The Ashtanga Practice Artwork
Season 5 - Episode 12

Led Intermediate, Act 1

50 min - Practice


Dylan, with the help of Citrine, guides us through a dynamic practice that focuses on safe and intelligent backbending techniques. With an anatomical focus, we explore creating space between the collarbones, lengthening the spine, the rotation of thigh bones, and engagement of the gluts, abdominals, and bandhas.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

Jan 23, 2018
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Hello everyone, welcome. I'm so happy to be joined today by my friend Satrine. We'll take a look at some back bending technique and how we can best use the breath and anatomical awareness to give you comfort and freedom in these postures. First, let's all start together in Samastitihi, come to the top of your mat, feet together, the pelvis grounding deeply, exhaling completely, make sure that you're really grounded there, and then take one inhale, Ekam, as the chest expands, rise the arms up, see the thumbs meeting together above the head, and Dway, exhale, fold forward, dropping the head down, grounding the hands on the mat if that's available to you. Trini, inhale, float the chest forward with a long spine looking forward, and Chaturwadi, exhale, waiting for the breath to guide you to any Chaturanga variation that feels comfortable for you. Punch, inhale, the chest forward, the shoulders back, upward dog, shot, exhale, downward facing dog, lifting the hips to the back corner of the room. So from here, nice, long, full deep breathing with sound, trying to find your eyes settling one into one comfortable place, maybe it's your nose, your navel or your knee too. Always spreading the toes, spreading the fingers deeply so that you keep rooting through the index mound, as well as the big toe mound, three, and finding that you're also connecting to the extremities, to the hands and feet to build that wonderful pyramid, lifting the hips, four, up towards the back corner of the room, exhaling completely, five, Sapta, inhale, step or jump the feet forward, look forward with your head up and long spine. Ashta, exhale, fold forward, drop the head, ground the palms. Nava, inhale, rising up the arms, floating on the breath, see the hands meet together, and exhale, Samastitihi. Now when you exhale in Samastitihi, making sure that the pelvis stays really grounded, ek, and inhale, lengthening the spine up, away from the pelvis. Dway, exhale, fold forward, ground the palms, see the nose, Trini, inhale, head up, looking forward, and Chaturwari, exhale, step or hop, any Chaturanga variation will do. Pancha, inhale, the chest forward, the shoulders rolling back and down. Shat, exhale, downward facing dog, looking for that stability here in downward dog, one. Still aware that every exhale empties out the lower abdomen, two. Maybe feeling even the lift through pelvic floor, so Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha create that real solid feeling at the very center of the body, three. So then every inhale finds the spine lengthening away from the grounded pelvis, four, and exhaling completely, five. Sapta, inhale, step or jump, the feet forward, head up. Ashta, exhale, fold forward, dropping the head. Nava, inhale, rising up, see the thumbs meeting together with strong legs. Exhale, Samastitihi, really grounding through the feet, grounding through the pelvis, great. Ekam, inhale, arms up and follow the sound of your breath. Dway, exhale. Trini, inhale, head up, collarbones broad, and Chaturari, exhale, jumping to Chaturanga, still making sure great the tailbone is grounding towards the heels. Pancha, inhale, the chest forward, and then up. Shat, exhale, lifting the hips to the back corner of the room in Adho Mukha Svanasana, downward facing dog. One, even here in down dog, seeing that your shoulders melt away from the ears. Two, by rotating the tricep forward to the face. Three, so just like Satri and the shoulders are really nice and relaxed. There's plenty of space between the ear. Four, and shoulder, and the head is hanging, dangling comfortably. Exhaling completely. Five, sapta, inhale, stepper, jump the feet forward, the head up, long spine. Ashta, exhale, and fold with the kneecaps, pulling up, strong legs. Nava, inhale, rising up, see your thumbs meeting together, and exhale, grounding back to Samastitihim. Surinamaskar B, Ekam, inhale, bend your knees, drop your pelvis low towards the earth, and then rise the spine, rise the arms, look up. Dwe exhale, fold forward, drop the head, and see your nose. Trini, inhale, the long spine, the head up, looking forward, and Chaturi, exhale, float on the breath with the tailbone pointing to the heels. Pancha, inhale, draw the center of the chest forward, and then up, upward facing dog, and shot, exhale, let the hips come towards the back corner of your room. Sapta, inhale, draw the right foot forward, the arms up, seeing your thumbs meet together, and ashta, exhale, fold forward, drop the hands where they were, the right foot back to Chaturanga, suspended there. Nava, inhale, upward facing dog. Dasha, exhale, downward facing dog. Ekarsha, inhale, the left foot forward, arms up, seeing your thumbs meet together, and dvarsha, exhaling the hands down, Chaturanga dandasana, suspended there with a strong udhyana, inhaling to upward facing dog, and Chaturgdasa, exhaling to downward facing dog. Long, smooth, fully breathing with sound. One, staying grounded through the pelvis. Two, so every exhale empties out the lower abdomen, finding udhyana bandha, deeply engaged. Three, and every inhale feels the length coming all the way through the spine, as the hips rise towards the back corner of the room. Four, the eyes steady and stable on one single drishti. Exhaling completely. Five, pancharsha, inhale, jump forward, head up.

