Day 2 -Yoganusasanam 2020 Zoom with Abhijata.
Today we focussed on twists, with this week's theme of Yoga Sutra 2.1 woven in.
"Tapah svadhyaya Isvarapranidhanani kriyayogah"
Which is translated by Guruji as
'Burning zeal in practice, self-study, study of the scriptures and surrender to God are acts of yoga.
We began once again with standing poses, using them to cultivate the skill of observation in order to improve our right perception - not just in our yoga asanas but as a wider life-skill. After parivrtta parsvakonasana, she told us that each of us fall into different groups. Those who accomplished parivrrta parsvakonasana are happy. Those who did not accomplish the pose fall into 2 groups. You were either inspired or you gave up and became dejected. The moment you become dejected, the body becomes heavier and you don’t even want to try. Those of you who were really trying, you were focussed on the task in hand – any asana is a condensed form of what has to happen in life. It empties the mind of clutter if you are mindful in your approach, so you can focus on what you need without distraction. What else is citta vrtti nirodahah about? (Guruji has already said, if you are casual in your approach, the effects are casual). The ancient wisdom of yoga is relevant today! It is eternally an aid for us.
We worked intensively on spinal extension in parivrtta trikonasana, learning to keep the legs firm to eject the pelvis towards the sternum and get proper rotation and then brought these actions into the standing and sitting poses that followed.
After class I went to Westonbirt Arboretom to walk with family and mentally prepare for my new job which starts on Monday. It will be painful for me to have to miss the last day of teaching and blogging, but this IS the task in hand for me at the moment and although I will be teaching on Monday evening, I hope to find the time later in the week to catch up.
Yoganusasanam 2020 Zoom with Abhijata – Day 2
Swastikasana Invocation - Lift yourself from the bottom spine well upwards. After sitting for some time, the breathing starts to get gradually deeper – if you have settled. The body takes its own time – understand the rhythm of the body, rhythm of the breath, rhythm of the mind. If you are still breathless, because of some stress, you can be in AMVirasana to settle.
Adho Mukha Virasana – Extend yourself well forwards, upper back descending downwards. Once in a while lift your head up and move more forwards. Take hands or head on height if required.
AMSvanasana – Take proper distance, so that the upper thighs, you can PUSH back. Go with your frontal thighs, knees, frontal ankle backwards. If upper back is not responding because of stiffness in the shoulders, take some height under the palms – bricks / blocks / step/ books. Move from the upper shoulder blades UPWARDS and dig your dorsal spine IN to the body.
Uttanasana feet apart - Extend yourself downwards from the waist corners. If there is stiffness from yesterday, see that you release your back downwards.
Prasarita Paddottonasana – descend the side ribs down. For those who are not able to easily touch the ground, put your hands a little forwards and exhale and from your abdominal pelvic area, just let go. When you struggle to go down the body becomes hard and it will not allow you to go down. There should be no hardness in your abdominal area - just descend downwards (head support if required).
We are starting with standing poses as they are useful to learn the skill of observation and get acquainted with ourselves.
Tadasana – different feet positions to learn this process of observing
1) Roll the back of the thighs from the inside to the outside – there is a change which happens in the lumbar spine.
2) Turn feet outwards – watch your back (a narrowing around lower spine)
3) Turn your feet inwards – watch you back (a widening around the lower spine).
4) Feet together – watch your back
Utthita Hasta Padasana – Parsva Utthita Hasta Padasana the pubis to the top sternum has to go UP, that is the direction of the front body – bottom to top. The direction of the back body is from the top to the bottom. With this action – anterior body bottom to the top, posterior body top to the bottom – roll yourself in that manner, make a semi-circle of your trunk and be in
Utthita Trikonasana Head back, buttock in. Today I want you to give a goooood length to your spinal area. The root of the thigh suck back and the pelvic girdle learn to eject it in the opposite direction – don’t let it be fused onto the leg but eject it and make the front body longer.
Uttanasana chair or stool support for BENT arms and learn to lengthen your side trunk. Root of thigh back and EJECT the pelvic area forwards.
