A good day off of classes on Sunday, Caren and I went exploring and when we grew weary stopped for some respite at the Mariott Hotel cafe, where - oh joy! - I was able to get an almond milk hot chocolate (friends and family will know how this made my day!). We walked the back route up to the Marriott where we founds pigs snuffling around and a game of cricket which we were enthusiastically beckoned to join in with! Lots of people out on the streets and lots of friendly interactions.
I continued to help in the medical classes today - it's going to be a long time before I get a handle on how things are done here, but I'll just keep sticking with it. It's hard to feel you are a burden to the very people you are trying to assist, as initially everything has to be explained and I'm making lots of errors. Humbling.
Rajalaxmi's Intermediate 2 class was immediately after the medical and I wasn't sure I was going to have enough oomph left to manage it, as I hadn't eaten since late breakfast and medical class is also quite tiring, but once we got going it was fine. It was a gruelling, sweaty long sirsasana with variations - it's particularly hard to hold a long urdhva dandasana (see pic) and then go back up to sirsasana again, which we did twice - it is gratifying though to feel how all this work is strengthening me as it's so rare to work so intensively back home. I could hear the involuntary breath expressions all around me as we were held to our limit. Last time I was here I wasn't even up in the centre of the room in sirsasana after a prolonged 4 year stint back at the wall to realign my pose, so this is real progress. All the poses in the sequence below, done thoroughly and held for long durations.
Rajalaxmi – February 10th 2020 – Forward Bends
Swastikasana for invocation. Fingers cup shaped to raise up. Armpit chest forward and upward, shoulders backward and downward. As if you have two eyes on upper chest and those two eyes have to look up towards the ceiling. There is a small area between the buttock bones and the tops of the thighs and that area you have to open up – move the buttock bones back – and learn to sit on that area, not on the buttock bones. Where body ends and thighs begin, that area. Spread the spine, the right to the right side, the left to the left side
The next three poses repeated twice on each side. Thorough, long holds and working intensely in each of the positions.
AMSwastikasana – Let the buttock bones lift up so that weight rolls onto the shin bones, to get the freedom of the side trunk to come forward. And then extend the sides of the trunk back, keeping the length you have created in the forward direction also. Stretch back to where the body ends and the thighs begin. The armpits have to travel forwards, otherwise the upper spine rounds towards the ceiling.
Parsva AM Swastikasana (both sides) keeping equal length in the sides of the trunk into Parivrtta AM Swastikasana – – let the left buttock come up off the floor completely to get the turn, lift and turn so that you go beyond the knee and you are extending over the thigh itself, can you lift the body up to turn the abdomen, so that left rib has to roll completely down and come level with the right rib, left armpit has to go down, use the left shoulder blade to push the left armpit down. Then back to AMSwastikasana (other side and then) move the spine into the body to come up.
Swastikasana seated twist – here she showed how the turn was improved by lifting the left hip and buttock flesh UP to turn the body to the right side. Also, not to keep the legs too tightly crossed as this will make the turn less. Lean slightly forward over the knee, push the spine into you and then maintaining the spine in and up, turn further and further. Here she demonstrated how for some people the left shoulder was coming forward when they turned to the right. The left shoulder has to stay back in line with the right, so that the shoulders make an X shape over the legs (diagonally bisect the legs).
AMSvanasana (long stay intense work) – Work especially the tops of the thighs as of the ropes were kept there. What happens to the knees when you take the front thighs back? Back thigh spreads from inner to outer and this broadens the back knee and enables you to lengthen the calf muscle downward. Do not let the body weight fall towards the arms, push back there and take the trunk towards the legs.
Walk back to Uttanasana – Now take your hands to the area between the top thigh and the buttock bone and use your hands to lift and open that area. She demonstrated to show how lifting that area with her hands, enabled her trunk to flow much more freely downward.
Ardha Uttanasana – take the back ribs into you, armpits forward, ribs and side chest forwards – catch the big toes Padangusthasana – hold the big toes and go down.
Here she called us up to look at a demo. How the arms have to widen to the side and not to collapse the wrists towards the floor. WRISTS HAVE TO MOVE INTO THE WRISTS to go down and elbows widen, widen, widen. Repeat Padangusthasana.