Shorsha, exhale, fold forward and drop the head. Saptarsha, inhale, bending your knees, rise the hands up, see your thumbs meeting together, and exhale, samasthiti. One more, just riding the breath. Ekam, inhale. Dway, exhale. Trini, inhale. Chatwari, exhale. Pancha, inhale. Shat, exhale, fully in down dog, and then sapta. Inhale, the right foot forward. Ashta, exhale, chaturanga dandasana, strong udhyana. Nava, inhale, upward facing dog. Dasha, exhale, downward facing dog. Ekarsha, inhale, the left foot forward, heels in a line, arms up, see thumbs. Dvarsha, exhale, the hands down, chaturanga dandasana, strong udhyana, broad collarbones. Trayogdasha, inhale, chest forward, shoulders back. Chaturanga dasana, exhale, downward facing dog. Feeling the bandha. One, hearing your breath.

Two, letting your eyes stay stable on any single point. Maybe the nose, navel, or knee. Three, four, exhaling completely. Five, panjarsha, inhale, stepper, jump forward and head up. Shorsha, exhale, fold forward, drop the head. Saptarsha, inhale, bend your knees, the pelvis low and grounding the spine long, and exhale, samasthiti. Nava vinyasa, down to the mat and start with virasana, so ekimin, heel, arms up, see your thumbs. Dvay, exhale, fold forward, dropping the head. Trini and heel, head up, looking forward with the long spine. And chaturari, exhale, jump back to chaturanga dandasana, any variation. Punch and heel, upward facing. Shat, exhale, downward facing dog. And from there, virasana, inhale and put your knees onto the mat and just come to a sitting position. Great. So you certainly could be sitting on your heels if you like, or for many of us will want to, excuse me, put you on a block so that you can sit both sitting bones evenly down onto that block. And that can be a great place to be with the palms on the knees and feeling that your shoulders roll back. So you find that broad collarbone experience, a nice, natural, long length through the upper back. Now, if you're very flexible, you may separate your feet away from your sitting bones and sit your sitting bones down in between the heels if you like. Would you like to do that? Let's have Citrine do that. Great. You can stay on the block, of course, if you like, no problem either way.

