Liza Skaria of Calgary AB shares more thoughts on the online intensive with Abhijata Iyengar, this time on the third day of the sessions…
The Dorso- Lumbar connection
17 JUNE 2020 ; 6pM- 8pM
As you can see from my date and time, I skipped day 3 as it was a Sunday. Which meant that I was at my sisters place with no space or props for a yoga class. I feel lucky that my car was parked all night and suffered no hail damage because that was an awful storm on Saturday night! So many people had damaged property. On top of everything else going on, these incidents are pretty difficult.
So I ended up doing this practice on Wednesday evening after a long but fruitful work day. All these hours of straining at the computer are taking a toll on my hips, groins, neck, shoulder …you name it.
I feel like through these classes we have had different parts of our body healed and restored through building an awareness, observation and connecting them. With no agenda at reaching a final shape but using the asana as a tool to exploration and breaking through body-mind barriers , once again I feel truly blessed to have Iyengar yoga in my life. It is so nice to have a teacher of such calibre lead us through this exploration and help us discover new connections and possibilities.
Today’s exploration was one on the connection between the upper arm and the shoulder area. And the dorso lumbar area.
Adho Mukha Virasana
- Walk the hands forward to facilitate length. Use a bolster for the chin to get further length in the arms.
Adho Mukha Svanasa
- Lengthen entire body
- Uttanasana – rest
- Repeat AMS
PART 1 – LEARNING THE UPPER ARM SHOULDER CONNECTION. ROLLING INNER UPPER ARM OUT TO OPEN SHOULDERS.
- Using two rolled eye bands under armpits, we learnt how much this area needs to lift. Also we learnt to roll upper inner arms to get the shoulder muscles to squeeze inward toward the spine.
- Then we removed the eye bandages to observe the space in our armpit and the lengthening of the arms that has happened
- Keeping that rolled bandage, we caught our elbows behind our back and observed how much the upper arm needs to turn out.
Ardha Uttanasana with belt at wrists
- Coming forward lift the arms up trying to keep shoulder blades in place. Remember not to over rotate. Inner face of elbows must have forward not outward.
Savasana with wrist belted
- Firstly, in a chatuspadasana position we get the arms under neath us with the arms in a belt. Then we lengthen the top shoulders away from ears and lie down on arms. Elbows must face up to ceiling – not turn outward. Stay here for 4-5 minutes to feel the release
- Lie on the right and completely unfold the upper arm by lengthening it out to remove any space between armpit and floor. Repeat this several times until the space disappears. Press down. Space is gone by lengthening the upper arm and keeping it that way even with bent elbow. Repeat on other side. This pose was like magic on my shoulders. What instant relief from my aching shoulders!
- Learn to press the entire palm, wrists and fingers, knuckles of both arms to each other equally.
- Repeat this in paschima namaskarasana (several times)
- Gomukhasana – first with just a lower arm position at wall to learn to roll inner arm out and get the forearm to the wall. Then do full pose
- Supported ardha parsvottanasana – head on bolster/ chair and repeat paschima namaskarasana
PART 2 – LEARNING TO MAKE DORSO LUMBAR AREA CONVEX TWISTS
- The dorso lumbar area tends to poke out , especially in twists. We need to learn to get that area in so that the shoulder goes down.
- On a side note, I noticed that I have a tendency to lower my head in many poses. A sign of whats going on in my head perhaps. I am looking forward to being at ease in life again like I know i’ve been in the past!! Working on it. But i realized that i can use my asana time these days, to let my body do the talking and the communicating while letting my mind come to a rest. Thats one way of meditating when the mind is going crazy!
Bharadvajasana on chair
- Sitting facing chair seat twist to right. Notice how dorso lumbar pops out. Work at getting that in. Notice the lengthening of the shoulder. We stayed here for longer than i normally do and I could really feel the heat coming up in me!
- Sit cross legged and twist. Sometimes in practice, make yourself tight in this pose (almost sitting on feet)so that with your twisted arm you can get hold of toes! I should try that.
- Same intention as the one on chair
- Twists are always confusing to me. I can never remember them well enough. Maybe a sign I need to practice them more?
- Again in this version, we attempted to hold the toe of the leg in padmasana. I could do it on the left foot easily and not on the other side. Need to play with that some more!
- The crowning pose in her sequences are usually a standing pose the imbibes the lessons learnt through all the explorations. Where we understand the entire relationship of the area being focused on.
- We did this pose twice. The first time she just taked about moving the dorso lumbar area of the lower arm side away from each other.
- The second time we actually maintained a strong contact between the shin of the front leg and the elbow of the arm against it strongly to create the fulcrum that helped this area spread away and go IN IN IN!!
- It really was that sweetness after a lot of work and I could twist with such ease.
- Understanding which area activates what is key to our practice. Sometimes we look at a pose and see its full effect elsewhere, but understanding its source is the way to a deeper practice.
PART 3 – MAINTAINING DORSO LUMBAR CONVEX IN INVERSION
- In Sirsasana observe this region and how you can continue to bring it forward and in. I could see a lot of discrepancy on left and right side. The left side felt loose and not engaged. More play time to understand this!!
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana on chair
- Take a chair and place a folded mat in front of it with a bolster on mat. Get shoulders and head on bolster as you would for normal set bandha. Then lift legs to chair and get feet to chair leg area allowing feet to hit out on either side. Lift buttocks. But more than buttocks learn to lift upper back area off the bolster as much as possible. Learn to roll the inner arms out. Learn to get dorso lumbar area in. What freedom! We repeated this a few times going in and relaxing and repeating.
PART 4 – PRANAYAMA WITH SAME DORSO LUMBAR, UPPER ARM OBSERVATION
Three fold blanket savasana
- Use this savasana to observe the length of the forearm in exhalation vs inhalation. In inhalation we tend to shorten the forearm. See if you can maintain the length.
- Same observation and also observe that the elbows dont flail out as you breathe.
- With no support and just observing the space in our back area . I felt so flat on the floor it was wonderful!
I admit that I was not as bubbly enough to do my best practice or observation. But I left feeling that deep recuperative feeling behind my eyes which is a treat for me as i often feel hardness here. And my shoulders felt wonderful, which is also probably why I feel so relaxed right now. Good to have this practice to go to when I need shoulder lengthening and work in this area!!