This session starts in a more dynamic way after first lying back over blocks in Supta Virasana or Supta Baddha Konasana. Come up for Uttanasana, and then do 6-8 repetitions of Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dog Pose) on the breath. Set up for Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Full Arm Balance) or alternative, and then Pincha Mayurasana (Elbow Balance) to increase mental energy, and open the shoulders.
Now we go through 4 repetitions of Tadasana, stepping to Uttanasana, to Adho Mukha Svanasana and back. Find a rhythm and notice how this can start to increase your motivation in the practice as well. From Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) step forward to Trikonasana, both sides; then to Virabhadrasana 1, both sides; Parsvottanasana, both sides, with the hands to the floor or shin, and then turn for Prasarita Padottanasana.
Prepare now for a straight 5 minute Sirsasana, or use the alternative of lying back over two blocks at varying heights.
We now come to the backbends, doing some foundation backbend poses, twice each: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward facing Dog) two times, and then taking two blocks to help get extra freedom in the arms and shoulders in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
Go to Bhujangasana, while keeping your thighs down on the floor, see how this changes the way the dorsal spine opens. Salabhasana (Locust Pose) emphasises the back of the leg opening and the lift of the upper trunk and legs against gravity. This upward lift while prone creates a certain resistance that helps to strengthen the lateral spinal muscles and emphasise where to anchor and where to lift.
Dhanurasana continues the work with that same resistance, this time lifting bent legs higher from the floor and, as the hands are holding the ankles, the shoulders get drawn further backwards.
Come up for Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Today see what happens when you use a block, lengthways, between the thighs. This will give a reference point for the work of the inner thighs, helping to maintain a good base in the legs to support the spinal arch. Remove the block and see if you can still feel the “imprint” of the block as you curve back.
Chatushpadasana, a few times on the breath, and then holding two times. Now we are face-up, but the pull of gravity is still strong, and holding the ankles intensifies the resistance.
Urdhva Dhanurasana from the floor, with two or more blocks for the hands. See how far you can lift up, extending the arms fully to connect the arms to the waist, keeping the weight onto the feet.
Five times. Don’t give up. The lift will come with practice, and it comes more readily the more you practise it.
Coming back to neutral: Uttanasana, Parsva Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana X 2, and Supta Padangusthasana 1 and 2, the belt on the lifted heel and blocks at the sides of the hips for the second variation.
Prepare for supported Halasana (blankets or supports for the and upper arms shoulders, and a chair to rest the whole front thigh on. The alternative here is to go to “legs up the wall”, using folded blankets for support.
Illustrated sequence of video
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