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10-MIN YOGA SESSION BASED AROUND A STANDING FORWARD BEND    ( 6 ) 

Uttanasana Session 6 Image
FIRST EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana with feet hip-width apart, parallel and pointing forwards. Inhaling, lift one arm sideways until pointing overhead. Exhaling, imagine a sinking from the armpit of the lifted arm down the side of the trunk, through the hip and leg and down through the heel into the ground. Inhaling, lift the other arm up sideways and use the hand to grasp the wrist of the other arm. Exhaling, imagine a sinking from the armpit of the first arm that was lifted, down the side of the trunk, through the hip and leg and down through the heel into the ground. Inhaling, imagine an elongation on the same side, starting from the hip, up through the side of the trunk, through the shoulder, arm, hands and through the fingertips towards the “heavens”. Continue this breathing for 2 to 6 breaths, then let go of the wrist and lower both arms sideways while exhaling. Repeat to the other side.

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 pelvis 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 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. 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. Bend your knees enough to enable you to bring your trunk to the horizontal position. While inhaling, swing one arm in the same plane of your trunk (i.e. sideways relative to the trunk) until pointing overhead (or as far as feels comfortable). Exhaling, swing the arm back via the same route to bring the hand back to where it was on your back. Repeat with the other arms. Continue for 4 to 10 breaths, taking care to maintain the shape and position of your spine – the hand that is left on your back will help give you feedback on this. Exit the pose either by lifting your trunk very slowly back up to vertical or lower it to rest on the 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 – walk your hands forwards to bring your knees to the floor. Note: this exercise can be surprisingly tiring for the quadriceps femoris muscles (front thigh muscles).

THIRD EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Lie on your front with your chin tucked in so your forhead rests on your mat (or hands or a folded bit of towel). Have your arms in a comfortable position (e.g. by your sides is fine, or folded so your forehead can rest on them). Exhaling, bend one knee so the heel moves towards your buttock; inhaling, return the lower leg back to the mat. Repeat with the other leg. Continue for 6 to 10 more 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: Listen to the external sounds around you without trying to identify them – just allow your mind to rest on one sound, passively observing the sound sensations and allowing your mind to move on to another sound when it wishes. Start with the loudest sound, and allow your mind to drift into listening to quieter and quieter sounds. When it is time to finish the relaxation, thank the sounds and become aware of your breath. 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.