Uttanasana buttocks / back of the thighs touching the wall and chair / stool support (start with feet away from wall and then once you go down, walk back with your feet) – same action. Wall teaches us that we thought we were ejecting the pelvis forwards, but actually it was the buttocks that were coming forwards. Buttocks should not leave the wall and pelvic girdle let it come forwards, trunk should come forwards, chest should come forwards. Use your bent arms there to lengthen the pelvic area forwards.
Our perception begins to improve – in your first attempt you thought you had mobilised the pelvic girdle, but the moment you came to the wall you understood this perception was false.
Patanjali said false knowledge is an obstacle in the path of yoga. Guruji extended this to say that false perception also obstacle in life. The moment your observation improves, your perception changes. We have to cultivate this right perception for better yoga and better living.
Prasarita Paddottonasana same method at wall with chair and bent arms. As if root of thighs are tied to the wall. Don’t dig your diaphragm down, centre diaphragm to the sides. Learn to eject the pelvic girdle forwards - forward bends not downwards bends. Observe what the length of the trunk is.
Parivrtta Trikonasana 1st attempt (menstruation parsvottonasana) short stay – can be done back to or facing the wall Are you getting the same length as parasarita paddotonasana?
Parivrrta Trikonasana 2nd attempt – To get the pelvic ejection, legs / buttocks have to remain FIRM. Back leg push from the front to the back, front leg no dead weight on the sole of the foot, keep the weight on the heel or spine hangs. Hand on the foot is okay to get a good rotation. Both the thighs away from each other, hips thin, STAMP the back heel and lengthen the pelvic girdle towards the head. Dorsal spine IN! ROTATE! ROTATE! ROTATE! Chest, stomach, abdomen TURN completely.
Uttanasana elbows folded and lengthen front and back of your trunk down.
Parivrtta Trikonasana 3rd attempt top hand on tall stool (or similar) Front pelvic girdle lengthening, but even in back body, entire spine from anus to skull has to extend. Back leg like chaturanga dandasana. From your anal mouth to the head, get a GOOOOD length! Learn to elongate the kidney area which we worked on in padangusta dandasana yesterday. It has to revolve towards the front, but it also has to have a length – it has to MOVE! Diaphragm extend towards the head, soften and rotate. Bottom breast away from the stomach, dorsal spine in, turn the waist.
It is not so important to merely stretch in your asanas – it’s more important to extend the muscles. The moment you mindfully extend the muscles rather than just turn casually, it is a different output. This mindful awareness is internal.
Parsvakonasana Pelvic girdle elongated towards the head, counter challenge by stamping the back heel. EJECT! ELONGATE! From the pelvic area – and remember – front body pubic to the sternum and back body move towards the sacrum.
Baddha Konasana – Yoga brings stamina, health etc - in the easy poses you can get away with a superficial involvement. To perform the adjustments in parivrtta trikonasana you had to have a deeper involvement – your mind, your intelligence, your unconscious mind had to be brought to the surface. To bring this conscious mind to the surface is such a big gift. We are so easily swayed by our outer, superficial mind – it easily gets dejected (casual comment or comparing ourselves unfavourably to others in the class). For the inner mind to come to the surface with confidence, to be able to mobilise that is such a great asset. Yoga gives confidence – clarity in thought and action – in life, this inner mind coming to the surface is extremely beneficial. This was Guruji’s teaching.
Parivrrta Parsvakonasana 1st Attempt Brief (menstruation ardha chandrasana).
Parivrrta Parsvakonasana 2nd attempt RS (option to repeat pariv trik or do kneeling with back knee on the floor if unable to rotate much). Having turned, dorsal spine in – don’t raise the back heel intentionally. Abdominal area, exhale and turn. Having turned find out can you exhale and give one stretch mindfully. STRETCH yourself, left pelvis to the left armpit. Anal mouth to the head. TURN!
