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Egyptian Pose Session 3
Sit on a firm chair, with your spine vertical and elongated. Ideally, sit with your knees and hips forming right angles – you may need to place something (e.g. block, books or cushion) under either your hips or your feet to achieve this. Sit with your back close to the back of the chair but avoid resting against the back of the chair. Your feet should be about hip-width apart and parallel to each other with your ankles under your knees. Keeping your spine long and straight, lean forwards until you are able to rest your palms on the top of your knees with your fingers pointing inwards towards each other and with comfortably bent elbows. Exhaling, encourage your tailbone to move downwards and allow the resultant curving flexion of the spine to travel up from the base of your trunk to the top of your neck so that your chin ends up tucked inwards and your face faces downwards. Inhaling, imagine a line between the bottom base of your tail bone and your breast bone and make this line elongate so that the chest expands forwards between your shoulders. Continue to inhale, as you move the back of the neck backwards (keeping the chin tucked in towards the front of the neck), so that you end up facing forwards with your spine in comfortable extension. Repeat for 3 to 6 breaths, enjoying the slow movement of the spine with the breath. Then lift the trunk back up to vertical (consciously pressing down through your feet will help).

Remaining sitting, take your hands to the sides of the back to the chair – palms facing inwards (towards each other) and fingers curled round the back of the chair. Keeping the spine long, lean the trunk forwards and at the same time allow the hands to move up the sides of the back of the chair until your hands have reached the top and you are leaning forwards as much as the length of your arms will allow. Relax the weight of your trunk forwards so the arms take this weight and the chest moves forwards relative to your shoulders. Bring your awareness to the space between the shoulder-blades – imagine there is a small balloon there (just below the spine) that gently expands when you inhale pushing your shoulder blades apart and lifting the spine backwards and that gently shrinks when you exhale, allowing the spine to sink forwards and the shoulder-blades to move closer together. Observe and enjoy this gentle movement with the breath – with a relaxed feeling and passively allowing the breath and movements to occur. After 3 to 6 breaths, bring your awareness to your feet and consciously press down through your feet to help you lift the trunk back up to vertical. Return your arms to your sides.

Still sitting, place the back of your hands on the back of your trunk. Run your hands up and down the back of your trunk to check that your spine is essentially straight – if your lower back tends to curve inwards then imagine a slight sinking of your tail-bone downwards - observe how that encourages your lower back to lengthen and elongate. If your upper back is curving outwards a lot see if you can imagine an unfolding and opening of your upper trunk with inhalations encouraging each spinal bone to become aligned on top of each other. If you have a tendency to jut your chin forward, think about extending the back of your neck upwards so that your chin tucks in a little. Place the backs of your hands on the lower back so that thumbs and little finger are touching (aiding awareness of the shape of your lower back) and consciously “point” your shoulders and elbows sideways (encouraging the chest to be open and the upper back long). Exhaling and keeping the trunk long and essentially straight (and pressing the feet down to help stabilise the movement) lean the trunk forwards as far as is comfortable, then continue the exhalation as you allow the trunk to flex forwards and allow the head / neck to relax downwards. Inhaling and keeping the trunk leant forwards, lift the trunk back into a straight alignment and consciously point the shoulders and elbows sideways. Exhaling, consciously press down through the feet to help you lift the trunk back up to vertical. Inhale. Repeat this movement with the breath 2 to 4 more times with awareness.

Either lie down for relaxation or stay sitting for a breathing, visualisation or meditation practice. If staying sitting, check you are in a comfortable sitting position with your spine vertical and elongated. Let your hands rest in your lap or on your legs. If comfortable doing so allow your eyes to close. You could try the following practice : On one breath think or say “peace for myself”; with the next breath “peace for all around”; and with the next “peace for all the world”. Repeat this sequence of phrases with your breath several times. Then let go of having particular thoughts and breath awareness. Observe how you feel for a few moments. Then, keeping your eyes closed, direct your awareness to what you are going to do next and your surroundings. When you are ready, open your eyes.