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, feet about hip-width apart and parallel, so your toes point forwards. Let your shoulders relax downwards. Lift one foot and lower it to the mat behind you so that the “top” of the toes rest on the mat and the toes point backwards (if this is uncomfortable you can place the base of the toes on the mat pointing forwards – heel still off the mat). Inhaling, lift the arm of the same side as the forward leg forwards and up until pointing overhead (or as far as feels comfortable). Exhaling, lower your arm forwards and down to your side. Repeat for 2 to 4 breaths, then return your back foot to beside the other foot. Repeat for the same number of breaths with the other foot in the backward position and lifting the other arm.
SECOND EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana with feet hip-width apart, parallel, pointing forwards. Bend your knees, keeping hips over ankles and trunk upright. Rotate your pelvic girdle so your bottom tucks in and under, and your lower back straightens and elongates – obviously this is not necessary if your lower back is already straight. Exhaling, imagine/feel your feet/hips sinking downwards a little. 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. 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. Exhaling, try to tilt your pelvis forwards (as though trying to stick your bottom up in the air). Take this movement as far as you can and then continue the downward movement along your spine until your trunk rests on your thighs. Then allow your trunk and neck to completely relax. Move your hands to either side of your hips – palms resting against the top side of each leg. Slowly slide your hands down and round the back of your legs until your hands are as low as they will comfortably go – for most this will leave the hands wrapped round the back of the calves or ankles. Bring your attention to your feet – imagine your feet sinking down into the ground – particularly your heels but also the pads of your little toe joints and big toe joints. Consciously think of pressing your feet down – you may find your legs straighten a little as you do this, but don’t consciously try to think in terms of straightening your legs. Also, don’t press your feet down so much that you find your legs straighten so much that your trunk ceases to be resting along your thighs. Hold for a few breaths, feeling and enjoying your connection with the earth. Exit from the pose by bending your knees a little more and bringing your hands to the floor. 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.
THIRD EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Lie on your back, bring your knees to your chest and lightly rest your hands on your knees. Inhaling, straighten both legs into the air but not so far your hands cannot stay in contact with them. Exhaling, relax the legs back to the fully flexed position close to your chest. Continue for 6 to 10 more breaths, enjoying slow movements and the gentle smooth flow of breath. You may wish to count the length to your inhalation and exhalation – if you try this, you may wish to explore letting the exhalation last longer than the inhalation.
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 the earth and its very hot centre as a store of heat and nurturing love. Imagine the heat at the centre of the earth radiating out to the surface– and imagine this heat as nurturing love. Imagine your centre, and in this centre a store of energy and nurturing love – and, from this store at the core of your being, imagine energy and nurturing love radiating out into all aspects of your being. Imagine your core and the centre of the earth are connected so that heat and nurturing love from the earth fill your core and from there radiate to all parts of your being. Feel and enjoy the earth’s warmth and nurturing love radiating through all of your being. Rest filled with warmth and love. When it is time to finish the relaxation, thank the earth for the warmth and love and everything else it gives you and remember you are lying on a mat. 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.