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Ustrasana Session 2
Kneel with knees and front of pelvic girdle against the front of a chair – so your upper legs are vertical. Consciously draw your tailbone downwards and press your lower legs downwards to help keep your lower trunk against the chair in the exercises that follows. Place your palms on the ribs of the opposite side of the trunk so your arms cross at your forearms. As you start to inhale, lift the top arm up to the same level as the shoulder (keeping the shape of the arm), encouraging your chest to lift as you do this. Continuing to inhale, straighten your arm forwards, and then swing it round to pointing sideways – and, as your arm swings to the side, turn your head so as to help it face the same direction as the arm is pointing towards. Exhaling, rotate shoulders around the axis of the spine, so that the arm swings to pointing backwards with the head following the movement. As you do this, take care to keep your hips facing forwards – you may find it helpful to think of the hip (of the side you are turning towards) pressing forwards into the chair. Inhaling, unwind the spine, returning the arm to pointing sideways and the head facing sideways. Exhaling, return the hand to the opposite lower rib under the other arm and, at the same time, return head back to centre. Repeat to the other side. Repeat 2 to 4 more times to each side.
Continue kneeling in front of a chair. Remind yourself to draw your tailbone downwards and press your forelegs downwards. Lift your arms forwards to shoulder level, palms facing downwards. Inhaling, draw your elbows backwards to inline with your shoulders (elbows bending) so the forearms continue to point forwards. As you do this, encourage your chest to expand forwards. Exhaling, move your shoulders backwards and then draw your elbows backwards relative to your shoulders (encouraging your shoulder blades to move towards each other). Take care, as you do this, that your pelvic girdle remains in contact with the chair and your tailbone continues to be drawn downwards. Inhaling, lift your trunk and return your arms so the elbows are in line with shoulders and forearms pointing forwards. Exhaling, straighten and stretch your arms forwards. Repeat 3 to 7 more times. Then lower your arms.
Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Place hands on knees – fingers curving over the top of knees so they point towards your feet. Move your knees as far from your chest as possible while keeping hands on knees. Mentally put a count to your breath. As you exhale, draw one knee close to your chest and, as you inhale, return the knee to beside the other one. Repeat several times slowing the exhalation down until it is about double the count length of your inhalation. Then practise 2 to 4 more times to each side.
Lie down in a comfortable position and practise a relaxation method of your choice. You could try mentally saying to yourself as you inhale “breathing in, I receive breath” and, as you exhale, “breathing out I give out breath”. And then, after several breaths of this, allow your awareness to rest on the sensations of breath flowing in and out. 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.