed, understanding the hip and groin is more important than managing your balance there. Was your pose not more stable?
Repeat all left side
Supta pad 2 – converge all your attention on that left buttock – single point of attention on that left buttock. Bring the same focus you use to balance in the centre of the room in sirsasana, kukukatasana and bring that same focus onto your left buttock. The right thigh close to the right buttock, touch it down! And rub the heel away from you. (she forgot to do the prone!)
Ardha Chandrasana – move the buttock forward standing leg, unfold, unfold, pelvic turn.
AMSvanasana – Uttanasana very brief, no instruction
You all observed the physical improvement you brought to the posture after the influential poses? What about the mental imprint? Yoga is ‘chitta vritti nirodahah’ – restraining the fluctuations of consciousness. Yoga markedly calms the mind but gives you an energised body. When a calm mind and an energised body come together, it is a technology – there is a potential for excellence in whatever you do if it has to be fruitful and efficient. Secondly it helps to free the mind from the clutter. There are infinite things you can think of – but when you attempted your asanas with the focus that was taught – your mind was not caught in thinking all these things. It taught a focus to your mind, the clutter of the mind is switched off. It helps you focus on what is needed without any distraction.
Sirsasana (menstruation chair viparita dandasana) Buttocks in, legs straight – don’t swing your legs forward and backwards – search what is that plumbline? Buttocks into the body, thighs roll in, inner legs ascending up, middle buttock going INto the body. Shoulders UP, shoulder blades UP and into the body. Recollect your supta swastikasana which we did at the beginning of the class – that imprint has be relived here, can you MOVE your thoracic spine into the body like your supta swastikasana. Can you MOVE your buttocks into your body like your brick setubandha? Stretch the legs well, stretch the back of the knees well. Now from the buttocks, from the waist, can you ascend up towards the legs. Go on climbing upwards. Front thigh to the back thigh, maintain the contact. Right shoulder, left shoulder UP!
Bent leg parsva eka pada sirsasana x 2 each side – turn the right leg out and then bend the right leg like your supta akunchanasana (vira 2 shape) Turn the inner knee to the outer knee and let the right knee go back in the line of your hip BACK, BACK, BACK! Now the angle of the right leg shouldn’t change, just straighten the right leg for parsva eka pada sirsasana. Left side bend the leg, shin back! Knee back! Buttock IN! (repeatedly) and straighten the leg in the same angle, without lifting the thigh up.
Adho Mukha Virasana AMSvanasana
Optional vishmavitrasana from parsvakonasana (alternative janu sirasana) option to hold the rope with top hand to take the weight off and lift the foot. Make sure there is enough distance between the legs or you will not be able to lift the foot. 2 or 3 attempts each side. Use the top hand to lift the foot so that you get a lightness.
Sarvangasana we were taking too long to set up from sarvangasana so we had to come down and go for jumpings:
Urdhva Hastasana – Uttanasana – Utkatasana – Uttanasana – Urdhva Hasatsana – AMSvanasana – Eka Pada AMSvanasana right leg – AMSvanasana – UMSvanasana – AMSvanasana – Eka Pada AMSvanasana left leg – AMS – Uttanasana – Urdhva Hastasana – Uttanasana – Chaturanga Dandasana – UMSvanasana – AMSvanasana – jump Ustrasana – Supta Virasana – AMVirasana
Sarvangasana – palms lower down, back higher up (repeatedly). Left shoulder blade, right shoulder blade, go on ascending up. Bend the right leg, like akunchansana – take the knee back, roll it inside out, buttock deeper into the body and then straighten the leg in the same angle. Parsva eka pada sarvangasana Left side and repeat both sides for 2nd attempt on your own. Halasana and spread the legs in supta konasana – front thigh to the back thigh, ascend up, Palms lower down, back higher up, thighs up, knees up. Halasana walk your feet further away from your head, palms on the back, back higher up and come back to sarvangasana. Now as we come towards the conclusion of the class, can you get the vertical lift of the posture. Let us revisit all the body parts we focussed on today – thoracic spine. Come down to halasana and one by one lift your shoulder and roll it so that you come on the FRONT edge of the shoulder bone, otherwise you come on the bulk of the trapezius. Back up to sarvangasana one leg at a time. Now thoracic spine – brick setubandha what did it teach you? Now in your baddha konasana etc your hips had to be INto the body, get that firmness, now your outer hips have to be HELD into the body. In padmasana your inner thighs were lengthened, so here also stretch your inner legs. In supta pad 2 / ardha chandrasana your hips, buttocks went in, here also keep the buttocks into the body. In your vastisthasana / AMVrksasana we were firm on the arms – interlock your fingers, stretch the arms back and balance in sarvangasana. Now once again thoracic Spine! Buttock!
Savasana (paschimottonasana if back or neck is paining). The neck back of the neck, sides of the neck elongated. Eyes closed. Relax feet, palms, hands. Swallow your saliva. Do not open your chest aggressively but gently lift it up so that you can reclaim the energy that you spent in the asanas. Head in the centre, let the breathing become softer, let the body receive its rest. Let the breathing happen in its own rhythm. Don’t try to make any forceful adjustments on the breath.