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10-MIN YOGA SESSION BASED AROUND A STANDING FORWARD BEND    (3 ) 

Uttanasana Session 3 Image
FIRST EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana, i.e. with your feet about hip-width apart and parallel, so that your toes are pointing forwards. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed between your big toe joint, little toe joint and heel. See if you can feel/imagine your weight sinking down through these points and let this sinking feeling cause a corresponding uplift which you can feel/imagine in your instep.  Take this lift from your instep up through your body to encourage a gentle elongation.  Inhaling, lift your arms forwards and up; exhaling, lower your arms forwards and down.  Continue for about 3 breaths.  Inhaling, lift your arms up once more. Exhaling, imagine your weight sinking through your bones to your feet. Inhaling, allow yourself to extend upwards and stretch your hands/arms up a little further. After about 4 breaths, lower your arms while exhaling.

SECOND EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
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. Place the back of your hands on your lower back with one hand higher up the back so that 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 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. Either lean your trunk to a horizontal position 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. Hold for a few breaths, breathing naturally. Come out of the posture slowly, keeping your knees bent and maintaining the shape of your spine as you lift your trunk back to the vertical position. Straighten your legs by pressing your feet down into the ground.

THIRD EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Bend your knees and lean your trunk forwards slightly until you can lightly rest your hands on the top of your thighs. Have your elbows pointing outwards. Exhaling, rotate your pelvic girdle so that your bottom tucks in and under  (your buttock muscles will contract), and allow your spine to curve forwards, and your head to lower. Inhaling, allow your bottom to  slightly move backwards and up (relax your buttock muscles) and uncurl your upper spine so that your chest expands and head lifts to face forwards (do NOT take your head backwards as this can put a strain on your neck). Continue these slow, thoughtful movements with your breath for about 4/5 breaths. Return your spine to a neutral position and press down with your feet to straighten your legs.

FOURTH EXERCISE OF SESSION (4 minutes)
EITHER    Practise a meditation or breathing exercise in a standing or sitting position of your choice. You could try the following moving meditation : Stand so that your body is long and relaxed. Take one step forward. Briefly pause. Take one step back to where you were. Briefly pause. Take one step to one side (say to the left); briefly pause and take one step back to the centre. Briefly pause. Take one step backwards; briefly pause, and take one step back to centre. Briefly pause. Take one step to the other side (say to the right), briefly pause and take one step back to the centre. The steps should be complete steps; that is, both feet move and the pause should be very short, just long enough to make each step a separate movement. The accuracy of your movements and how you breathe is not crucial - the point is to allow your mind to settle gently and to rest on the process of staying with the current sequence of movements and on your movements.
OR      Lie in a comfortable position and practise a relaxation method of your choice.