We will be looking at some standing poses to the wall today. Wall support shouldn’t be viewed solely as a means of adding comfort to our practice, but also as a way of informing us about the more subtle aspects of the pose.
Starting off in Supta Virasana, we will add extra height in the form of a bolster or two blankets as a way of energizing the body and preparing us for the practice ahead. If necessary, you can also add some height under the buttocks if you feel discomfort in your lower back or knees. You can also lie down in Supta Baddha Konasana if your knees aren’t in the best of conditions.
After allowing ourselves to settle down in this supine position, we will move on to the warm-up stage of the class. Come into Forward Virasana to extend the spine before standing up for Uttanasana. In this first standing forward bend, we will have a chance to adjust the way we spread our weight in our feet.
We will go through a few cycles of Virasana Forward into Adho Mukha Svanasana to warm up the shoulders ahead of going into Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) and Pincha Mayurasana. The inversions will give us a chance to practice spreading and balancing our weight through different parts of the body. We started with the feet in Uttanasana; now we’re doing the hands and the forearms.
Now, moving onto the standing section of the class. Placing the mat perpendicularly against the wall, we will go through our first standing pose sequence in which we will be pressing our front foot against the wall. Make sure that, as you perform these poses, you place your feet a little further apart than usual. This way, you will not only get more of a stretch, but you will also make sure you’re not jammed against the wall.
Start with Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 with the raised foot pressed flat into the wall. Then comes Utthita Trikonasana with the ball of the foot and fingertips to the wall: push against the wall to help yourself extent upwards. The rest of the sequence will go as follows: Utthita Parsvakonasana, Virabhadrasana 1 with the fingers to the wall, Virabhadrasana 2, and finally, to finish off, Uttanasana with the buttocks pressed against the wall, the legs drawing up into the pelvis.
For the second section of the standing sequence, bring the mat up to the wall horizontally. We will experiment a little bit with perspective in this part of the class: some poses will be done with us facing the wall while the others will be done with our backs to the wall. As you do these poses, see what the change in perspective brings, notice how it adds a sort of “freshness” to the pose. The main thing to take away from this experiment is that there is no one single way to do a pose. Our choice should depend on how balanced we feel on any given occasion, on what our aims for our practice are, on how much we are willing to challenge ourselves. Wall support can be very useful to those of us who struggle with weight-bearing — use the wall to teach you.
We start with Ardha Chandrasana facing the wall, then move on to Virabhadrasana 3. We will finish this section with two twisted standing poses: Parivritta Trikonasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana, alternating our position in relation to the wall.
Then, to cool down, we will bring the mat back to the center, placing it perpendicularly to the wall, and do some calming standing forward bends: Parsvottanasana and Prasarita Padottanasana with one foot to the wall.
The last part of the class will include some inversions: we will be introducing a new way of performing Salamba Sirsasana (you will need a corner to help you with this exercise) and will need a chair for when we do Salamba Sarvangasana and Viparita Karani. For those not going into the full inversions, we have included some variations: for those with stiffness in the neck or shoulders or for those who are menstruating.
Finally, we will lie down for Savasana as our final relaxation, giving us a chance to soften and reflect on the benefits of the practice.