And palms onto the knees with the broad collarbones, chest lifted. Now make sure, whether on the block or sitting down on the mat, that your lower back is grounding towards the mat, just like Citrine's here. She's got the great weight happening, that there's a great heaviness in her pelvis and that she's able to keep the sitting bones really grounded there so that every inhale still lengthens the spine, broadens the collarbone and floats breath to the top of the chest. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful work. Sorry. And so as we approach backbending, we want to understand that we're not just working only on the spine. The backbend will happen all the way from the hands and through the feet. So it'll happen through the quadriceps, through the big muscles on the fronts of the thighs. So it's great, you probably are already feeling some stretch through your quadriceps there, I hope. And that's going to help and assist your backbend so it won't pinch your spine so much. Staying in Virasana, if you can, modifying if you need to. Take your hands back to Prasarita C-like position, interlacing the fingers and straightening the arms so you really get that broad collarbone experience and hopefully then you can start to feel the ribs really separating from one another. And that'll be a great experience for you but you'll be tempted to go too far and let the tailbone kick out and have the lumbar spine and lordosis but avoid that just like Citrine's doing where she's able to point her tailbone down to the ground, feel both sitting bones grounded there. Great. And then from there we'll take on a twist still in Virasana. Again, if at home you're getting some pain for some reason you need to modify, feel free to block under or do an alternate twist but if Virasana is still working, take your left hand, put it over on your right knee and then use your right hand back behind you on the mat, tenting with the fingertips touching the mat or grounding through the palm if you like and then from there use both hands to ever so gently twist and look back behind you still with long full breath. Make sure and check in with yourself that both sitting bones are grounding evenly, that one hasn't lifted as you've twisted deeply and if you'd like if it's comfortable you could reach the hand in and you could take your left thigh with your right hand and that grabbing might help you to twist more deeply but just make sure that you're not hunching, you've always got that length through the entire spine as you twist looking back behind you and then inhale looking forward put both hands to the knees to find yourself back to the neutral position and exhale take your right hand to left knee and twist to the other side and again you can leave the hand behind you just tenting there as every inhale broadens the collarbones and lifts the chest and every exhale you feel that the pelvis really can ground onto the mat. You want to keep that grounding ability of the pelvis so that the spine is able to move without just re-aligning the hips, the hips stay in their integrity position there and then inhaling and looking forward and exhale from here slowly put the hands at the front of the mat and we'll let you gently and slowly on your own pace creep out of your Virasana posture and take downward facing dog right from there good take a few breaths and down dog just again letting the knees come back to their natural neutral lengthened and straight position and from here we'll do Navasana as up there you can inhale sit or jump forward and we'll raise the legs up straight any Navasana variation that you're doing is fine we just really want you to be able to find that you're working strong through the Bandha strong through the core the area in between the hips is strengthening great exhale cross the legs plant the hands down we'll just do one more inhale lift up and exhale sit down and do one more Navasana and just like Satrine's doing if you can with straight legs you're in in great position there to really work through the center of the body once the knees bend it becomes a different posture some of you may need to bend the knees but if you can approach a straight leg great right if you are bending the knees try to let that create establish the length through the spine wonderful straight spine is what you want to feel there and then exhale cross the legs plant the hands down and from here we'll Vinyasa inhale and lift up exhale step or jump back chaturanga inhale upward facing dog and exhale downward facing dog we'll take Anshala Basana now so inhale come forward like a high plank position and let's hold you in that high plank just a couple breaths to make sure that your tailbone's not sticking out doing a wonderful job of leveling off the pelvis like Satrine's doing here with a really strong Uddhiana her tailbone's pointing to her heels great take a nice full inhale there broadening the collarbone shoulders back and then exhale lower all the way down into the mat and as you come all the way down into the mat try to find that your pubic bones are actually actively pushing into the mat so that tipping of the tailbone's tailbones tucking of the tailbone actually encourages the pubic bones down into the mat and as you breathe there see that every exhale still empties out the lower abdomen and still rises Uddhiana Bandha towards the spine so with the pubic bones grounding and the ribs grounding the area in the very center of her abdomen then is doming upwards so you want to feel that at home in your practice you want to feel that there's a slight lift away from the mat happening through this between the ribs and between the grounding of the ribs and the grounding of the pubic bones Uddhiana Bandha is rising up and then keeping Uddhiana Bandha rising we'll take Anshala Basana A and she'll make the opposite concave