more posing

Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana

By now our spine is warmed up but this posture tries to stretch the upper spine while compressing the lower spine. Lying on our stomach, we put our hands beneath our shoulders with our pinky fingers aligned with the outside of our biceps. Taking a big breath we lift our shoulders off the ground using our lower back. We keep our hands, thighs and feet flat on the floor. We lift up trying to look at the ceiling while dropping our elbows to the floor and keeping our arms tight against our body. We hold this pose for 30 seconds before taking a 20 second Savasna and repeating this pose for 30 seconds. ‘You go where you look,’ so try to look at your eyebrows as you look at the ceiling to help you stretch farther and deeper.

Locust Pose or Salabhasana

Lying on our stomach we place our hands face down beneath our thighs and spread our fingers open. With our gaze forward we use our lower back to lift our right leg at a 45-degree angle relative to the ground. Our left leg should be nearly limp and we shift our weight forward onto our shoulders and put the rest of our weight in our hands. After 30 seconds we repeat this posture using our left leg. After that we put our face down so we are kissing our towel, align our pinkies so they are touching side-by-side near our crotch and spread our fingers wide. Keeping our feet together we take a deep breath, shift our weight forward to our shoulders and lift our legs off the ground. We need to keep our legs together as if we have only one leg that we are pointing at a 45-degree angle with the ground as we try to touch the back wall with our feet. Remember to take small sips of air while in this posture and go as high as we can hold for 30 seconds. I enjoy this posture very much but it is difficult to breath with your mouth on your towel. I had a breakthrough with this posture last night but raising my legs slightly below my maximum height but holding the posture perfectly for the entire 30 seconds. Next we repeat all three postures for the same time.

Full Locust Pose or Poorna-Salabhasana

We start Full Locust Pose by lying on our stomach and spreading your arms out by your side. You might have to move up or down to avoid contacting your Bikram neighbors. Taking a deep breath we keep our legs together and raise our legs and arms off the ground while trying to look up at the ceiling. Ideally, we would curl our body so that only our bellybutton was touching the ground. We keep our hands at the same height as our head and we again try to curl our back and look at the ceiling. We hold the pose for 30 seconds before resting and repeating this posture for another 30 seconds.

Bow Pose or Dhanurasana

Lying on our stomach we lift our legs up and reach back and grab our ankles from the outside. Taking a deep breath we place our knees six inches apart, kick our legs back, lock our arms and raise our chest off the ground. It is imperative that you use your legs to kick up and not your arms to pull you up. The harder you kick the more your chest will rise off the ground. It is important to roll your shoulders down and keep your knees six inches apart as your legs will start to splay open. We try to lift our body off the floor leaving only our bellybutton on the ground. This pose stretches the inside of your body while compressing the exterior of your body. This is a beautiful pose when done right and with the benefit of using your legs; you can look at the ceiling with ease. I used to struggle with getting into this pose but found it is easier if I grab one ankle followed by the other ankle instead of trying to grab both ankles at the same time. Additionally, I have learned to come out of the pose slowly to avoid causing any undue injuries. We stretch our spine from head to toe and hold this pose for 30 seconds before repeating this pose.

Fixed Firm Pose or Supta-Vajrasana

We go from lying on our stomach to sitting up, which can cause a rush of blood to the head, followed by dizziness and nausea that will pass in time. With our shins on the ground, our knees slightly splayed, we sit on our heels, drop our right elbow back, followed by our left elbow until our spine is flat on the ground. It is important that we keep our knees and elbows on the ground, our butt on our heels and our gaze running across our chest making a slightly choking sensation. If you feel comfortable in the pose try moving your knees closer together. We hold this pose for 30 seconds before Savasnaing and repeating the pose for another 30 seconds.

Half Tortoise Pose or Ardha-Kurmasana

Sitting on our shins with our knees together, we rest our butt on our heels and place our hands in prayer over our head. We stretch up like we are trying to touch the ceiling and begin falling forward. Keeping our butt on our heels we let our forehead hit the floor first followed by our pinkie fingers, which remain in prayer position. This pose spreads our hips open, stretches our spine and our arms as we push our hands forward. We breathe slowly with our chin away from your chest and our nose scratching our towel. This is a relaxing pose for me but I have problems stretching forward and maintaining my hips on my heels. I feel that I have a lot of room for improvement in this posture but will continue working at finding a difficult place within the posture.

Camel Pose or Ustrasana

Camel Pose can also cause a sensation of lightheadedness as we move from a sitting position to a standing position. This is especially true as we rarely bend our back in the opposite direction, which is uncomfortable to put it mildly. While this posture used to give me a lot of trouble I have found that with practice I can not only do this posture but I can perform this posture with ease and good form. We start by standing on our knees keeping our knees and feet six inches apart. We put our hands on our lower back and with our thumbs facing out we bend backwards. After a few seconds we put our right hand on our right heel and our left hand on our left heel. At this point we fall back, look back and go back to form a capital D shape when viewed from the side. We hold this pose for 30 seconds before resting and repeating. During the second posture we move our knees eight inches apart but maintain six inches between our feet. This posture stretches our interior while compressed our exterior.

Rabbit Pose or Sasangasana

I made a breakthrough with this pose the other day and I had inadvertently been doing the pose wrong since I started. We start by sitting in the middle of the mat and wrapping our towel around our heels. Then we sit on our heels, take a deep breath, grab our towel and heels from the outside and drop our head to our chest while looking at our bellybutton. We fall down until our head hits our knees and we roll forward until the top of our head lands on our towel. With most of our weight supported by our arms, we pull our arms back and stretch our spine up to the ceiling. Keeping our stomach sucked in we try to raise our forehead higher on our thighs, lifting our spine up higher and continue breathing slowly despite our nose being stuck in our sweaty crotch. We hold this pose for 45 seconds, although it feels like eternity, before we Savasna and repeat the posture.