LS Dorsal spine in, chest rotate, stomach rotate, abdomen rotate. Those of you who are unable to locate the pelvic girdle, it’s disappeared – no problem! Open the chest! Dorsal spine in, shoulder blade rotate. First get that comfort and thereafter go for that mindful extension. Pelvic to the armpit! Anal mouth to the head! Back leg FIRM! And rotate completely!
Baddha Konasana Different groups: Those who accomplished parivrrta parsvakonasana you were happy. Those who did not fall into 2 groups. You were either inspired or you gave up and became dejected. The moment you become dejected, the body becomes heavier and you don’t even want to try. Those of you who were really trying, you were focussed on the task in hand – any asana is a condensed form of what has to happen in life. It empties the mind of clutter if you are mindful in your approach, so you can focus on what you need without distraction. What else is citta vrtti nirodahah about? (Guruji has already said, if you are casual in your approach, the effects are casual). The ancient wisdom of yoga is relevant today! It is eternally an aid for us.
Next 3 poses to bring back the lightness because twisting often makes us a little heavy.
Ardha Chandrasana Keep top hand on tall stool (or similar) Bottom leg, front thigh to back thigh. Top leg FIRM! Front leg thigh to the buttock and pelvic girdle elongate to the armpit. Recollect your parivrrta upavista from yesterday and lengthen that right side of the trunk. Pelvic girdle cannot extend if top leg is heavy and dropping. Raise that top leg up to bring the lightness!
Janu Sirsasana RS Very quick attempt. What you did in your twisting posture, you gave a good length to your spinal column, from pubis to sternum you lengthened. Lengthen, slightly look up and further lengthen. Turn your chest, stomach abdomen from the right to the left. Hold the heel and lengthen the side ribs, side chest. Move it forward (repeatedly). Repeat LS
Upavista Konasana Be tall
Parsva Upavista Konasana Very quick attempt Find out where the stiffness comes – which part is not moving? Where is the side body becoming hard? Where the ribs are becoming thick?
Upavista Konasana Flexibility makes movement easier and decreases the chance of injury. Although stress is a psychological thing, there is a physical component to it. Stress creates stiffness in the body – the chemistry of stress will not work in its usual way if you keep your body flexible. Thankfully in Iyengar yoga we have many methods, many props so that even for older people, dynamic movement is possible.
Parsva Upavista Konasana (use chair if you can’t get down) RS Turn the left side of your back – those muscles are tight. Raise the chin up, dorsal spine in and TURN that left side of your back TURN! exhale TURN the abdomen 3 times 1! Turn and down 2! Turn and down 3! Turn and down. LS Raise the chest UP! abdomen TURN! RAISE the sides of the trunk. Those who have movement on your side, can you rotate EXTRA to break the stiffness. Rotate extra and turn your head to face the wall behind you. Extra Parivrtta! More than classical! Forward, forward, forward and then come to the classical asana.
Upavista Konasana When you reach a point that is beyond your normal threshold, there is a sense of satisfaction which comes. The moment you attain these asanas – this positivity, this lightness which is coming brings a lightness in the mind. When mind is down, body is also down. When mind is elated, body is elated. The technology of asanas and pranayama Is that through tapas and svadhaya we have the means to go to isvara pranidhana. The hard work of the parsva upavista konasana (for example) is the means for you to get that AHA! moment, that positivity in your mind, the spring in your step for you to do what needs to be done. If you are sad and morose, how are you going to contribute to anything? Understand the ripple effects that yoga can have.
Janu Sirsasana RS – (menstruation, don’t go for extra twisting, instead head on bolster) Extended leg wall side, bent leg away from the wall. Can you use the wall so that you can get a little extra rotation. Can you elongate the back like parivrrta trikonasna. Pressurise both the thighs down and first elevate – the flight has to take off first! Anal mouth to the head! Pelvic girdle UP! like parivrrta trikonasana so that there is that lightness to it. First turning to the wall and then extend forward over the leg but look beyond the foot, don’t take head down.
AMSvanasana Between janu sides
Janu Sirsasana LS Implement your parivrtta trikonasna instructions. Length! Thighs down! The flight has to take off! Lengthening and twisting to face the wall and having done that, come to the classical version without undoing your twisting of the back. Don’t take your head down – the moment the head goes down, you think the pose is done.
