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Perfectly Flawed Yoga & Nutrition

When Science, spirituality & real life collide

Being Present; the best present

Posture of the week: "5 Gold Rings"; bow pose (dhanurasana)

In our online classes this week we have been continuing our work with the "12 postures of Christmas" & have enjoyed practicing our "turtle doves" & "French hens". A few people have practiced "A Partridge in a pear tree" at home, don't forget to send me your pictures!

Image 1: "5 gold rings"; dhanurasana or bow pose.

This week we are moving on to "5 Gold rings" otherwise known as bow pose or dhanurasana. This is a beautiful, strong back bend which stretches into the shoulders, quadriceps & hip flexors. We will also be continuing our work on mindfulness; mindful movement & breath awareness to link in with our theme of being present.

Please ensure you complete the following warm up asana to ensure that the lower back, legs & shoulders are thoroughly warmed to help prevent injury.

  1. If it is comfortable I invite you to lie in supta baddha konasana (cobblers pose, see image 2, picture 1), soles of the feet together, knees pressing out to the side. Have the palms facing the the sky & take your thumb & first finger together in chin mudra.

  2. Take a moment to notice the thoughts going through your mind, be aware of your emotions & notice how your body is feeling. Scan the body from head to toe, asking each area to release.

  3. Take your full awareness to your breath; spend a few minutes here. It's normal for the mind to want to wonder, notice anything that comes up & guide your awareness back to breath.

  4. Inhale & take the knees back together coming into semi supine. Make any mindful movements you'd like to make; ankle circles, pelvic tilts, pointing & flexing the toes, neck rolls - anything you'd like to do. Try to coordinate the movement with the breath & try to keep your full awareness onto the movement & the breath.

  5. As you inhale take the arms over head, as you exhale take the arms back into the side of the body. Do this at least six times & again, coordinate the breath breath with the movement & keep your full awareness here.

  6. Let the arms rest at the side of your body with the palms facing the sky. Take the knees hip distance apart, the knees & ankles in alignment. As you inhale start to lift into dwi pada pitham (bridge pose); peel the lower back up from the earth vertebrae by vertebrae, as you exhale slowly lower. Do a few rounds, lifting & lowering, ease out when you are ready. (See image 2 picture 2).

  7. Lift the right leg up towards the sky, flex the foot & hold around the back of the thigh. Draw the toes in towards the nose to stretch into the hamstring (supta padagusthasana, see image 2, picture 3). Ensure to soften your neck, shoulders & jaw & press your lower back into the earth. Hold for about 30 seconds & repeat on the left.

  8. Come into a comfortable seated position & ensure you are sitting onto the sit bones. Do any neck or shoulder stretches here. Image 2, picture 4 shows cows face pose (gomukhasana) for the arms. Take the right arm up overhead, rotate the shoulder so the palm faces the back of the room then reach the hand down the back of the shoulders. Take the left arm out to the side, in-line with the shoulder. Rotate the shoulder so the palm faces the back of the room then reach the hand up the back towards the shoulders. The two hands may meet; if the do you may claspe them. Use a yoga strap or dressing gown belt if needed. Repeat on the opposite side.

  9. Come onto all fours. Image 2, pictures 5 & 6 show majariasana (cat pose). As you inhale let your abdominals release, let your back dip & take the chin up. As you exhale pull the abdominals up & under, let the back arch & take the chin to the chest. Repeat a number of times.

Image 2: Picture 1: Supta baddha konasana. Picture 2: Dwi pada pitham. Picture 3: Supta padagusthasana. Picture 4: Gomukhasana. Pictures 5&6: Majariasana.

10. Come into downward facing dog (arda mukha svanasana). Take some mindful breaths here (see image 3, picture 1).

11. Transition into banarasana (low lunge, see image 2 picture 2). Step the right leg forward between the hands; knee & ankle in alignment as able. Make a tripod with the hands & lift the chest. Repeat on the opposite side transitioning into downward dog between sides.

12. Step the right leg underneath the hip to come in to uttanasana forward bend (see image 3, picture 3). Keep the knees soft. Fold up vertebrae by vertebrae on an inhale.

13. Reset into tadasana with the feet under the hips, slight softness in the knees, shoulders releasing. From here come in to a variation of dancer (natarajasana); a standing quadricep stretch (see image 3, picture 4). Lift the right heel in towards the bum. You may wish to use a wall for balance or a belt to reach the foot. Repeat on the left side & come back to tadasana.

14. Step the right foot back & turn out as comfortable. Bend the left knee. Inhale & reach the arms up. Lift the chin. Warrior 1 (virabhadrasana 1). See image 2 picture 5. Repeat on your left.

15. Transition down to prone by folding, with knees soft, into forward bend (hold), then walk the hands forward & come into downwards facing dog. Lower the knees & stretch out onto your front.

16. Take the elbows underneath the shoulders, forearms parallel on the pat. Inhale & lift into sphinx pose (salamba bhujangasana). Hold for a few breaths. (See image 3, picture 6). Exhale & lower.

17. If it feels good take the hands underneath the shoulders & inhale into cobra (bhujangasana). (See image 3, picture 6). Hold for a few breaths as comfortable, exhale & lower.

18. Lie on your front & draw the right heel in towards your buttocks. Reach back & hold the foot coming into half bow. Repeat on the opposite side.

19. If the above felt comfortable bend both knees & reach back (without twisting the torso) to reach the feet. Press the feet into the hands & hands into the feet to lift into dhanurasana. Hold for a few breaths as comfortable.

20. Release & lie onto your front with the head resting onto the earth. Release the legs out towards the corners of your mat & the arms out in front. You can rest the head to one side, then the other. Take some breaths. Rest the forehead onto the hands, bend the knees & make a "windscreen wiper" motion with the legs.

21. Push your bottom down onto your heels & stretch your arms in front coming into balasana childs pose. Take some breaths here.

22. Roll onto your back & ease out with any spinal twists/rocks/tilts needed.

23. Reset in semi-supine, arms into the sides of the body, palms up. Take the awareness to the breath. Spend at least 5 minutes here taking the full awareness to the breath.

Image 3: Picture 1: ardo mukha svanasana. Picture 2: Banarasana. PIcture 3: Uttanasana. PIcture 4: Quadricep strecth (dancer (natarajasana) variation). Picture 5: Virabhadrasana 1. Picture 6: Salamba bhujangasna. Picture 7. Bhujangasana

Don't forget to send me a picture of your "5 gold rings".


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