position by bringing feet together and you at home inhale lift your feet lift your heels up and then lift your chest lift your shoulders and breathe so as you take this position you from the outside you can certainly see the bowing position of lifting the head lifting the heels but from the inside also important that you feel in between the grounding of the ribs and the grounding of the pubic bones Uddhiana is rising in the opposite convex position great and then exhale put your feet on the mat and bring your head down take a breath or two there so that position that we've done in Shala Basana is a wonderful backbend because you're only going to be able to go into spinal extension as much as you can actively do it so it's a real active backbend we'll do the opposite as well now into a passive backbend the sphinx position if it's comfortable you bring your elbows just under your shoulders if that already creates some pinching in lower back then your elbows would go more forward so that you wind up with less of an angle good now in sphinx tailbone still pointing towards the heels you've still got pubic bones grounding into the mat you've got the ribs grounding down on the mat so there's still that doming up of Uddhiana Bandha and now there should be no action in the musculature of the lower back your lumbar spine is great and relaxed it's wonderful and you want to try to feel that the upper back is what is opening here so satrine with her elbows on the mat and you at home with your elbows on the mat you want to feel your elbows pushing into the mat and then pull them back towards the hips and what's going to happen is your collarbones will broaden and the center of the chest will go forward and you'll really get more opening through the thoracic spine take a few breaths there good and then from there exhale and come down inhale your way to upward facing dog exhale to downward facing dog and taking a few breaths in downward facing dog and then exhaling completely and we'll come to a standing position so inhale jump your feet forward or step forward head up long spine and exhale fold into that forward fold your uttanasana inhale the head up only and from there exhale and stand tall into samastitihi back to your neutral standing position there good all right so as you know i like to avoid the extreme views on anything and i'm always looking for a middle way as we approach the back bends we'll want to know not only what the fronts of the thighs are doing are lengthening but we'll also want to be aware of the musculature on the back side the posterior of the body so what we're going to do is call upon your awareness of the biggest muscle in your body what is the biggest muscle in your body the biggest single muscle is your gluteus maximus the biggest muscle in your body is right here so satrine let me have you step back a little bit to the back of the mat good and i'll be here and then what we'll ask everyone to do is grounding through the left foot hopefully you're comfortable in one-legged balance if you need something to lean on that's fine too we're not going to take on a challenging yoga posture here we're just going to try to understand how we can choose how much to squeeze gluteus maximus in back bends some teachers will say everyone should squeeze gluteus maximus all the time some teachers will say everyone should relax gluteus maximus at all times my experience has been that both extremes can lead to trouble in some cases so i think for whom and when is the real critical matter here and we'll explore that later but for today just know that you can control when to squeeze gluteus maximus and when to relax it it should be easy to squeeze it actually that should be pretty easy it's the biggest muscle in your body you should find it quite easily so from standing if you're able to crunch your butt yes do that okay you can even use your hands make sure yes i'm able to do that probably you're able to do that at home some of you may be able to relax it let's see how well we can do that from the left foot grounding inhale bring your right leg up dorsiflex the foot so you're aware of where the rotation is in the thigh and then externally roll the thigh so you bring your heels in towards the middle and your toes way out to the side and then inhale here exhale as the foot drags down towards the opposite heel and then inhaling draw the heel back behind you so your hip goes into a big extension and use your right hand to feel the right gluteus maximus should be squeezing pretty deeply right good okay so inhale draw the foot forward now how about dorsiflexing the foot leaving it into a neutral position so just drawing the toes straight back the thigh is not rotated internally or externally and as you draw the heel back inhaling see if you still feel squeeze and gluteus maximus let the fingers explore your own gluteus maximus people at home there and then inhale draw the foot forward and rotate the foot in good so your toes are really going to point towards the middle your heels really kicking out to the side slow it down don't rush as you get to the middle place remind yourself i'm internally rotating really draw the toes in and draw the foot back behind you and maybe you can feel gluteus maximus there softening if you raise the heel so high that it tightens again drop the heel a little and remind yourself internal rotation good and then from there you can bring the foot down at home you should do the other side exploring what it's like seeing if you have some kind of control over gluteus maximus there and that should give you the opportunity then to choose how much you're going to squeeze gluteus maximus simply by controlling how much you're internally rotating and the position isn't what matters it's the intention to internally rotate that lets gluteus maximus release all right come on back to