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10-MIN YOGA SESSION BASED AROUND A STANDING FORWARD BEND    ( 4 ) 

Uttanasana Session 4 Image
FIRST EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana with your feet a little wide of your hips - feet parallel and pointing forwards. Allow your knees to be soft - slightly bent. Have a comfortable sense of being suspended from the crown of your head. So your trunk feels as if it is hanging suspended your head, your arms hanging suspended from your shoulders and your pelvic girdle hanging suspended from your spine - so there is a feeling of relaxed fluidity. From this position, gently and slowly swivel your hips in circles (a la hula-hoop) - start with very small circles and gradually make them first get bigger and then smaller until your hips are finally still. Repeat, moving your hips in a circle in the other direction. 

SECOND EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana with your feet hip-width apart, parallel and pointing forwards. Bend your knees, keeping your hips over your ankles and your trunk upright. Rotate your pelvic girdle so that 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 further up 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 that 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 and then let your arms hang loose from your shoulders - rotate your forearms (at the elbows) so that the palms face each other - if your finger tips touch the ground that is fine but not necessary. Inhaling, lift one arm sideways to shoulder level and, exhaling, lower the arm. Repeat with the other arm. Continue for 6 to 10 breaths, enjoying the opening of the chest as the arm is lifted to the side.  Note: this exercise can be surprisingly tiring for the quadriceps femoris muscles (front thigh muscles).

THIRD EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
From the forward bend, with arms hanging downwards, bend your knees until you can place your palms on the floor while still keeping your spine long and straight. 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. From here move onto your back (i.e. roll over to lie on your back) and bring your knees to your chest. Leave the knees relaxed close to the chest.  Inhaling, straighten one leg just enough to bring the lower leg to vertical above the knee (which is still alongside the other knee). Exhaling, relax the leg back to the fully flexed position. Repeat with the other leg. Continue for 6 to 10 more breaths enjoying slow movements and the gentle smooth flow of breath.

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 that you are lying in a rowing boat which has lots of duvets, blankets and cushions lining it - and you are lying in middle of this soft comfort. Feel yourself relaxing and snuggling down into this soft comfort and feel it gently fold around you as though gently hugging you. The day is beautiful - calm and not too sunny or too hot. And the dinghy you are in is gently drifting a smooth, peaceful lake. Everything is peaceful, calm and restful. Stillness and peace.
When it is time to finish the relaxation, thank the boat and the soft duvets, blankets and cushions and the lake and then remember that you are in fact lying on the ground and become aware of your breath.
Remember not to rush sitting up (and then standing) after practising relaxation as it causes the blood pressure to fall, which can cause dizziness if one moves too quickly.