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Bhujangasana Session 4
Lie on your front with your forehead resting on a mat or towel that has been folded a couple of times. Have your chin tucked in as much as possible so that no pressure is on your nose. Move your hands above your head, so that one hand is cupped in the other and one palm is touching your head. While exhaling, press your head downwards and feel this cause a wave of elongation/straightening that travels from your neck down your spine. While inhaling, relax and allow a wave of relaxation to travel up your spine into the back of your neck.
Move your hands so your wrists are roughly in line with, but further apart than, your shoulders. Your forearms should rest against the floor and your elbows should be tucked in close by your sides so that they point towards your feet. Spend a few moments feeling/imagining your body relaxing into the ground. Then, while exhaling, squeeze/contract your abdomen in towards your spine – feel this cause an opening and slight flexing of your lumbar/lower spine. While inhaling, imagine the whole of your spine lengthening. Repeat for 2-3 breaths and then, while inhaling, try to maintain as much of the abdominal squeeze as you can and direct your in-breath into your breastbone. Now, while exhaling, reinforce the abdominal squeeze. You may find your head and shoulders start to lift – in which case allow the movement to happen but keep your chin tucked in. Continue this breathing for 5 or more breaths. Then, while exhaling, slowly lower and relax. N.B. The idea here is that one focuses on one’s breath and allows the movement to happen rather than trying to make it happen.
Move hips up and back until your bottom rests on your heels (or close to your heels) and rest your forehead on your mat. Place your hands on the floor/mat overhead with your arms nearly straight. Without moving the positions of your hands, legs or bottom, lift your trunk and head up so that your spine becomes straight. While exhaling, slowly curl your back and tuck your chin in without moving your legs or hands. While inhaling, move the breastbone forwards relative to your hips and shoulders and lift your head up so your neck is in line with the rest of your spine – again without moving your hands or your legs. Continue this movement with your breath for about 4 breaths.
Lower your trunk down until your head rests on the floor or mat. (If having your head below your heart is not good for you, rest in another forward bend position e.g. lie on your back, hugging knees to chest or try a gentle sitting forward bend). Many find that resting their head on their hands or a folded towel makes this pose more comfortable. If your hands are not under your head, move your arms so that they rest alongside your trunk on the floor and your hands are by your feet. Relax in this position for a little while, feeling or imagining your spine lengthen. N.B. Because the head is below the heart this pose is NOT suitable for those who should not increase the blood pressure in their head e.g. those with: - high blood pressure, glaucoma.
If you wish to sit and practise some breathing or meditation, pull your bottom in and under and slowly uncurl your spine up into the vertical position from the base of your spine upwards. If you have poor circulation in your legs it is a good idea to change the position of your legs. Whatever your sitting position, make sure your spine is vertical and straight. Alternatively, lie in a comfortable position and practise some relaxation. A good relaxation/breathing/meditation to practise is listening to the sound of your breathing. Remember not to rush sitting up (and then standing) after practising relaxation as it causes one’s blood pressure to drop, which can cause dizziness if one moves too quickly.