This session brings our focus to the back of the body (ribcage, back of the legs) and helps us experience how the legs connect to the hips to support the spine in backbends.
Set up for Supta Virasana with support, or if too strong for you sit upright in Virasana and take the arms to Parvatasana and Garudasana.
Move into Virasana forward.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) on the breath 6-8 times. Forward Virasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Forward Virasana. Synchronise the movements with the breath.
Then go to Adho Mukha Svanasana with heels up the wall and then slide the heels down to the floor. Feel the difference in the leg action, first with heels up and then when you take the heels down. Notice the anchoring of the legs back towards the wall.
Stay near the wall for Utkatasana, placing the feet hip-width apart and away from the wall, back sacrum to the wall. Hold that action when you bend your knees. Feel how the lower abdomen and lower pelvis connect.
Set up for Full Arm Balance, stepping up the wall first. Then go to the full pose or repeat walking up the wall. Hold the focus on the lower pelvis and lower abdomen connection here.
Go to Utkatasana with only the tailbone to the wall, shoulder blades and back away from the wall, and thumbs to the wall behind you.
Step away from the wall, and go to Utkatasana without support to feel the effects of the previous two times practised with wall support.
Step the feet wide for Prasarita Padottanasana, concave spine and head down to or towards the floor. Keep the four corners of the feet to the floor and observe how this helps to anchor you from the legs.
Sirsasana preparation with heels to the wall.
Then lie back over two T-shape blocks to open the chest with block support. This further brings our attention to the back of the body.
Now coming into backbends.
Adho Mukha Svanasana to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, first with the toes tucked under, and then onto the metatarsals, toes pointing backwards. Repeat with toes back a second time.
Lie on your front and prepare for Salabhasana. Salabhasana requires a deliberate focus on the back of the legs to keep that area broad and even.
Start taking one leg up at a time, then lift both legs, and finally both arms and legs together in the full pose. The more the legs and soles of the feet are kept open, the easier it is to get a good lift to the legs, still connected to the pelvis.
Set up for Dhanurasana.
At the first attempt, don’t hold the ankles but keep the feet together as you lift the thighs up, arms back like Salabhasana.
Then hold the ankles, toes pointing up towards the ceiling, and lift into full Dhanurasana. Follow the techniques given to get a further lift with less effort.
Come up and take a chair for Ustrasana.
Knees in front of the chair, facing out, and extend the arms back to open the upper back and shoulders.
Then lean further back, keeping the pelvis in line with the knees, and place the forearms onto the chair seat to get more opening in the upper back, with legs stable.
Now move away from the chair and go to the full Ustrasana, taking the hands back onto the heels, or to capacity. Open the back of the thighs, keep the little toes side of the feet down onto the floor and broaden the lower and mid thoracic area to support the head going back.
Chatushpadasana, repeating 4-5 times on the breath and then placing the hands under the feet, palms facing upwards. Then go to the full pose holding the ankles and feel how the shoulders and back ribs need to open more here. The back body is lifted and alert.
Take the chair for Urdhva Dhanurasana.
Place two blocks upright and slanting back to the wall.
Sit through the chair, and explore how far to come over the chair to help lift up into the pose. Hands onto the blocks. Repeat 2-3 X.
Repeat, or now come to the full Urdhva Dhanurasana, with the two blocks lying flat and up against the wall for your hands. 2-4 X Urdhva Dhanurasana.
Lying on your back, take a few breaths and then come up for half Uttanasana, hands placed onto the backrest of the chair.
Then resting Uttanasana, folding the arms and resting the forehead onto the chair seat.
Adho Mukha Svanasana from the floor.
Supta Padangusthasana 1 to release the lower back, integrating the legs into the pelvis.
To finish, place a bolster against the wall, half-folded so that roughly 2/3s of the bolster is on the floor, and 1/3 up the wall. Place a folded blanket on top of the horizontal section of the bolster and lie back, pelvis onto the horizontal part of the bolster, shoulders to the floor, and legs up the wall at about 70-80 degrees.
Bring the legs to simple cross legs, and then slide down to bring the buttocks onto the floor, and change the cross of the legs with the ankles resting onto the bolster.
Stay for a few minutes Savasana here.