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Uttanasana Session 15 Image
Stand in Tadasana, feet hip-width apart, parallel and pointing forwards. Inhaling, lift your arms forwards to level with the shoulders. Exhaling, relax the shoulders downwards a little (as if you can rest the arms on a support that takes some of their weight). Inhaling, swing your arms sideways at shoulder level until pointing sideways – as you do this, have a sense of the front of your chest opening and expanding to receive the breath. Exhaling, swing your arms backwards at shoulder level as far as feels comfortable – as you do this, have a sense of the breath leaving the back of your trunk and being squeezed out by your arms moving backwards and your spine (between your shoulder blades) moving forwards into your trunk. Inhaling, swing your arms sideways at shoulder level until pointing sideways – as you do this have a sense of the back of your trunk opening and expanding to receive the breath. Exhaling swing your arms forwards until pointing forwards – as you do this have a sense of the breath leaving the front of your trunk, squeezed out by your arm movements and the abdomen contracting inwards. Repeat this cycle of arm movements with the breath for 4 or 8 more times and then lower your arms.
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 and, inhaling, imagine/feel your spine elongating upwards. Use your hands to check the shape of your lower back and adjust as necessary to make your back straight and long. 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 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. Bring your hands into the prayer position (nameste) in front of your chest – encourage your elbows and shoulders as low as comfortable. Keeping your hands together, imagine your elbows and shoulder pointing sideways – almost moving sideways (away from your centre line) a little - this will help you keep your upper back broad and long in this exercise. Exhaling, lean your trunk to a horizontal position (maintaining the current shape and elongation of your spin) or to a comfortable position above horizontal : maintaining the shape of your spine and good body awareness is more important than how far you lean your trunk. Inhaling, lift the trunk back to vertical, keeping your knees bent and maintaining the shape of your spine. Repeat for several breaths, enjoying the slow breathing and movement. Then straighten your legs by pressing your feet down into the ground.
Stand with feet about hip-width apart, feel parallel and pointing forwards. Bend your knees and lift your arms sideways to shoulder level. Exhaling, straighten one leg and, at the same time, turn your trunk to face the side of your straight leg while swinging your arms round at shoulder level (so that the arm of the same side as the straight leg is wrapped around your back, the other arm wrapped round your front). Inhaling, unwind your arms back to pointing sideways at shoulder level and at the same time bring your trunk to facing forwards and return your hips to being above the mid-point between your feet, both knees bent. In this set of movements, it is important (for your knee’s health) to take care that the knee of the most bent leg remains pointing in the same direction as the feet. Repeat to the other side. Repeat 3 to 6 more times to each side.
Either, lie down in a comfortable position and practise a relaxation method of your choice, or stand or sit for some breathing or meditation. You could try the following breathing / meditation exercise whilst sitting – eyes can be closed or open. Inhaling, think “peace for myself” and, exhaling, think “peace for all around”. Sit quietly (without any particular thoughts) for a few moments before getting on with your next activity.