N.B. This Session Is Not For Those With High Blood Pressure or Other Reasons for Avoiding Inverted Poses - see Issues and Solutions Page.FIRST EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana with your feet hip-width apart, parallel and pointing forwards. Inhaling, lift both arms sideways until arms are pointing overhead and let wrists and elbows to soften (bend lightly) so the wrists cross above the head. Keeping this soft feeling in the arms while exhaling, lower the arms sideways to shoulder level at the same time as encouraging the upper back to move forwards (as though towards the front of your chest) by moving the back of the neck backwards (and keeping the chin tucked in towards the neck so the head stays facing forwards). Inhaling, lift arms back to the position with wrists crossing overhead with a sense of the crown of the head gently pulled towards the “heavens” so the spine returns to a “neutral” position. Exhaling, lower arms sideways to your sides. Repeat this movement with your breath 3 to 6 times.
SECOND EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana with your feet hip-width apart, parallel and pointing forwards. Bend your knees, keeping hips over ankles and trunk upright. Rotate your pelvis so your bottom tucks in and under, and your lower back straightens and elongates – obviously not necessary if your lower back is already straight. Exhaling, imagine/feel your feet/hips sinking downwards a little and, inhaling, imagine/feel your spine elongating upwards. Place the back of your hands on your lower back so the little finger of one just touches the other thumb – increasing your awareness of what is happening in your lower back. Check the alignment of your head – you may want to tuck your chin in a little. You have now adjusted the shape of your spine to that you should maintain throughout entry and main part of this exercise – if you feel you lack the body awareness necessary to do this, do NOT do this yoga session until you have developed the appropriate awareness, without which there is some risk of an unhealthy strain on your back. Maintaining the current shape and elongation of your spine, slowly lean your trunk forwards from your hips. Bend your knees enough to enable you to bring your trunk to the horizontal position. While inhaling, swing both arms in the same plane as your trunk (i.e. sideways relative to the trunk) until pointing overhead (or as far as feels comfortable). Exhaling, swing the arms back via the same route to bring the hands back to where they were on your back. Continue for 4 to 10 breaths taking care to maintain the shape and position of your spine – when the hands come to the lower back at the end of the exhalation they can help give you feedback on this. Exit this pose via the next exercise as described below.
THIRD EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Lower the trunk to rest on the thighs, bending your knees sufficiently; then completely relax the trunk and neck. Allow your arms to lower gently to the floor and then interlock your arms (forearms intertwined as with “crossed arms” if one were sitting or standing); then allow them to hang loosely from the shoulders. All of the trunk, neck and arms fully relaxed and hanging from the hips and shoulders respectively. Hold for several breaths, enjoying the gentle in- out-flow of the breath and the tendency for the trunk, neck and arms to relax down a little further on each exhalation. Exit the pose by unfolding the arms from each other and bringing your hands to the floor (bending your knees sufficiently to allow this). Then allow your weight to tilt forwards from your heels (which lift off the floor) onto your hands – walk your hands forwards to bring your knees to the floor.
FOURTH EXERCISE OF SESSION (4 minutes)
Move into a comfortable position for practising a relaxation of your choice. You could try the following relaxation practice: Imagine you are lying on a warm sunny beach – and the sand has been warmed greatly in the sun before you lay on it. Snuggle into the sand – trusting your weight to the sand. Feel the warmth of the sand underneath and the warmth of the sun above – imagine this warmth as love being sent to you and into you to warm and nurture you. Enjoy and relax. Feel warm and loved – enjoy and rest. When it is time to finish the relaxation, thank the sand and the sun for the warmth and love. Remember not to rush sitting up (and then standing) after practising relaxation as it causes one’s blood pressure to fall, which can cause dizziness if one moves too quickly.