the top of the mat and we'll do a vinyasa down to seated ustrasana ekim inhale take arms up see your thumbs dwe exhale fold forward moving through the whole vinyasa by surfing your breath trini and heel head up looking forward chatvari exhale stepping or jumping back lowering down chaturanga panchain heel upward facing dog shot exhale downward facing dog and then it's up to inhale you can come onto your knees you can jump onto your knees or just put your knees down on the mat if you like and from there raise your hips up off of your heels and we won't do full ustrasana so don't reach back and take your heels we won't do that right now instead we'll see what we can learn by the journey towards ustrasana first we'll take our hands and put your left thumb over your right thumb the root of the thumbs over one another and then plug that in about four fingertips below your navel somewhere around the waistline the home site of udiana bandha from that position then you should be able to inhale and lengthen the spine up rolling the shoulders back and down and exhale feel that your thumbs really pull strongly into udiana and keep breathing there every exhale draws the belly in the thumbs help out and every inhale feels the chest open the shoulders roll back and you start to find that back bend through the upper thoracic spine already happening here without even reaching back for anything okay and then we'll change the hand position you can let that go take the heels of your palms put them onto the tops of your sacrum put the fingers facing down onto gluteus maximus and then do the same action where you inhale lift the chest roll the shoulders back and down and exhale tuck the tailbone down and let the hands assist as they gently push the gluteus maximus down towards the mat as well now again if you want to squeeze squeeze as much as feels good or comfortable if you'd like to relax internally rotating you should be able to feel without even moving but just the intention to internally rotate your thighs is going to help you relax gluteus maximus let the sensation be the guide if it doesn't feel good squeezing or relaxing you just choose to go the other way and find your middle path there good and then inhale and come on up and exhale go to child's pose let yourself come down with the hips towards the heels and the hands and head resting on the mat anywhere you're comfortable and let yourself really let the spine go back to its neutral and natural position there take some deep full breath check in with the lower back hopefully everything that i've asked you to do and that you've done has been nourishing and instructive for the spine and it's not injurious we're not asking you to hurt yourself here in any way and then raise the hands to the front corner of the mat spread your fingers hold your thumbs back and we'll take you to chaturanga dandasana so inhale lift your hips up and exhale step or hop back chaturanga inhaling to upward facing and exhaling to downward facing dog now we'll start to work on urdvadana rasana the standard backband upward facing bow itself it's up to inhale jump through and with straight legs sit down you can step to the mat however you like and at home you're going to exhale and lie down on your back with straight legs lie down good and then satrine let me have you change position so they get an even better angle on you thanks great and then from here what we want to do is be able to take your lumbar spine and imprint it on the mat so you want to feel that all five-year lumbar vertebrae your lower back is pushing down into the mat so again that's just that tucking the tailbone under as if the pubic bones were reaching forward it'll help to bend your knees so bend your knees and bring your feet flat on the floor and from there it should be easy to imprint the lower back onto the mat now here's the trick we want you to keep your lower back imprinted on the mat let's have you put your arms up to the side good and keeping the lower back imprinting on the mat be able to lift the hips and lift the sacrum up right so it's very subtle the lower back's down the hips are just up but i should be able to reach and feel all right i'm her hips are up off the mat there and her lumbar spine there's no space between lumbar spine and the mat right so she's imprinting there now i want you to keep breathing and keep that position the whole time it should feel like a real extended or exaggerated udiana tuck under keeping that see if you can keep breathing and take your left leg and keeping the thigh where it is simply straighten at the knee and raise the foot up and keep breathing there right lumbar spine imprinting and hips off the mat take another inhale and exhale put the foot down keeping the hips up lumbar spine down and with your next inhale straighten the other leg straighten your right leg and you should feel some activity in the lower abdomen that you're asking musculature to be engaged and keep you strong that will help and then exhale put that foot down and then from here we'll take a very modified bridge position so still keeping the hips off the mat exhale completely and with the inhale let the tailbone journey towards the knees let the lumbar spine rise up off the mat let the thoracic spine rise up off the mat and feel how it is to have that arch coming through the entire length of spine and then you can reach your hands under the sacrum interlacing fingers rolling the shoulders under more deeply should help to really find the area between the shoulder blades actively lifting up great good and then from that position if you want to keep your elbows grounded you could choose to let your hands come up and perhaps you could take the pelvis into your hands wonderful and then from there now you're able to support the pelvis through the arms and as well the fingers can feel what's going