‘In the midst of winter i found there was within me an invincible summer’ Albert Camus
For most of us, winter is a time to nourish. A time to protect the body from the elements, a time of peace and quite. Physically in winter we can all feel the shoulders get a little closer to the ears, and wrap towards the frontal plane of the body protecting the heart. About once a week in the winter, i crave a front body practice. A practice where i open the shoulders, expose the chest, stretch the fronts of the thighs and expand the parts of my body that naturally want to be hidden.
Now, backbends offer an interesting encounter with aparigraha, the attitude that is described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s as the ability to accept only what is appropriate. Since they are naturally energizing in nature, they can be slightly addictive. We do one backbend and naturally want a little more. When we practice we must make a conscious choice to move into these postures with safety and alignment and to see the value of holding back. We must value the primary function of the pose- the deep opening- more than the final shape or form of the posture. If you are new to the practice or feeling tension in the shoulders today, try opening up with some shoulder flossing first. This sequence is designed for intermediate yoga students.
Surya Namaskara A X 3
Surya Namaskara B X 2
Cobra (bhugangasana), Upward facing dog (Urdhva Muhka Svanasana), Supine 1/2 Frog Quad Stretch on both sides
Key alignment for this series:
Spine: Maintain length in the spine toning the naval and lengthening through the top of head
Pelvis: Scoop the tailbone down without clenching the glutes. This will help to maintain space through the lumbar band of support as well as bring the stretch into the iliopsoas (our major hip flexor at the front of the thigh)
Torso: Keep the upper ribs gently drawing in
Shoulders: Draw the blades of the shoulders flat to the back and keep them sliding down towards the hips
Let your breath be expansive.
Radiate energy from the center of your heart out through your skin.
Be honest and move honouring Aparigraha.
Create space, because don’t we all need just a little less clutter.