The day started with pranayama at sunrise on the terrace as the birds and the city clattered to life all around me. The air is a little on the chilly side first thing, as it is 'winter' here and Joney had his woolly hat on as he sat on the wall selling his wares. Morning class for me today with Abhijata and it was, as usual, brilliant. We started with a lecture for the newcomers - don't answer the door to strangers, don't feed the stray dogs etc Then we moved into different ways of performing tadasana; supine, prone, lying on the side body and then repeating tadasana to see how it had improved. We explored links between different poses - ardha uttanasana and urdhva prasarita padasana and how one informs the other. Supta Padangusthasana 2 and ardha chandrasana. Here she felt that we had become sleepy and disengaged, so she launched into the most random jumping sequence I've ever done! Morning brains all around struggling to comprehend what the named pose was and how were going to get from where we were, to where we needed to be, all at lightening speed. I love this type of work as it exactly suits my brain and I usually find it razor sharp, but even I struggled to wrap my head around such a diverse and unpredictable sequence quickly enough. Great fun (see below).
I spent the afternoon writing up notes in the sunshine and at 6 I assisted in my first medical class. I have taken Stephanie Quirk's course and assisted my teacher Lynda in therapy class for many years, so I was approved to help, but here much is different and I was more than a little daunted. I lived to tell the tale (though I'm not sure I would have been brave enough if the formidable Geetaji had still presided over proceedings). Hope you enjoy the class sequence, we all did!
Abhijata - February 5th 2020 - Hip work
While we received the welcome lecture, Padmasana and Baddha Konasana.
Invocation in Padmasana. Inhale along the length of the anterior spine as if the inhalation is unfolding you there.
Upavista Konasana – Tiredness is not the only effect of jet lag, also the body shrinks, the muscles lose their length, so begin by extending the backs of the legs and opening there so that patella can find its proper place. Lift up and open and extend the legs away from (was it from the back outer corners of the thighs?)
Supta tadasana properly adjust the trapezius to draw under. Join the feet and extend the inner edges of the feet away from you. Inner edge of the thigh press down, centre band of the thigh press down, outer edge of the thigh press down. Seek out the contact of the floor with every part of the thigh and extend the inner legs away.
Prone tadasana (a little like chaturanga dandasana except pubis, abdomen, torso is down on the floor) Tuck toes under, press the tips of the toes into the floor and press the legs upward. Kneecap fully into the leg and lift your back thighs, lift your back thighs LIFT. Inner edge, centre and outer edge LIFT.
Prone tadasana, now on the metatarsels. Press the tops of the feet down to lift the frontal thighs up into the leg and lift and spread the back thigh.
Tadasana on the side body – Anantasana without raising the leg. The buttocks should not drop back, move them, suck them into you and at the same time abdomen should move towards the ribs, navel should move towards the ribs. Don’t push the head forward, remain open in the chest, shoulder blades into the body and grip the legs together.
Tadasana – improved?
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana frontal groins downwards – what happened?? – when we moved the frontal groins downward we could feel more of the sacrum release to the floor. Therapy teachers this is important action when you are treating back problem – frontal groins have to move downward to bring that release in the back.
Now take belt and observe difference between placing belt on toe mounds, arch and heel. We all like it when a teacher brings us a new point, something new for us to learn and observe, but we need to become that teacher! We need to observe in our own bodies. My observation was belt around toes brought about a refinement of the muscles, they felt longer and leaner and gripped the bone better. Belt around heels brought a more bony connection, I could feel connection between heel bone and thigh bone which dropped down more. Belt around the arch was somewhere between the two. I do not know if that was what she intended for us to observe.
Ardha Uttanasana (menstruation only to the ledge) extending arms forward half way. Now can you find that groin lift? (now it’s a lift, in the case of Urdhva Prasarita Padasana it was a descent, in both cases the groins are drawing away from the knees) What happened? The lumbar / sacrum filled out.
Supta Padangusthasana 1
Vira 3 – Arms extending back as there was not enough space to extend them forwards. Groins action, inner leg extension.
Supta Padangusthasana 2 on right side – Looped belt around the right foot. When the leg goes to the side, today only at 90 degrees NOT coming high up towards the shoulder. Now as you take the leg to the side, the outer edge of the thigh muscle has to draw back into the hip socket. Can you get that drawing? When you draw the muscle in, can you also feel how that draws the bone itself deeper in? And the heel of the down leg extend away, press the top thigh downward. Bend the right leg slightly, now rolling the knee down, fix the back thigh towards the hips socket, pull it in there and maintaining that connection carefully straighten the leg. Now bend the left leg slightly and with the left leg bent move the abdomen towards the ribs and maintain this action as you extend the heel away to straighten the leg. Now both legs slightly bent. Can you make both adjustments simultaneously? A few times do. Make that feeling clearer and clearer. Now jump up for
Ardha Chandrasana standing on right leg. Bend right leg and rolling the knee back make same action as supta padangusthasana 2 to straighten the leg. Straighten only with that back thigh sucking deep upward, several times repeating and refining. Now the leg that is up, is the leg that was down in supta padang 2 right? So what was the action there? Slightly bend the knee and draw the abdomen towards the chest and then stretch the heel away. Repeat each action several times, got it??
