Prashant & Sunita - February 14th & 15th 2020 - Pranayama and Inversions
Apologies for no blog post yesterday, there wasn't a great deal to write, so I thought I'd double up today - plus I had the very important business to attend to, of hanging fairy lights in my room to make it more cosy of an evening! Prashant's Pranayama did include a little 'doing' this week, there are a few impressions I came away with written below, from those times when I wasn't peacefully sleeping, mouth open, though hopefully neither dribbling nor snoring ....
Saturday mornings are now Sunita's class (I have finally been given a timetable which shows exactly who is teaching when). This week she went for an inversion's class, which was challenging and informative. Honestly, it was really great teaching and she took the time to make sure everyone in the room had understood the content, answering questions with good humour, patience and clarity, using demonstrations where necessary, so that we could visually see the point.
At one point during, what can only be described as a sirsasana marathon, we went for a variation of sirsasana on the rope, like an inverted tadasana (see pic below). Now since there were only 6 pairs of ropes and a pretty sizeable group, you can imagine how many rounds we had to do to get through everybody. I was one of the very last to get a place and after a short while she got those who had already taken their turn to go back up into classical sirsasana in the centre of the room, while the rest of us waited for our place. There followed one of the toughest sirsasana sequences I've ever done. The reason it was so very tough was we did a lot of variations, but hardest of all was a kind of virasana pindasana variation, where we had to go to parsva virasana and then fold the legs right the way down towards the opposite armpit. Boy, did that take some strength! and I was mindful of the group that had got their place so much earlier on the wall and had been up in sirsasana a loooong time already. Hard, hard work but isn't that what we're here for?
Caron and I spent the afternoon at the prop shop, stocking up on all things yoga to bring back for our respective studios - we were like kids in a sweetie shop! I am trying to find out whether it is possible to get a set of basic wooden halasana stools made with a hinge so that they can fold flat when not in use, as storage is tight at the studio. I think these would be a big winner all round as so many studios have storage issues, plus they'd be much easier to transport home. Watch this space.....
A long facetime with my 12 year old daughter back home, who I am missing powerfully, where we enjoyed comparing fairy lights in our respective bedrooms! Looking forward to a holiday during Easter break with her and she is now off to spend February half term with two of her sisters one studying at Imperial College London and the other Exeter, so that should take her mind off my absence. Getting up early for class at Gulnaz's studio (no Sunday off in this apartment!) so hopefully sleep
The Pickle Van came to Model Colony last night!
Saturday 15th February – Sunita – Inversions
Thanks to Kate for sharing notes with me!
Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
AMVrksasana x 2 – Sides of the body long!! Lift up there!! Neck problem lift your head and look up towards the chest and lift the whole body upward. Then head releasing down and see that absolutely no part of the shoulder falls towards the neck – lift up there!!
Pinca Mayurasana -Shoulders LIFT! Head back a little and lift it up so that the eyes look at the floor and climb the feet higher and higher. Inner forearm has to press!! And lift up!! Body should not drop down. Those waiting for the place, standing gomukhasana
Sirasana (rope group, spread the arms out wide to the sides) side chest elongate, heels and neck in one line. Spread the legs hip width to move the buttocks forward. She was not happy that this action was being done, so she got us to come down and asked us if we understood what was being asked. “So why are you not doing??”. She wondered perhaps it was because we are being the instruction to draw the groins down into you, which also must be done. She explained that she wanted to give the variations, but buttock leg action has to be understood before we can go for variations. She got someone to demonstrate how the buttocks have to get sucked in for the legs to go further backwards and we also looked at Guruji’s picture, which shows very clearly just how far the legs have to move back for the heels to be directly above the neck.
In order for us to learn the correct action, we went to the wall.
1) Wall - Interlocked fingers 3 inches away - “Buttocks IN, thighs roll IN, heels together and UPWARD. Stability of the body gives intellectual stability. Back ribs have to go IN if that doesn’t go, stability won’t come. Legs TIGHT, buttocks TIGHT. Mouth soft, tongue soft, don’t allow your facial skin to move toward the body”
2) Wall - Interlocked fingers touching the wall – “Shoulders well lifted, legs firm. Still the buttocks IN! Back ribs into the body! Lift! Lift! LIFT!”
3) Rope wall - Inverted tadasana on the rope, like a nirlambe sirsasana. You can’t stay for long in this variation. Top ropes you pull through the rings so that is half and half, double thickness (see pic) – “Now can you feel what is the alignment? Head back, roll, the shoulders back to the wall, outer corners of the shoulders touching the wall! and lift the armpit chest, legs well extended and buttocks lift up” could do rope wall paschimottonasana as you came down if you wished and then quickly go back to your sirsasana in the centre so that you can retain the imprint.
4) Sirsasana – classical pose in centre of the room. “Now can you feel, is it a different sirsasana? Buttock suction and heels back. Neck has to get lengthened, your shoulders UP, keep the legs together”
5) Eka Pada Sirsasana – the leg has to come forward by the buttock lengthening to the heel.
6) Parsva Eka Pada Sirsasana – “Everything has to be maintained! Tuck the buttock IN! IN! IN!”
7) Baddha Konasana Sirsasana
8) Upavista Sirsasana
9) Those able to do Padmasana in sirsasana, those not able virasana in sirsasana
10) Parsva Padmasana or Parsva Virasana – “Tuck buttock in, Rotate!!”
