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Virasana Session 3
From the upright kneeling position, bring one leg forwards and place the foot on the ground in front of you. Place a yoga block, a couple of books or a thickly folded towel beside the foot that is still pointing backwards. Lower your buttocks backwards onto the padding so that your heel is just outside buttocks. Ideally, the pelvic girdle will be level and you may find you need to experiment a little with the height of the padding to achieve a pelvic girdle that does not tilt to one side. Rest your hands on the front of your front knee and gently pull them against the knee to help encourage your spine to elongate and straighten upwards. Arrange your hands so that the hand of the same side as the forward leg covers the other hand. Inhaling, straighten the arm (of the same side as the forward leg), then swing around to point sideways at shoulder level and, at the same time, turn your head to look along the length of the arm. Exhaling, rotate the shoulders about the axis of the spine so your arm and head end up pointing backward. Inhaling, unwind trunk, returning arm and head to pointing sideways. Exhaling, return the hand to covering the other hand and turn head to facing forwards. Repeat movement 2 to 3 more times. Lift your hips and trunk up to the one-foot-forwards kneeling position and then return the raised knee to the upright kneeling position. Repeat to the other side. With practice you will find this exercise becomes possible, and comfortable, with decreasing amounts of padding (height) under your buttocks.
From the upright kneeling position, place the same support used for the previous exercise between your feet. Make sure your toes point backwards, “tops” of feet rest on the floor and heels of feet are just wide enough apart to allow your buttocks to fit between them. Keeping your trunk long and essentially straight, lower your buttocks backwards to the support placed between your feet, using your hands to roll your calf muscles outwards (away from the thigh muscles). Adjust your trunk as appropriate to make it essentially vertical with the spine long. Keeping your toes pointing backwards, bring your knees together. Imagine the length between: the crown of the head and the end of the tailbone and also between the shoulder joints. Lift your arms to shoulder level with palms facing downwards. Bend your elbows so that they point downwards. Move the hands at the wrists, so that the palms first face sideways and then somewhat upwards with fingers drawn as much as possible to shoulders. Keeping the fingers drawn towards the shoulders, push the “heels” of the hands away from each other so the arms straighten – it is fine for the arms not to completely straighten, just go as far as feels comfortable. Hold for a few breaths. Then bend elbows, move hands at wrists to draw fingers down and then in towards armpits as possible and then press back of wrists away – and hold for a few breaths. Repeat the pressing away of hands with fingers drawn towards head/shoulders. Then lower arms. When you are ready to release, press through the lower legs to lift up into the upright kneeling position.
Lie on your back with your legs in a crooked position, palms resting on your abdomen. Exhaling, straighten one leg by pushing heel along the floor and, at the same time, move the hand of the same side to the floor beside your body, palm facing upwards. Inhaling, swing the arm, staying in contact with floor, to pointing away from feet and, at the same time, have a sense of elongating through the leg and out of the heel. Exhaling, swing the arm along the floor back to beside the body. Exhaling, draw the heel back to your buttocks, return the leg to the starting position and, at the same time, return the hand to the abdomen. Continue for 4 to 8 more breaths, enjoying slow movements and the gentle smooth flow of breath.
Lie down in a comfortable position and practise a relaxation method of your choice. You could try the following as a relaxation practice – allow your awareness to rest with a contact area with the floor for a little while, before moving your awareness to rest on another contact area – and so on. Remember not to rush sitting up and standing after practising relaxation as it causes the blood pressure to fall, which can cause dizziness if one moves too quickly.