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Paschimottanasana Session 4
Sit with your legs in front of you start with your knees bent and pointing upwards. Adjust as necessary to be sure that your spine is vertical and essentially straight. (You can sit directly on the floor or if your hamstrings are a bit tight sit on one or two folded towels or yoga block but if you do this also place yoga blocks behind you). Leaving the heels on the floor, lift the soles of the feet, drawing the tops of your feet as close to your shins as you are able. Push the heels along the floor so the legs straighten until your thighs are parallel with the floor then imagine your feet are pressing into a vertical wall and imagine pressing pads of the joints of little and big toes and heels into this. Have your toes pointing upwards and spread wide. Press your heels downwards. Lean backwards to place your palms on the floor (or the previously placed yoga blocks) with your fingers pointing forwards. Press down through your hands a little and roll your shoulders backwards so the chest expands forwards. Exhaling, squeeze your abdomen inwards (or reinforce the inward contraction of the abdomen). Inhaling and aiming to maintain the tone in the abdomen, consciously direct breath towards the front of the chest, encouraging it to lift and expand more. Hold for a few breaths, then release the breathing and lift trunk to upright.

Leave your legs in the dandasana position and place a chair over your legs so that the front of the chair faces you. Place your hands on the top of the seat. Keeping the trunk long and open, tilt the pelvic girdle forwards pushing the chair forwards. When your pelvic girdle is as far forwards as is comfortable, press your hands downwards. Then apply inward arm spirals : Imagine the top of the spirals at the top back of your arms (behind your shoulders); then imagine a movement (very little actual movement occurs) moving down and round the sides of your arms from this point towards the pad of your index finger joints and feel this cause the pad of the index finger joints to be pressed into the chair. Maintain the inward arm spiral (i.e. by maintaining the pressing downwards of the index finger joint pads, while applying the outward spirals for your arms as follows. First, imagine the top of the spirals at the top inside of your arms (i.e. in your armpits); then imagine a movement (very little actual movement occurs) moving down and round the front and then the sides of your arms from this point towards the pad of your little finger joints and feel this causing the pad of the little finger joints to be pressed downwards. Hold for several breaths and then move your hands to your lower back and lift trunk to upright.

Sit in Dandasana as earlier, and bend one knee to bring it above the ankle and the foot beside the other leg. Place your hands on the front of your bent knee, the hand of the same side as the bent knee under the other one. Elongate your spine upwards. Straighten the arm of the straight leg side forwards so it points forwards at shoulder level (palm face down). Swing the arm round at shoulder level, first to pointing sideways and then to pointing backwards eyes on the hand throughout so that the head turns as arm moves round. Lower this arm either to the floor or behind your back. Hold for a few breaths. Then lift the arm back to shoulder level and unwind, returning hand to knee. Swap your legs over and 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 yourself at the centre of a sphere. Inhaling, imagine a current (say of energy or prana) flowing from all parts of the sphere to the centre of your being. Exhaling, imagine current flowing from the centre of your being to all parts of the sphere. 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.