on in gluteus maximus so you can feel if you're really clenching and squeezing and you'd like to make it more soft more subtle internally rotate the thighs as if you were trying to bring your knees closer together and maybe the fingers will be able to feel that great take one more full deep breath there and then exhale and bring your pelvis on down to the mat come on down and take a few breaths there if you want to keep doing those supported bridge postures at home feel free or if you're ready to take on urdhva dhanarasana you can bring the hands behind the shoulders keeping fingers really spread and with toes really spread grounding through the root knuckles big toe mound is down and your index finger mound is down great uh fingers are spread and there's still the thighs rolling in towards each other so the knees come close and the elbows want to stay close as well exhale completely find udhyana and then inhale gently bring the hips up the low back up and the upper back even up off the mat find your full urdhva dhanarasana here long smooth breathing with sound one now i really want you to make sure that you're still breathing in urdhva dhanarasana too if at any point the breath feels contracted or it loses its smooth integrity three then you come down take rest find your breath before the posture four take one more full deep breath exhaling completely five and then exhale and come down on the mat when you're ready letting your shoulders come down and the whole body coming down into the mat take a few breaths of rest we'll come up once more exhaling completely to find the bundas and then pause begin to inhale from the floor and ride the inhale up wonderful so let the breath fill the breathing area let that help to float you up and forward as you come into the full urdhva dhanarasana nice long breathing with sound here and you can see how this arch creates space through the entire spine as her tailbone points towards her heels her hips move away from her chest and at the same time the center of her chest opens the inhales drawing that length through the spine and her chest moves away from her hips so there's space coming in between all the vertebrae still with that wonderful smooth deep breathing with sound take one more full deep breath here and then exhale and come on down great so from here if you'd like you can take your knees into your chest and do a little rolling around however feels comfortable you might roll forward and back or side to side and then take a vinyasa so roll yourself up whenever you're ready on your own breath follow your breath through the vinyasa position see that bunda stays strong see that upward facing dog still feels good with good integrity and length through the arch of the spine and exhale to downward facing dog and we'll come to a standing position so inhale jumping your feet forward with the head up long spine look forward exhale and fold drop the head down inhale the head up only and exhale just take yourself to samastitihi and we'll get a chance to work a bit on the wall here so maybe satrine we'll have you spin around and you can use that wall great thank you so before we even take the wall remember what we did in the ustrasana prep position where we stacked the meaty mounds of our thumb over one another let's go ahead and do that and then plug the thumbs just below the the navel maybe four fingertips below the navel and from the standing position spread your toes find the root knuckles of the big toe mound grounding deeply and with the inhale rise the chest up through the shoulders and with the exhale make sure the tailbone tucks the palms pull into udiyana inhaling the chest lifts exhaling the tailbone and bunda's ground good and keep breathing inhaling she finds that wonderful length in her spine shoulders back and exhale the bunda really strong so we're not even going back but you're just finding inhale to figure the length through the spine wonderful and exhale to keep that grounding feeling through the bunda through the thighs through the feet grounding into the mat okay you can release great now we'll take that same idea and the same work on the breath as we start to drop back only into the wall i guess if you're really familiar with full drop backs you might be doing those on your own but here we want to be able to teach you how to do a very simplified drop back now a lot of times when people get to the wall they'll start trying to put their hands down and climb up and climb down the wall spider-man style we don't need to do that instead i want you to learn to use the breath so from your from find a wall that you can use hopefully you have one at home and how far away should we be about an arm's length is usually a good safe comfortable distance to start and then inhale find the breath lengthening the chest upwards and as you exhale reach the hands back and see if the hands can find the wall behind you they don't need to go particularly deep and take a few breaths there good so without walking the hands up or down just there's fine exhale completely and then with your inhale push the arm straight off the wall and bring yourself back up to standing exhaling the hands down great so we'll do some work here and instead of thinking about the physical body working try to work through the breath inhale raise the chest up exhale grounding the pelvis reaching the hands back and take the wall and then inhale lengthen the arms come up on the inhale and exhale the hands back to the side when you're ready do your next one inhale the chest long collarbones broad exhale reach back take the wall exhaling completely and inhale come up and exhale hands to the side so now if you're feeling comfortable those feel super super easy you might be hanging a bit more in space and then letting the hands drop to a lower position on the wall not to say that you're