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Virasana Session 5
From the upright kneeling position, bring one leg forwards and place the foot on the ground in front of you. You may need to place a support beside the foot that is still pointing backwards (behind your trunk). Lower your buttocks backwards so your heel is just outside buttocks. Ideally, the pelvic girdle will be level – adjust the height of the support you are using to achieve this. Rest your hands on the front of your front knee – gently pull your hands against the knee to help encourage your spine to elongate and straighten upwards. Then place the backs of your hands against your back (to give you stronger feedback on the shape of your back). Keeping your spine in current shape, straighten the forward leg forwards (as far as feels comfortable) and draw the top of the foot towards your head so the sole is vertical. Press down through the heel (not the knee) of the straight leg. Then lean the trunk as a whole (from the hips) as far forwards as feels easily comfortable without losing the length and straightness of the spine. Place your hands on your legs or feet – as far forwards as feels natural. Exhaling, rotate the shoulders and head about the axis of the spine to look towards the side of the bent leg; at the same time, move the arm of this side to beside the trunk. Inhaling, lift the arm to vertical and turn the head to look upwards. Exhaling, move the arm forwards and then downwards to return the hand to the leg/foot, allowing spine to unwind at the same time. Inhaling, imagine an expanding lengthening up the front of the trunk so that it slightly lifts and straightens. Repeat this rotation with the breath 2 to 4 more times. Lift the trunk up to vertical. 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 support used above between your feet. Make sure your toes point backwards, the “tops” of your feet rest on the floor (i.e. soles facing upward) and the heels of your feet are just wide enough apart to allow your buttocks to fit between them. Keeping your trunk long and essentially straight, lower buttocks backwards to the support between your feet – as you do so, use your hands to roll your calf muscles outwards (away from thigh muscles). Bring your knees together. Interlock hands behind back with palms facing upwards. Roll your shoulders backwards (squeezing shoulder blades together) and encourage your hands and shoulders to move downwards as much as you can. Inhaling, direct your breath into chest, encouraging it to expands forwards; then, exhaling, imagine the breath leaving the back of the chest, enabling the shoulders to roll back and down a bit more – at this point the spine is in a back–bend. Now consciously encourage your tailbone to sink downwards until the back of your pelvic girdle is vertical – having a sense of pressing down through the shins will help with this. Hold for several breaths. When you are ready to release, press through the lower legs to lift up into the upright kneeling position.
Lie on your back, legs in crooked position, palms resting on upper abdomen. Straighten your arms, taking backs of hands to floor. Exhaling, bring a knee to your chest, at the same time rolling arms inwards at the shoulders so palms face floor. Inhaling, return foot to floor (beside other foot) and at the same time roll arms outwards. Exhaling, straighten the same leg along the floor and at the same time bend elbows to bring palms to upper abdomen. Inhaling, slide the heel of the straight leg back to the buttocks (beside the other foot) and, at the same time, straighten arms, returning backs of hands to the floor. Repeat to the other side. Repeat 2 to 4 more times to each side. 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 – imagine a glowing ball of a colour (say orange) which gradually glows more brightly while inhaling and more dimly while exhaling. 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.