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Ustrasana Session 4
Stand in front of a chair and place one foot on the seat of the chair. Check your hips are still level, consciously sink the heel of the standing leg and draw your tailbone towards the floor. Start with arms by sides, palms facing inwards. Keeping your shoulders low as you inhale, lift arms sideways to shoulder level. Exhaling, rotate arms as a whole so palms end up facing forwards and draw your shoulder-blades towards each other. Inhaling, encourage your chest to expand forwards whilst keeping shoulder-blades drawn towards each other. Slowly exhaling & keeping the shoulder blades drawn towards each other, slowly draw your arms to your side. Hold this position for 2 or 3 breaths and then relax the rotation of the arms, at the same time as allowing your arms to lift a little away from your sides. Exhaling, allow arms to relax to rest by your sides. Repeat 1 or 2 more times on this side before stepping your foot down from the chair and repeating the same number of times to the other side.
Kneel in front of a chair. Draw tailbone downwards and press forelegs downwards. Lift your arms forwards to shoulder level with palms facing downwards. Bend the wrists to bring the palms to face forwards, fingers pointing upwards. Inhaling, swing arms round at shoulder level until pointing sideways (hands still pointing upwards) and, as you do this, encourage your chest to expand forwards. Exhaling, move your hands so palms face down and then on to palms facing inwards (hands now pointing downwards) and, as you do this, draw your shoulder blades towards each other. Inhaling, encourage your shoulders to roll backwards as you rotate the arms as a whole so your hands first point forwards, then upwards and then slightly backwards. Your upper back should now be in a significant back-bend with your head either still facing forwards so slightly looking upwards with the spine in the neck continuing the curve of the thoracic spine. The base of your pelvic girdle should of course still be in contact with the front of the chair and your lower legs still pressing downwards. Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths. Lift your trunk to upright and lower arms to your sides.
Sit in a comfortable version of Dandasana (see the 10 min sessions on this pose). Place a chair so it faces you with the seat part over just one of your legs/feet. Lean your trunk forwards as far as possible whilst keeping your spine long. Place the hand of the chair side on the seat of the chair so the arm is straight and pointing forwards – you may need to adjust the placement of the chair to find this position. Bring the other arm forwards so it is parallel to the first arm – the movements that follow are for this arm. Exhaling, bend the elbow, drawing it backwards whilst keeping the forearm pointing forwards (and roughly parallel to the floor). Draw the elbow as far back as you can, whilst keeping the shoulder facing forwards. Inhaling, straighten the elbow by pressing the palm down and back. Exhaling, rotate the shoulders to bring the shoulder of this arm to pointing upwards (and then, if flexibility allows, pointing slightly backwards) and turn your head to look along the line of the shoulder. Inhaling, swing the arm upwards and then forwards, returning it to being parallel to the other arm, and returning head to facing forwards. You may wish to slightly lean forwards more and readjust the position of the chair before repeating. Then move the arms to beside your trunk and lift trunk to vertical. Repeat to the other side.
Lie down in a comfortable position and practise a relaxation method of your choice. You could try imagining lying in the middle of a big pile of wonderfully thick & soft duvets that gently wrap themselves round you & hug you. 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.