going to walk the hands down more deeply but that you're going to keep yourself suspended more and then let the arms come down a little bit lower same breath count same movements if it feels pinchy or uncomfortable tense or pressure on lower back that's fine you've done enough take a child's pose or relax we're not trying to get you to do drop back today we're trying to get you to give get techniques that then you'll be able to approach drop back comfortably safely for the rest of your practice time okay great so Satrine we'll have you demo one a little lower exhale completely everyone together inhale lengthen the chest collarbones broad exhale here really find a tailbone grounding deeply and with your inhale rise the arms up and then exhaling start to reach back and look to bring the hands a little lower on the wall great and then inhale straight arms push the pelvis forward strong legs and stand up great do one more inhale up exhale reach back take the wall wherever it's comfortable for you and inhale straight arms pelvis forward strong legs up so really use those inhales to come up great thanks and now we'll take you to a seated posture before you go right into it maybe the best way is to think about a lot's happened with the lumbar spine for many of us so in that position and during those transitions there we've worked the lumbar spine in different ways we want to take good care of it now so maybe you turn your heels out turn your toes out a little and then exhaling bend the knees and let your pelvis sink down low see how she's able to maintain the lumbar spine in a neutral position there take a few breaths there your elbows might be spreading your knees further apart great and feel that you still have that wonderful length that you've established through the lumbar and through the entire spine and then when you're ready exhale and you can take your hands back behind you and let your sitting bones come on to the mat now usually we counter pose Urdhva Dhanurasana back bends with Paschimatanasana forward bend some people might feel that they're going back going forward going back going forward it can be a little too much for the lumbar spine so it may be that you even just take a very modified Paschimatanasana reaching the hands forward and then finding maybe your feet or your legs or whatever feels right but don't go to your full forward bend instead keep yourself suspended and up and pulling with the feet lengthen the upper back lengthen the chest through the shoulders rolled back and down and every exhale still finds Urdhana and the pelvis grounding deeply in the mat if you're really comfortable you might be going to full Paschimatanasana there or perhaps we'll explore a few other counter poses that you might use like Urdhva Dhanurasana exhale let go your hands bring your right knee up and your left heel just in front of your right sitting bone so that your left knee is just straight in front of the pelvis and then draw your right heel over the left knee if it's really uncomfortable for you to do that you might have the left leg straight as well that's fine whatever works great and then gently pull both hands onto your right thigh inhale lengthen the spine upwards and exhale and twist and that can be a fine twist for you again we're not trying to take you into deep extreme posture we're trying to use these poses to counter pose and bring the lumbar spine back to a natural neutral place if it's really comfortable for you you might take your left shoulder and place it over the right knee or take on any other variation of Urdhva Dhanurasana that feels right good still keeping every inhale to lengthen the spine upwards and every exhale to twist a little more deeply inhale and look forward and exhale release the pose let the feet go straight in front and Paschimatanasana and change the side of course bring your left knee up your right heel in front of left sitting bone and then just loop your left heel over the right knee taking both hands to the thigh inhale lengthen the spine upwards still getting the thoracic spine long and open and exhale and twist behind you and you can take on any variation of that that you like perhaps with the shoulder over the knee or anything else that works make sure that you're still guided by breath still letting breath be the cause for the practice the cause for the movements and inhale and look forward and exhale let your feet go straight in front to Dandasana your neutral pose there the seated stick position and then we'll take on Agni Stambasana the fire sticks pose so bend your knees and put your left foot down on the mat so that your left shin is just parallel to the front edge of the mat so it's not coming towards lotus ideally it's parallel to the front edge of the mat if your hips are really open you'll see that your left knee is coming down close to the mat if your hips are closed then it might be really high that's okay then you're just going to modify by crossing the legs so if you're comfortable there then place your right ankle just unto the left knee and if both shins are parallel to the front edge of the mat you should feel that your right knee is just above the left ankle and that can be a great hip opener for where you're at again if you feel that that's asking too much and if the knees are painful by all means get out of the posture but if you try to attempt that pose and one knee is really high up off the mat then it may just be that you're crossing the legs and letting yourself be in a cross-legged position there now if you're comfortable in the pose as Satrine is here with ankle on the knee knee on the ankle then it may be that you grab your ankles lengthen the spine and even exhale and slightly go forward as much or as little as is comfortable your hands can stretch out in front and the going forward will really help to open the