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Working towards Urdhva Dhanurasana after stent surgery

Sheri Berkowitz (Victoria BC) participated in the recent ‘target pose’ online community practice.  She describes for us how she adapted her practice to work towards Urdhva Dhanurasana after recently undergoing stent surgery.

I have found that people, even when long time practitioners, can be frightened to do things after they have had surgery or another medical procedure. To me, it is just the reality of life, and I think it could be helpful to share my experience as an ‘old timer’ with the community… It may help someone feel better or be encouraged to move forward when they have their own difficulties.

For today’s practice working towards Urdhva Dhanusrasana, two weeks after stent placement, I wanted to ensure that I didn’t overreach my capacity. I wanted to keep very attentive to the experience and what each asana was contributing to a) keeping my torso elongated, b) keeping my chest lifted and broadened, and c) working towards the backbend expression best for me today.

1) Tadasana with Urdhva Hastasana – Done facing and close to the wall, hands on the wall, forehead resting.  I deepened the pressure into my heels as I kept lifting my arms and hands.

2) Rope 1 – Simply done. First with the rope at my front shoulders, then at the elbows. I began with lifted heels, making sure that I elongated and lifted my chest well before lowering my heels. Repeated.

3) Utthita Trikonasana – Done along the wall with my back heel touching the wall. I used the upper rope for the lifted arm to open my chest, with the lower hand supported on a block in its highest position. I kept the legs active then used the rope to open and lift my chest.  I found this to be a perfect active/supported balance.

4) Prasarita Padottanasana – I stretched my hands forward, working the upper thighs to stabilize and then lengthen my torso. I continued a long, easy stretch paying attention to elongation of my spine. I then continued into the Urdhva position.

5) Adho Mukha Svanasana – Done with crossed-over ropes and a bolster for the forehead. After being passive for a while, I quietly activated both arms and legs to gently deepen and support the elongation.

6&7) Sirsasana – Done in the sling.  This was semi-active using the Baddha Konasana thighs pressing back to move forward at the pelvis and counteracted with slightly lifting Baddha Hastasana arms to bring elongation and length in the spine. That was on/off, rest/activate. When releasing this, with the sling placed at my armpit level and standing on my feet, it created an excellent upper back supported backbend.

8&9) Parsvottanasana – I put my heel into the wall. I discovered that if I held the lower ropes and used them to move forward, I could elongate through the torso while drawing the hip of the forward leg back. I brought my hands down to high blocks one at a time. Then, stepping the back leg forward and moving the blocks forward to under the shoulders, I brought the back leg up with the foot to the wall in a modified Virabhadrasana lll. This was a very supported way to strengthen and lengthen.

10) Bharadvajasana – Done on the chair, keeping the spine long.  Repeated.

11) Adho Mukha Svanasana and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Done using the chair seat. Three repetitions, slowly.

12) Bharadvajasana – Done on the chair, this time letting the pelvis turn with the spine. I found this very releasing.

13) Working towards back bends on the chair.

14) Urdhva Dhanurasana – Done over an exercise ball, with hands to the wall. Note: The last time I was in Pune, Geeta had me doing Virabhadrasana I over the ball using ceiling ropes. I have a ball and have experimented with it. My spine is pretty stiff and this is the safest and most even opening for me. It is tremendously supportive and I can gently push up from it.

15) Heart opening – Done lying over blocks, one at the second height, running spine-wise, and the other at the highest level for the head.

16) Supported twist – Sitting with legs in Bharadvajasana, with the Parsva side supported on a bolster. Repeated twice on each side.

17) Supta Baddha Konasana – With a long hold.

18) Savasana – With the group!

Thanks to both Leslie (Hogya) and Sarah (Bertucci) for hosting this community event. Whether guided or on my own, I so appreciate being in community.






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