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10-MIN YOGA SESSION BASED AROUND A STANDING FORWARD BEND    ( 7 ) 

Uttanasana Session 7 Image
FIRST EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana with feet hip-width apart, parallel and pointing forwards. Step one foot forwards a comfortable distance – that is not so far that you need to allow the heel (of the back leg) to lift off the mat or turn inwards for comfort. Check that your feet are still parallel and pointing forwards – if necessary, lift the back heel a little and replace so the back foot is pointing forwards (rather than out to one side). Have a sense of sinking the back heel into the ground and a slight sense of drawing the feet (against the ground) towards each other. Exhaling, bend the front knee a little until the knee is over the front foot (don’t bend the knee more than this) and, inhaling, slowly straighten the front leg. Repeat this knee bending 2 to 6 more times with the breath and then step back to Tadasana. Repeat to the other side. With practice you will find you can step the feet farther apart.
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 unnecessary 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 entry and main part of 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 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 fingertips touch the ground that is fine but not necessary (or, if easy, you can rest palms on mat). Exhaling, lift one arm backwards past the hips and as far towards vertical (pointing upwards) as is comfortable – watch your hand so that your head turns and look up at the hand when pointing upwards. Inhaling, lower your arm, retracing the movement past the hip to pointing down at the ground.. Repeat with the other arm. Continue for 6 to 10 breaths enjoying the gentle twisting of the trunk. Exit the pose by lowering the trunk to rest on the thighs and bring your hands to the floor (bending 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. n.b. this exercise can be surprisingly tiring for the quadriceps femoris muscles (front thigh muscles).
THIRD EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
From here move to lying on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Leave the knees relaxed close to the chest and lightly place your hands on your knees. Start a mental count of the length of your inhalation and exhalation – if you can, allow your exhalation to lengthen (or shorten) to become the same length as your inhalation. Inhaling, straighten one leg into the air but not so far that your hand is unable to stay in contact with it. 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: Passively allow the breath to flow in and out almost as though the Universe is breathing breath and life into you. Observe and enjoy – feeling and imagining each breath as a gift of life, joy and love from the universe. When it is time to finish the relaxation, thank the Universe for life, joy and love. 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.