underside of the right hip with the right leg on top maybe if you're deep in the pose as well you'll start to open the left hip as well and with the knees bent the hamstrings are no longer pulling on the pelvis so this kind of forward bend should be much more easy much more approachable for the lumbar spine than with straight legs and then inhale and walk the hands back slowly come back up with a long spine position and exhale straighten the legs in front to Dandasana and simply change the side again honoring and respecting the difference between the sides one side might be more open you might be able to come deeper into the posture one side might require some more modification it can be fine just sitting here or if you're comfortable start to reach the hands forward and gently go forward into full Agnistambasana the fire sticks pose still breathing feeling the release through the hips and letting the spine elongate over the folded legs inhaling walking the hands back back great and then your last optional counter pose will be Navasana so from here you can just straighten the legs as we started earlier in the practice having the arms straight out to the side in Navasana you could have the knees bent if you like trying to establish that length through the spine or if you feel like challenging the lower abdomen you could straighten the knees feeling that there's real strength coming in there to keep the spine in its natural neutral position and then exhale let the legs go down and from here perhaps now you feel more open more comfortable more ready for Paschimattanasana you can reach the hands forward and if you're comfortable go forward and down towards the mat long smooth full deep breathing and then inhale rise your torso up still holding the feet and then exhale let go cross the legs plant the hands take a vinyasa however you like as slowly as you like take it like a holiday inhale upward facing exhale to downward facing dog and inhale come through to a sitting position in Dandasana and from there simply exhale and lie down on your back and give yourself a resting posture so you can let the feet roll out to the side let the palms roll up to the sky and completely let go if it feels comfortable you might want to bend the knees and put the feet flat on the floor so that you feel the lumbar spine imprinting on the mat but don't hold that as any kind of activity that you want to keep it may be useful to feel the lumbar spine lengthening flattening and then let it go again you can straighten the legs and bring the feet to flop out to the side and the palms rolling open to the sky see if you can completely surrender into this pose or lack thereof and use it as the ultimate counter pose to all the postures which we've just performed and experimented with so a lot of times in our practice we're using the mind to be guided into very subtle places in the body using different kinds of musculature and relaxation and here i really encourage you to give all that up and to completely and fully relax so the eyes are closed there's no drishti and the physical engagements of the bandha are also relaxed so you can breathe deeply into your belly if that feels comfortable for you and all the muscles softening releasing and relaxing so with that neutral natural relaxed breath not managed not controlled simply notice which parts of the body are resting on the floor where can you feel the body's weight being drawn down into the earth in your feet in your legs through the pelvis the shoulders the hands the head just notice the places where the body rests on the earth and with every exhale feel those places of resting drawing down deeper into the earth as if you were sinking down through those places being drawn into the mat into the floor into the earth element and feel that there's no limit to how deeply you can sink every exhale find that sinking low feeling and then the rest of the body you can start to feel that it's buoyant floaty and that every inhale feels like there's space coming in between the molecules of the entire rest of the body every exhale you feel the grounding low and every inhale you feel the buoyant rise of space through the entire physical body keep breathing there neutral calm breath exhales that draw you to the earth and inhales that allow the air to create space through the body so and then when you're ready inhaling to feel some movement return through the fingers through the toes and gently bringing some movement in through the arms and legs through the neck and head however you're ready whatever way feels comfortable for you let motion return to the body keep breathing naturally and calmly and eventually inhaling to draw the feet together below and the hands together up high above the head stretching long with an inhale and exhaling rolling over into one side or the other bending the knees taking a nice comfortable fetal position there and then gently drawing yourself back to any comfortable seated posture so hopefully this work which you've done today has really allowed you to find not only the grounding but the spaciousness that the breath gives you and finding that you can actually actively approach the inhale and work on it to find length through the spine hopefully gives you more space in your practice and perhaps more space in your mind and in your daily life thank you very much for joining again thanks to Satrine


Kate M
I really appreciate the approach to drop backs. Nice and gentle. Breath-centered. mmmmmmmm (the whole tutorial was most helpful: ) Thank you!
Eric K
That was excellent. Clear. Well-paced. Instructive. Thank you.
Dylan Bernstein
Hey Eric , I'm really glad that you were able to find some value in that! Everyone approaches backbending differently, but there's always something to be learned. cheer to you!

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