Spring is here and in spite of the on-going human drama, daffodils are in bloom, birds are chirping away, days are getting brighter and the earth is slowly warming up.
I don’t know about you, but I have an urge to inhale the spring air deeply and to spend more time outdoors in nature. I tend to lean toward chest – opening backbending practices at the moment as that is what my body and mind are asking for.
I have put together a simple uplifting sequence, consisting of some standing work, small backbends and a couple of twists. Please take the sequence as an inspiration and feel free to expand on it as you wish.
(Please note that backbending poses are not meant for complete beginners. )
be calm, be healthy, be happy!
Stand near the wall in tadasana. Bend your right knee, hold it with the right hand and lift it as high as you can, pressing it against the opposite thigh. Be even on your standing foot. Focus on a point in front of your eyes and raise your arms overhead. Do not join the hands together, unless your elbows are straight. Instead, keep lifting through the arms. Use the wall for balance if you need it. Stay for about 30sec, then change sides.
Press your fingertips against the wall – they should be shoulder-width and hip-high. Step your feet back until your heels are below your hips. Make the legs firm by pulling up the knee-cups and pushing the middle of the thighs back. As you press the fingertips against the wall, lenghten the sides of the body away from the wall, creating as much space as possible in your spine. Breathe.
PARSVOTTANASANA – stage 1
Press your fingertips shoulder-high against the wall and step your right foot up the wall. Step the left foot well back. Align the hips with the wall. Right hip back – left hip forward. Imagine a mirror in front in which you see your hips levelled. Firm both legs by pulling the knee-cups up. Grip the hips toward each other. Lift from the groin up. Move your shoulder blades in. Breathe. Change sides.
PARSVOTTANASANA – stage 2
Press your left heel against the wall, step the right foot forward. Align the hips. Right hip forward – left hip back. Push the back heel against the wall. Firm both legs and grip the hips toward each other. Start lifting from the groin up. Interlock the fingers behind your back and extend down, then away from the body, through the fingers. The head will easily go back if the whole spine is extending from the base. Do not force. Breathe. Retreat on the other side.
PARSVOTTANASANA – stage 3
Fingertips hip- high and shoulder-width by the wall. Step your left foot well back, turning the left heel in slightly. Adjust your distance from the wall, so that both legs are straight and you can fully extend, opening the armpits. Feel the length along the sides of the body. Both legs should be firm and strong. Breathe and enjoy the space you are creating in your spine. Change legs.
PARIGHASANA – gate
Kneel down and align the knees with the front of the mat. Measure your distance from the wall. With right foot at the wall, left knee should be slightly wider than the left hip. Straighten your right leg, take the foot up the wall. Pull up the knee-cup, rotate the tigh from inside out. Stretch the arms out to the side, lenghten the sides and extend toward the wall. Rest the right hand, palm up, on your shin and slide it down. Reach the left fingers against the wall. If you can reach the wall, press against it and turn the trunk up away from the wall. Enjoy the intense side stretch, then turn around for the other side.
Lie down on your front, away from the wall. Start with your feet hip-width apart and toes tucked under. Extend back through the heels. Straighten the legs, so that the knees come off the floor. Tuck the tailbone in. Now lift the legs and the arms and upper body off the floor. Lift the hands up higher so that the shoulder blades move in more. Breathe. Retreat 3 times.
BUJANGASANA – cobra
Lie on your front with the feet together; toes pointing back. Hands are by the sides of the shoulders. Press the groins and the feet into the floor. Repeat 3 times
Stage 1 – lift up without pressing the hands down, only use the back muscles to lift you.
Stage 2 – as before, than start pressing the hands down but don’t lift the shoulders.
Stage 3 – as before, slide the hands forward slightly and go higher still.
DHANURASANA – bow
Bend your knees and hold the ankles. Feet are hip-width. Notice how the groins want to lift and press them down (the lumbar spine lenghtens). Push the shins and the ankles back away from you and lift the knees up. Balance these two actions, allowing the legs to lift your upper body. Do not bend the arms. Rest and repeat 3 times.
BARADWAJASANA 1 – chair
Any chair with a back on it will do.
Sit on the chair sidewayswith feet hip-width and in line. Be upright. Open the chest. Breathe in and as you breathe out, turn toward the back of the chair. Pull with one hand, push with the other to help you turn the spine, work with the breath. Keep the hips levelled. Turn to the other side and repeat.
BARADWAJASANA 1 – floor
Sit on 2 blocks. Legs are extended straight in front and together. Bend both knees and bring both feet to the left side. Right foot is on the bottom, left foot on top. See that the weight is even on both buttocks. If not, put an extra blanket under your right buttock. Lift the chest and turn to the right. Keep lifting with the inhale and turning more with the exhale. Change sides.
PASHIMOTTANASANA – resting
Sit down with the feet hip-width apart. Sit on a blanket or a block if your back is rounded. Press the fingers by your side and lift the chest up. Press the front thighs down and make sure to straighten the legs. Bend forward from the hips, go as far as your can with your back straight, concaving the upper back. Hold the sides of the feet (or a belt around the feet if you can’t reach). Rest the head on some blocks (if you can). Breathe. Stay for 1min or for as long as feels comfortable.
Make sure to leave at least 5min for your relaxation. Lie down with the body in a straight line. Use a blanket under your head if you need it. With each breath – let go. Let go of the past and let go of the future. Use each and every breath to draw you nearer into the present moment, where anxiety has no place and only tranquility prevails.