Here despite our assertions that we had indeed ‘got it’ she was not happy “Why do you look so tired?? Huh??” FULL ARM BALANCE, GO!! 2nd leg kick up GO!! Now take the feet off the wall and for a moment balance. Sequence was AMVrksasana – Uttanasana -Urdhva Namaskarasana - Urdhva Prasarita Padasana - Paschimottonasana – Urdhva Hasta Dandasana – Paschimottonasana – Navasana – Paschimottonasana – Uttanasana -Urdhva Namaskarasana – Paschima Namaskarasana and look up – urdhva dandasana (that’s headstand going up with 2 legs and holding half way for those that are uninitiated) – Ardha Sirsasana (that’s half headstand, feet on the floor, back well lifted, spine concave) – Sirsasana - Urdhva Dandasana – Urdhva Hasta Dandasana – Paschimottonasana - Is it so easy to make you happy?? See now how everyone is smiling?? A few random poses thrown together and you are all happy. Understand that Guruji said that when we do the rapid jumpings there can be no deeper penetration into the poses. If you need to do jumpings or you get bored, if you were bored by the subject matter before, then you are not really into Iyengar Yoga. Iyengar Yoga involves penetrating deeper into the poses. Yes, jumpings have their place, but if that is all you want to do, then that is not Iyengar Yoga!
Supta Padangusthasana 2 left side, teaching points as before.
Ardha Chandrasana left side, teaching points as before.
Now Anantasana can you see this is the same pose, different orientation? 2 for the price of 1? – which leg will be up if we started ardha chandrasana standing on the right leg? In anantasana which leg is equivalent to the ardha chandrasana standing leg? It is the leg that is up in the air, right? (do it if you’re not sure). So, lie down on left side for anantasana. Hold the big toe, now keep the knee slightly bent so that you can suck that thigh inside and keeping the thigh tight, extend the leg straight upward. Now what was the work of the down leg? Extend the heel, extend the inner leg away, now make the abdomen adjustment. Don’t bring the head towards the chest, chest open, eyes in the eye level.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Repeating Anantasana lying on right side, raising left leg up.
UH Padangusthasana 2 right leg balancing – The right leg is like the standing leg in ardha chandrasana. Go to the wall if you are unable to act on the teaching points because of fear of falling. Hold the big toe and then take the extended leg back and deeply suck the back thigh into the socket. Can you make that grip there? Chest lifted, eyes in the eye level. Both sides.
AMSvanasana Vasthisthasana – Balance on the left leg, left hand – right leg is the ardha chandrasana standing leg. Hold the big toe, take the leg back, work on that back thigh suction. Head back, chest open, eyes in the eye level. Can you see how all the instructions are the same? Not 2 for the price of 1, 5 for the price of 1! Here she had her assistants on the stage each take one of the poses so that we could see the commonality.
Now half the group go to the edge of the room and do vrksasana and standing ardha padmasana, working on that grip in the outer thigh and hip. The other half Eka Pada Koudinyasasna 2 (see pic). If you are not into the balancings, you can keep the down leg toes hooked on the floor. Seniors can take the support of the bolster under the torso.
Sirsasana parsvaikapada, be brave take the leg back “Now I want to see your fearlessness” one, two, three times swing that leg back! Unless that leg moves back the thigh bone cannot move inside! Now bend the right leg like vira 2 (when you are at home practicing this, do in front of the mirror, you are in for a surprise!!) Now in vira 2 move that leg back, move that knee back and draw the back thigh deep into the hip socket, once that is fixed there, extend the leg straight, to parsvaikapada sirsasana. Repeat both sides.
Little baddha konasana type action in sirasana, just bring the feet a little bit down and get that knee rotation (NOT actual baddha konasana, just a little way down) can you feel that work on the hips? Can you fully grip there? Now maintaining that hips grip, hips coming inside, straighten the legs up to classic sirsasana position. Now brain is probably telling you that it has had enough, it is time to come down? Maybe neck shoulders also, but find out what the legs are telling you. You know those types of snakes that coil around and around the body? As if you had that snake wrapped tightly around, constricting you firmly, GRIP and extend the legs completely together straight up! Can you feel that lightness / straightness / grip in the outer hips / outer thighs? The length of the inner leg?? Even though elsewhere is tired, can you feel that lightness that life?? Definitely yes. Rest in AMVirasana.
Seated Baddha Konasana – lift up and roll the thighs the knees back and sacrum lift up and move forward. A good baddha konasana is when the thighs and knees go backwards. Hip socket work.
Half Mulabhandasana – take height if you need, but if you are using a blanket or a bolster, sit on the narrow end and move it to the left side, so that the right buttock can descend down. Anyone knee pain? This means the bone is not moving into the socket and sit higher if you need. We used the hand between the heel and the pelvis to keep the heel from falling towards the body and the toes vertically under the heel.
Mulabhandasana or repeat half mulabhandasana if not possible.
Kandasana for those that would like to try (See pic) This is also hip rotation.
Halasana – supta konasana - Sarvangasana – Parsvaika pada and Vira 2 leg – now at least you can see your leg so that you can properly adjust. Make the right angle, move the knee back and draw the back thigh deeper inward, find that hip grip. Halasana