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Matsyasana Session 5
Sit with your spine straight and vertical – if necessary, sit on a block or chair. Lift your arms forwards to shoulder level. Inhaling, move arms backwards at shoulder level as far as you can – feel your chest open and your shoulder blades being squeezed together. Exhaling, move your arms and elbows forwards so your forearms end up on top of each other again. Repeat 4 to 12 times breathing slowly.
Lie on your back, legs straight out along the floor. Bring knees & feet together & push your heels away from your hips (so your legs feel active). Place your hands under your bottom (palms facing downwards). Rotate arms and shoulders outwards so your shoulders seem to press down a bit more and your chest seems to open a bit. Exhaling, squeeze your abdomen in towards your spine. Try to maintain this abdominal tone while mentally directing your in-breath into your breast-bone – so your breast-bone lifts and your upper back arches. Continue consciously trying to increase abdominal contraction during exhalation and mentally directing the inhalation to aid the arching of the upper back. Without bending your arms, press your shoulders and elbows down to open and expand your chest further. Continue this exercise for 6 to 8 breaths. Then slowly lower your upper trunk while exhaling and remove your hands from under your bottom. Pause for a couple of breaths to allow your breathing to relax.
Continue lying on your back and lift your legs one by one into the crooked position. Swing your arms to shoulder level. Exhaling, lift your arms to vertical and then wrap your arms round your shoulders as though giving yourself a hug. For the next 3 breaths: when inhaling, mentally direct the in-breath into the back of the chest and feel the shoulder-blades move apart to allow the spine to move towards the floor; and when exhaling see if you can wrap your hands even further around your shoulders. Then, while exhaling, try to move your elbows to one side so that one shoulder lifts a little off the floor and, inhaling, return your arms back to centre. Repeat to the other side. Repeat 2 more times to each side. Inhaling, unwrap your arms. Then repeat the above sequence with your arms wrapped around your shoulders the other way.
Lie down in a comfortable position and practise a relaxation method of your choice. You could try imagining that you are lying in a boat with lots of blankets around you so you feel really warm and comfortable. Imagine that the boat is slowly drifting: slowly drifting forwards and backwards. Let your mind rest on the slow drifting rhythm of the boat. Let the rhythm lull you. Allow your breathing to marry with the slow gentle drifting of the boat, to decrease and slow. Remember not to rush sitting up (and then standing) after practising relaxation as it causes one’s blood pressure to lower, which can cause dizziness if one moves too quickly.