In this class, our aim is to find out how we can generate the energy and chest-opening benefits of backbends in a relatively short time frame.
Come up and go to forward Virasana.
Put your equipment to one side and go directly to Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dogpose).
Do a round of 6-8 times going from Adho Mukha Svanasana to forward Virasana and back to Adho Mukha Svanasana, synchronising the movement with the breath.
Go to a wall and, placing the feet one foot or so away from the wall, feet hip-width apart, bend the knees to go to Utkatasana, keeping the back pelvis against the wall. Feel how the lower abdominal area gets connected to the back of the pelvis.
Now step up the wall in Half Full Arm Balance, legs parallel to the floor, knees straight. Press the feet firmly into the wall, elbows straight.
Step down and go to Uttanasana.
Turn and, placing the hands down a little away from the wall, go up to Full Arm Balance. If you are not ready for this, repeat the walking up the wall preparation.
Prepare now for Pincha Mayurasana. For this session see if you can manage without the block, using just a little wall support for the inner index fingers to help stop the hands from scissoring in. Go up and press firmly into the mid-forearm to lift the shoulders up.
Rest in Forward Virasana.
Sirasana, Headbalance. Those who are familiar with the pose, go straight up to Sirsasana. If doing the preparation, first interlock your fingers, place the heels up the wall and with head off the ground raise the buttocks up. Hold for a minute.
Come down, take a block and go to another Headstand preparation, this time placing the block into your middle/upper thoracic to keep the lift in the spine and the backribs coming forward towards the front chest.
Everyone come down into forward Virasana.
Come up to stand in Tadasana, towards the front of your mat, about a foot or more from the front edge.
Then do one more round to step back into Adho Mukha Svanasana and this time go forward into
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing Dogpose) with the toes tucked under.
Back to Adho Mukha Svanasana and forward to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, toes and metatarsils extending back.
Then lie down prone on the floor and place your hands by the sides of the waist. Come up to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana from the floor. Lift the legs well, knees straight and drawing up towards the ceiling, chest forward.
Release down and bend your knees for Dhanurasana. Hold the ankles and raise the chest and thighs up, making a bow shape with your back. Feel the back ribs open forward.
Now come to kneeling for Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Come up onto your shins and knees, turn your palms forward and go back and forth in a rocking action 4-5 times. Feel how the legs need to work to hold your trunk. Then swing your hands back onto your heels and press the buttocks forward, hips over the knees and arch backwards. If your hands don’t reach your heels, place a bolster over the heels and bring your hands to the bolster. Come up, hips first, then chest, then head.
Ustrasana again. This time take your hands to the backs of the thighs and start to coil the shoulders back. Keep your head in line with your chest. Press the hips forward and see if you can bring your back ribs parallel to the floor.
Come up and sit on your heels for a few breaths.
Now lie on your back and bend your knees.
Chatushpadasana. Place your hands, palms up, near your heels and on the exhalation raise the buttocks up and then down, 8-10 times.
For the last attempt, place your hands under your heels and raise the buttocks up and hold for a few breaths.
Prepare for Urdhva Dhanurasana X 6. Place 2 bricks against the wall with a space in between for your head. Lie back, knees bent. Place your hands on the bricks and exhale up to Urdhva Dhanurasana. Go more quickly, not holding more than a few breaths up, and just one or two breaths on the floor in between. Take a few breaths lying on your back, knees bent, after the last backbend, and then roll to the side to come to Uttanasana with a block between the upper thighs. Let the back release here for a minute, and then if your back feels ready, hold your elbows and let the weight of the body release the back muscles more.
Parsva Uttanasana, first to the R and then the L, repeating a second time.
Adho Mukha Svanasana, with the block.
Release down to Virasana forward, with the block on its side under the front trunk, between the navel and sternum.
Adho Mukha Svanasana a second time. Release down to Virasana forward.
Set up for legs up the wall with a bolster and a half-folded blanket for under the pelvis.
Fold your bolster so that about 1/2 or 2/3 of the bolster is flat on the floor, the other 1/3 up against the wall.
Place the folded blanket over the flat part, and sit on the bolster, roll the shoulders back onto the floor, legs up the wall at about a 70-degree angle. Place a blanket under the head and neck.
Stay for 3-4 minutes until the eyes and breath feel quiet.
Bend the legs to simple cross-legs for another minute, then slide the buttocks back onto the floor and change the cross of the legs.
Do Savasana here, for another 3-4 minutes. Let the eyes soften, and the breath come to a quiet soft breath.