Paschimottonasana Those who find forward bends very difficult – sit on edge of chair – yoga is for everyone. Lengthen the side body down, move the bottom sternum forward.
Sirsasana (menstruation chair viparita dandasana, neck problem twists) Dorsal spine INTO the body, shoulders ascending upwards, shoulder blades LIFTED upwards, side body upwards. In sirsasana can you convert the legs to standing pose legs? Spread your legs a little apart, lengthen your inner legs, back legs, open your toes, open the arches of your feet – arches to the toes, arches to the heels extend, lift your inner leg to the inner heel and RAISING the inner legs up, bring the legs together. Two things simultaneously – take the legs apart again, groins to the inner heels stretch, simultaneously ASCENDING the legs, join them. You feel that lightness in the pose? find out if neck is a problem, is it because the legs become inactive and there is dead weight on the neck? Find out, is my 7th cervical concave? Move it INTO the body and up. Upper shoulder blades which are close to the neck, can they go up? Back of the knees widen, calf muscles lengthen. Buttocks into the body. Remember yesterday’s parighasana? What length you had in the side body there – can you bring that length in your side ribs in your sirsasana? Can all this be maintained? To attain is easy, to maintain is difficult – firmness, lightness, length. Come down gracefully – the legs should not drop heavily – come down respectfully.
‘Tapas svadhyaya Isvarapranidhanani kriyayogah’
All these three together constitute kriya yoga. No one superior to the other. Each is reliant on the other.
Adho Mukha Virasana Hands can be a little wider, you can bend the arms if it helps to release shoulder / neck pressure.
Brick setubandha sarvangasana (if menstruation is normal, can do brick setubandha too) To educate us for sarvangasana. Interlock your fingers beyond the brick, pull the arms back. Shoulder blades LIFT up because I want that to be mobilised in your sarvangasana. Dorsal spine in to the body. Inner legs long. Back ribs IN to the body. Elongate the back and sides of your neck. In sarvangasana which area causes pain? That area close to the neck LIFT it up. Bring the sharpness, lightness and concavity. Roll the thighs and let the outer thighs facing upwards so that dead weight doesn’t not fall on the brick. Circularise your thighs. The upper back body has to come to support your chest. Shoulders towards the feet, but let the upper back come to embrace your chest and remember this feeling of the body.
Sarvangasana Confidence is about being comfortable with yourself. In sarvangasana (or in any asana) the practice makes us comfortable with ourselves. As an example, work on all the surfaces the legs (front, back, inner, outer etc). How we educated the body in brick setubandha – bring that into your sarvangasana – dorsal spine, concavity, shoulder blade, buttocks into the body, legs extended, length of the neck, eyes towards the chest, ears down, throat down. One minute of silence for you to be with yourself.
If there is pain, address that situation – what must be done to alleviate that pain. Just physical training will not give stamina. That’s why the various asanas work on that inner shakti, inner force. Endurance is not only about the body (Surya namaskar, AMVrksasana etc) it is about the mind – initially all actions are done with physical strength and power – but then there is the mind and then the will. So make up your mind to be in that sarvangasana.
Paschimottonasana to release any soreness of the back.
Bharadvajasana 1 x 2 Root of the thighs down and recollect that parivrrta trikonasana – length of the spine, tall front body pubis to sternum and back body release down, have that circular action. On second repeat legs to left, turning to right, in order to release the neck 1) Look over the left shoulder, lengthen the sides of the neck, shoulder blades in 2) Look over the centre chest, take the dorsal in and arch, trapezius down, look up 3) turn the neck to look over the right shoulder. Other side (legs to right, turning to left) First turn to the open side, then neck to the centre and concave back, then the other side turn.
Savasana Don’t go for any impositions on the breath – let it be involuntary. Let the body take its own time to come back to normalcy. Initially the abdomen will be moving up and down, don’t try to control that now. After some time, the body normally comes to a rhythm where those oscillations do not happen – you have to give it time. Let go.