Pada Hastasana – Walk onto your wrist so that it broadens. Fingers and palms spread under the feet. Now maintain that broadness of the wrist and descend down. Wrist moving into the wrist to go down.
Paschimottonasana – move the buttock bones back and feel the tops of the back thigh press into the floor. Hold the sides of the feet and lift up, move the bottom back rib into you. Now go forward from the tops of your thighs – move your spine into you to go forward.
Sirsasana (long intense sequence) – First get your place and then stand in tadasana with the hands clasped behind and move your spine into you (rolling the shoulders back and down and taking the dorsal spine into the body). Urdhva Hastasana – Do not push the front ribs forward but spread them to the sides. Quite long hold in urdhva hastasana. Sirsasana - Stretch the legs up and move the buttock bones IN to take the legs BACK. Front of the thigh back, to spread the back of the thigh. Maintain that action and come to Urdhva Dandasana and find out how the spine extends. Extend from the arch to heel and from the arch to the toes to open the soles of the feet, draw the frontal thighs in and extend the backs of the legs away. Back up to Sirsasana - Eka Pada Sirsasana – bring the right leg forward and see that the outer thigh / outer hip doesn’t drop towards the floor. Lift the outer thigh up. Can you touch the floor? Touch and come up. Parsvaikapada Sirsasana - Eka Pada Sirsasana repeat and then swing the leg out to the side to parsva eka pada position. Come back to the centre and raise the leg up to sirsasana - Parsva Sirsasana ‘lift and turn!’– Sirsasana – Urdhva Dandasana – Sirsasana.
AMVrksasana Trunk higher up!
Dandasana Legs hip width, sit on tops of thighs, not buttock bones.
Paschimottonasana- move from the back spine to go forwards.
Akarna Dhanurasana Prep on right side – Pick up the foot and bring the knee backwards and forwards several times, swing the leg don’t swing the body and keep the back waist well lifted. Long time repeating this and then on the same right side Marichyasana 1, entwine the arm around the shin catching the wrist behind and go forward. Here she got us to come up and look. The bent marichyasana knee has to go forward with you, let that buttock bone lift and push the marichyasana knee into the armpit to push you forward (this brought my forehead to the leg). ‘Side trunk has to move forward!!’.
Repeat Akarna Dhanurasana prep on right side. Then whole sequence on the left.
Akarna Dhanurasana 1 – Take a belt for the extended left leg foot and hold with the left hand. Catch the right big toe and raise the right leg and draw it back as the archer draws the bow. Keep your eyes looking forward in the direction you are shooting the arrow. Keep your back waist lifted. Repeat left side.
Paschimottonasana – and find out how the side trunk moves forward.
Trianga Mukha Eka Pada Paschimottonasana – If you need the blanket take it, but only support the buttock bone on the side that drops.
Krounchasana First concave back, extend your trunk up and move your back rib into you, become tall in the trunk. Now pull the leg towards you, spread the elbows to the side – forward bends start from the lower back so from there lift up, extend the spine and move the trunk forward as if you were going to take your chin to your shin. Move the forearm into the forearm. We looked at the picture of Guruji in krounchasana – how long and open the back of the leg was and how his abdomen lengthened along his thigh. We then took this work into the second side. She spoke about how in all his seated forward bends, his extension was more focussed on the sides of the trunk that the spine.
Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottonasana Catch the big toe (or use the belt) and spread the sternum bone to the front, open the front of the body up and then lift up to go forwards.
Marichyasana 1 Forward bend clasping - Wrap the arm and clasp, lift the back waist up and push the bent leg knee down into the back of the shoulder / back armpit to propel the body forward.
Janu Sirsasana – Concave back, elbows to the side and extend forward. Deltoids should move away from the sides of the neck.
Paschimottonasana - she came and adjusted me here, not to catch so far along the wrist so that I could make much more space between deltoid and neck – when you get that space in the deltoids, top chest broadens, diaphragm broadens and breath flows more easily making your stay in the pose more pleasant.
Now there only (so no extra equipment – I put a blanket on the end of the thick mat so that my head was on the floor and I had a tiny raise under the shoulders) Sarvangasana dropping back into setubandha (for those that could not do, chatushpadasana) Hands supporting the back chest, move spine into you, tailbone high up, extend your lumbar to come down.