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Uttanasana Session 13 Image
Stand in Tadasana, feet about hip-width apart and parallel, so your toes point forwards. Let your shoulders relax downwards. Inhaling, lift both arms forwards to horizontal. Relax the shoulders down a little (as if you can rest the arms on a support that takes some of their weight). Exhaling, lower one arm downwards past your hip, then back and up to shoulder level – your head turning as you do this so at this point it looks backwards. Inhaling, lift the arm that is currently pointing backwards until it points upwards – eyes watching the hand as the arm moves. Exhaling, lower the arm forwards until pointing forwards – eyes watching hand as the arm moves so that the head is now facing forwards. Continue the exhalation and move the other arm backwards – then inhale and lift the arm to pointing upwards and, on the first part of the next exhalation, lower forwards. Repeat this arm movement with each arm 3 to 4 more times.

Bend your knees, keeping hips over ankles and trunk upright. Interlock your fingers behind your back. Imagine your heels are sinking down into your mat (this will encourage your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles to tone and stabilise your lower back) – but keep your knees bent as you do this . Roll your shoulders backwards to squeeze your shoulder-blades together and, inhaling, encourage your chest to expand forwards and up. Encourage your shoulders and hands to sink downwards. Lift your arms backwards (arms staying straight) as far as feels comfortable. Aiming to keep your trunk and arm shape and position the same relative to each other, exhale and lean your trunk forwards from the hip until the trunk reaches the horizontal position; inhaling, lift the trunk back to the upright position. Repeat this movement with the breath for several breaths. When ready to exit, then, from the trunk upright position, straighten legs, lower arms and then let your hands release each other. Note: this exercise can be surprisingly tiring for the quadriceps femoris muscles (front thigh muscles).

Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Leave the knees relaxed and close to the chest and rest your arms by your sides along the mat. Inhaling, straighten one leg into the air (but not so far that the weight of the leg ceases to be over your trunk) and at the same time lift the arm of the same side at the lifted leg through the air to the floor over head. Exhaling, relax the leg down and simultaneously move the arm up to vertical and then down to the mat by your side. Repeat to the other side. Continue for 6 to 10 more breaths, enjoying slow movements and the gentle smooth flow of breath.

Move into a comfortable position for practising a relaxation of your choice. You could try the following relaxation practice: In your imagination, build a beautiful and peaceful landscape around yourself. Imagine what you are lying on and what is around you – perhaps trees, a lake or mountains or a rolling meadow with wild flowers. Imagine the weather, perhaps sunny with a light breeze and small clouds in a blue sky, or perhaps night time with still air and stars in the sky. Do you choose for there to be birds, or butterflies or bees in the air – if so, listen to their sound. Perhaps you can hear other sounds – perhaps of animals or water sounds or wind in trees or grass. Are there any scents in the air – perhaps of flowers or wild herbs. Imagine this landscape around you in as much detail as you can, using all your senses – sight, smell, taste and touch. Having created this beautiful, peaceful and safe landscape, rest there enjoying the sensations of being in this place. When it is time to finish your relaxation, know that you can create this landscape around yourself anytime you wish and return to lying on your mat and become aware of your breath. 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.