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10-MIN YOGA SESSION BASED AROUND A STANDING FORWARD BEND    ( 8 ) 

Uttanasana Session 8 Image
FIRST EXERCISE OF SESSION (2 minutes)
Stand in Tadasana with your feet hip-width apart, parallel and pointing forwards. Lift your arms sideways until your arms are at shoulder level. Bend the arms at the elbows so that forearms and hands point upwards and palms face forwards (with elbows still at shoulder-level). At the same time as exhaling and swinging the arms forwards to bring the elbows (and hands) together, lift one knee as high as is comfortable allowing the knee to bend as it lifts. Inhaling, swing the arms back to the sideways position and return the lifted foot next to the other one. Repeat 4 to 8 times, alternating which leg you lift while inhaling.

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 pelvis 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 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 the 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 sufficient 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 both arms sideways to shoulder level (so that the arms end up in the plane of your trunk, pointing away from each other) and, exhaling, lower the arms. Continue for 6 to 10 breaths. Exit the pose by lowering the trunk 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 forehead rests on your mat (or a folded bit of towel). Have your arms comfortably resting by your sides. Exhaling, bend both knees so the heels move towards your buttocks: inhaling, return the lower legs back to the mat.. 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: Imagine you are lying in a very warm, beautiful place outside – lying on some wonderfully soft moss which you enjoy sinking down into as you let the warmth of the place seep into you and you relax. It begins to rain and the rain is wonderfully warm, soft and clean – enjoy the feeling of the rain on your skin – warm, relaxing and cleansing. Imagine you can invite the rain to flow into you and through you and feel the rain gently flow into you, gently warming, relaxing and cleansing every part of you that you invite the rain to touch. Feel and imagine the spaciousness and freedom for movement, expression and creativity left behind as the rain washes away unhelpful tensions, worry and emotional grit. Enjoy. The rain stops, leaving you feeling cleansed and refreshed – pause and enjoy the feeling. When it is time to finish the relaxation, thank the place, the soft moss and the rain and then remember 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 one’s blood pressure to fall, which can cause dizziness if one moves too quickly.