This session brings forward bending into focus. Here you will go through some standing and seated forward bends, learning the important actions required to explore your limits when you extend forward.
Start off in Supta Baddha Konasana, placing the balls of the feet up against the wall, the buttocks close to the heels. Lie back with a folded blanket along the spine and under the head to open the chest.
Come up and move into Virasana Forward, knees apart and extend your arms. This is an accessible forward bend which is useful to start off with. It shows how to keep the legs descending as you extend the front of the body. This will be a theme throughout the session.
Stand up, near a wall, and go to Uttanasana, a standing forward bend. Placing the feet hip-width apart, about a foot or more away from the wall, lean forwards, taking the buttocks up the wall and the hands to the floor or onto the shins. Front body long, knees straight.
Now go to Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dog pose) with the heels up the wall. Keep the knees and elbows straight and increase the lift of the hips.
Headstand preparation follows. This is not taking you into headstand, but it brings us towards full inversions and it teaches us to gain confidence and clarity in the arms as we raise the hips and shoulders up.
Come up to standing and get your chair.
Parsvottanasana, a standing forward bend. Place your chair one leg length away from the wall, on your mat. Place the Left heel to the wall, step the Right foot one leg length in front, and turn the hips towards the chair. Now extend the arms forward, front chest long, and place your hands onto the backrest of the chair. Keep the hips even and the front body extending. Change legs.
Prasarita Padottanasna. Put your chair to one side and stand on your mat with your feet very wide apart. Taking your hands onto your hips, roll the shoulders back, and bending at the hips extend the body forwards. Place the hands on the floor or onto your shins. Feel the depth that comes into the front thigh crease.
Come to sitting, with the chair within reach.
Sit in Virasana (Hero Pose) using a folded towel for extra support under the buttocks to allow the knees to bend and the spine to lift up with ease. Take more height if this is strong on your knees.
Extend the legs forward into Dandasana (Rod or Staff Pose) and prepare for Triangmukaikapada Paschimottanasana. Extend your Left leg forward and bend your Right leg into Virasana. Extend the arms up and, bending forward from the hips, place your hands onto the chair seat or chair arms. Keep the front chest long and the legs anchored down. Change sides.
Janu Sirsasana, a forward bend with a small twist. Extend your Left leg forwards, and bend the Right knee out to the side. Place the Right heel up against the inner Right thigh, the sole of the foot turning a bit upwards. If the knee feels tight or restricted, sit on extra height and release the knee towards the floor.
Take the Right arm up and lift and then turn towards the Left leg, and place your Right hand onto the chair seat. Then place the Left hand up onto the chair seat. Maintain the length in the trunk with both hips and chest facing forward. Change.
Paschimottanasana. Extend both legs forward, feet hip-width apart. Keep the heels extending and the backs of the knees coming down onto or towards the floor. Extend the arms up and reach the front body forward, placing the hands onto the chair seat. Keep the front of the body long, knees and thighs pressing down towards the floor.
Upavisthakonasana, wide-legged seated pose. Here watch for the inner groins that want to turn upwards. If you find it hard to sit straight keeping the inner knees and groins down, place a folded towel under the buttocks. Place the hands onto the chair seat and lengthen upwards and then forwards, to capacity.
Baddhakonasana (Cobbler’s Pose). Place a folded towel under the buttocks and bring the heels close to the body. Place your hands behind you and turn your fingers to point backwards. Now lift the trunk up and notice how the more you lift the spine the more the knees go down.
Two seated twists come next. Simple crosslegs twist, turning first to the Right and then to the Left. Change to cross of the legs and repeat.
Bharadvajasana. Place the feet to the Left of the hips, knees facing straight forward. Put a folded towel under the Right hip to help keep the hips balanced. Turn to the Right and then change sides to turn to the Left.
Now go to the wall and lie on your back and bring the legs to 90 degrees, close to the wall. This helps to release tension from the legs and to allow the hamstrings to learn to let go. This is helped by the spine being supported by the floor. Then take the heels down towards the pelvis in Baddhakonasana. Here the hips will open and the knees extend outwards more easily by using the support for the back given by the floor.
Now spread the legs wide to Upavisthakonasana. To finish, bring the knees down toward the chest and observe how the lower back gets released and lengthened.
Turn to the Right side, and go forward into Virasana. Take 6-10 breaths here to round the session off with a feeling of quietness.