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10-MIN YOGA SESSION BASED AROUND A STANDING FORWARD BEND    ( 5 ) 

Uttanasana Session 5 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. Allow your shoulders to relax downwards. Let your arms relax. Exhaling, increase the tone in your abdomen (e.g. by imagining your heels or your tail-bone sinking downwards) and then try to maintain this tone throughout the exercise (to help keep the lower back long). While inhaling, rotate your upper arms outwards so that your shoulders roll backwards and your upper chest expands forwards. Hold this outward rotation of the upper arms (so that the shoulders stay rolled backwards and your upper chest stays lifted) while rotating your lower arms inwards to that your palms end up facing backwards. Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths. While holding, first focus on imagining the shoulders, arms and hands moving downwards. Then imagine your palms resting on a wall behind you and press them and your shoulders backwards into that wall and see if you can move the wall backwards. To release this exercise, first stop pressing your hands backwards, and then allow the shoulders and arms to relax.
SECOND EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana with 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 your bottom tucks in and under, and your lower back straightens and elongates - obviously 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 than the other 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 one that you should maintain throughout the entry and main part of this exercise. 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.  Exhaling, continue the flexion at the hips while keeping the spine essentially long and straight until, if comfortably possible, the trunk rests along the thighs (if your trunk won't lower this far, simply take the movement as far as comfortable). Inhaling and keeping the spine essentially long and straight, lift the trunk back to the horizontal position. Continue for 3 to 8 breaths and then exit by lowering your trunk to rest on your thighs and bring your hands to the floor (bending your knees sufficiently to allow this). Then allow your weight to tilt forwards from your heels (which lift off the floor) onto your hands - and then walk your hands forwards to bring your knees to the floor.
THIRD EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Lie on your front with your head turned to one side and your arms in a comfortable position. Bring your awareness to your lower back and observe the gentle movements that occur with your breath - particularly noting the relaxing sinking movements occurring with each exhalation. After 3 to 5 breaths turn your head to the other side and observe the breath movements for the same number of breaths.
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 of thanking your spine:-  Thank each part of the spine in turn, starting at the base of your spine with your tail-bone, the coccyx. Then your sacrum - which in combination with the pelvic girdle provides a stable base for the rest of the spine to rest on. Then there are the 5 lumbar vertebrae (in the lower back) - strong to support spine and trunk above, yet with the joints allowing freedom of movement and responding to contractions of the diaphragm. Then there are the 12 thoracic vertebrae which, along with the rib-cage, protect the heart and lungs and help with the expansion and contraction of the chest in breathing. Finally, there are the 7 cervical vertebrae connecting the trunk to the head, supporting the head and allowing movement so that you can turn or tilt your head. Thank your spine as a whole, for the support, freedom of movement and protection it gives you. Thank all of you bones for all they give you. 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.the blood pressure to fall, which can cause dizziness if one moves too quickly.