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Paschimottanasana Session 3
Place one or two folded towels or yoga blocks and then sit on them (or sit directly on the floor) with your knees in the crooked position i.e. soles of feet on the floor (as far from your buttocks as is comfortable), knees pointing upwards. Place your hands on the front of your knees so your fingers point towards each other: palms facing knees, trunk and arms curved with elbows pointing sideways. Take a few breaths to encourage your spine to elongate upwards and your shoulders to broaden. When you have settled the shape of your trunk and neck, slowly straighten one leg forwards then the other leg, so that your legs end up with upper thighs parallel to the floor (or less far than this if necessary to maintain the shape of your spine/trunk). Press your heels downwards a little. Bring your palms to the front of your shoulders with elbows pointing downwards. Inhaling, straighten your arms downwards, and then press your shoulders and arms backwards so the chest is moved forwards (and the upper back into a back bend). Exhaling, relax the pressing back of the shoulders and arms and then bring the palms back to the shoulders. Continue for a few breaths and then, aiming to keep your spine long, draw your legs up towards the crooked leg position.

From the legs in the crooked position as above, place your hands on the front of your knees so that your fingers point towards each other, palms face the knees and trunk and arms are curved with elbows pointing sideways. Take a few breaths to encourage your spine to elongate upwards and your shoulders to broaden. Exhaling, tilt your pelvic girdle forwards so the trunk leans forwards (still long and straight) it is fine if this movement is very slight. Inhaling, lift your arms to the same plane as the trunk with elbows bent and pointing sideways, forearms pointing upwards. Continue your inhalation as you lift your trunk to upright and then lower your hands to your knees. Repeat for a few breaths taking suitable care for your spine. Note: the reason for having the elbows bent is it facilitates keeping the upper back free and long as one becomes more mobile in the shoulders, then the arms can be lifted to straighter positions but this needs to follow what feels right for the upper back.

Sit on folded towels or yoga blocks with legs in front in crooked position (see above). Knees and feet can be further apart than hip-width if you wish but do have your feet pointing in the same direction as your knees. Sit tall with an open chest and hands resting by side of trunk. Lift one arm sideways to vertical. Exhaling, imagine an elongation travelling down from the shoulder of the lifted arm down the side of trunk to the hip and on into the earth. Inhaling, imagine elongation travelling up from the hip (of this side) to and through the shoulder and up the lifted arm to the air above the hand. Continue for several breaths and then lower to the other side. Repeat to the other side.

Find a comfortable position and practise a relaxation method of your choice. You could try the following relaxation practice. Imagine that at your feet there is a huge sea of energy you might imagine this energy as having a particular colour or (sound) vibration. Inhaling, imagine a wave of the energy flows up over and through you to the top of your head and, exhaling, that the wave retreats back to the sea of energy. Imagine that, as the wave flows through you, it gives you energy that is of a quality of most use to you. And, as it flows back into the sea, that it carries with it the stuff that you no longer have a use for. Then after several breaths pause, enjoying how you feel after being washed by the sea of energy. Remember not to rush sitting up and standing after practising relaxation as it causes the blood pressure to fall, which can cause dizziness if one moves too quickly.