11) Parsva Pindasana or Parsva Virasana Pindasana x 2 with the knees folded down right the way to the opposite armpit “Twist and go down! Now take it closer! Down! Down! Down! Back will become slightly convex, go down!”
12) Parsva Sirsasana – “Rotate! Keep on Rotating! Go further!”
13) Parivrtta Eka Pada Sirsasana
Here she got us to come down as there had been some confusion between left and right side because you can’t see the legs and the body is inverted. She advised that sometimes as a teacher it is good to see that the students have got clear connection before the variation is taken, so get everyone to wriggle their right toes and then the left. Clear perception of left and right before the turn begins.
14) Next she showed a version of Sirsasana for neck problem – take the rope as if for shoulder jacket (under the armpits, over the head so as to create a ‘pull’ on the trapezius and shoulders downwards) and then a belt looped through this which helper ties through the mid-level rope hooks, once student is kneeling ready to go up in sirsasana. When student goes up, belt can be tightened further to create the desired upward lift. No pressure in neck / head at all was reported by the student.
Paschimottonasana – while others find their place
Sarvangasana – Tuck your buttock in – you find out where / how you have to move to get the buttock IN. Inversions relates to the position of the head and chest are (relative to each other). How they create a cooling effect on the brain – this is because the Chandra region (head) is below the surya region. This is why Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana is given, like an inversion, in place of sirsasana and setubandha sarvangasana in place of sarvangasana some that some of that cooling effect can be experienced by those who are not doing inversions, such as during menstruation.
Eka Pada Sarvangasana with right big toe to the floor and left leg straight upward – Watch when the right leg comes down, how the left side of the back body remains concave in sarvangasana, but there is a certain point where the right side becomes convex. Can you observe as the leg comes down, exactly where that convexity begins? You have to catch that action.
Keep some time in between the sides – this pause has to be given – body / muscles have to come to a stable state before second side is taken.
Parsvaikapada Sarvangasana – can you feel how this affects the skin, the muscles, the organic body.
Parsva Halasana Right side – See that the left elbow does not come up. Can you feel how on the right side of the spine, the skin moves away from the spine? And on the left it gathers towards the spine? Some weren’t getting it so we came down for a clear demonstration on the stage.
Supta Konasana – see how the skin spreads and widens either side of the spine?
Parsva Halasana – The side that the legs were walking to, that side the skin moved towards the spine and the other side was moving away from the spine.
Why is this important? What is on the left side? The stomach. What is on the right side? The liver. And that is how we get that pumping action on that side, for the organ body, that is why purification is there - the stomach gets extended and the liver gets squeezed.
Parsvaikapada Sarvangasana – observing the movement of the skin and the pull on the organs below. The question was asked “Are we trying to resist the movement of the skin?” So she got an assistant to hold the demonstrator’s skin in place, by holding a belt around his back body to prevent the movement of the skin with the leg. He was extremely limited in his movement of the leg, he couldn’t get into the pose.
Halasana – supta konasana – parsva halasana - now actually your fingers are there, so use your fingers there to feel the movements of the skin.
Sarvangasana drop back to setubandha sarvangasana (or do chatushpadasana if you can’t drop back) – eka pada setubandha sarvangasana and find out what happens to your back (even if you have to use a bench to drop back to understand this action).
Supta baddha konasana – Keep the chest and head up on the shoulder stand platform and fold the blanket for the head, so that there is descending order from head to chest to buttocks and feet on the floor. Use the belt for the legs. "At this moment on time you have to forget the class now. Inhalation you have to spread out".
Prashant – 14th February 2020 - Pranayama
All pranayama was taken lying flat, bolster on thighs – different confinements: below the diaphragm, above the diaphragm inhalations and viloma exhalations inside the skull. We have missed the paranayam by the back body and for the back body – that is homework.
Inhalation acts on the abdomen but abdomen acts on the inhalation. Do you watch the effect of the abdomen on the breath or only the effect of the breath on the abdomen. Just as a file smoothes the object that is filing, but also gets worn down itself, there is a mutual relationship between the two – they are both benefactor and beneficiary to and from each other. We have different types of gastric surgery but for the yogi there is uddiyana kriya, kapalabhati and also viparita karani mudra (performed classically) is a mudra not an asana and these are necessary practices for the abdomen.
Exhalation in the skull – using the breath stages like a viloma – exhaling brain cells, eyes, cheeks, mouth parts – the housewife (!) tidies the kitchen to make the space properly organised, but do you rearrange, organise the insides of the skull? That too has to have everything in its proper place to function properly. Making the exhalation start from a thick thread, becoming finer and finer and finer with each successive exhalation stage.
Inhalations in the chest – silent speech (different from thoughts, which we don’t control, they do as they wish, in fact the more you try not to think a thought, the more you think that thought!) Silent speech is intentional – like when you rehearse inside what you are going to say to convince a jury for example. So using silent speech on the inhalation and observing how it affects the breath itself. ‘iiiiii’ as in trikonasana ‘aaaaaaaa’ ‘eeeeeeeeeeeee’ ‘oooooooooooooo’ each one of these silent phonetical pronounciations creates a completely different breath.
You came here wanting to ‘do’ pranayama. Doing is not the same as learning. I deliberately let some things remain unexplained because I want to make you inquisitive to find out more.