In the morning classes this week we focussed on Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1) and all the work that is required in that pose. In the evening class we worked on three different, short sequences of poses. You can read more about both classes below:
Morning class – Virabhadrasana 1
There is a lot of working going on in this pose, from the soles of the feet to the tips of the fingers.
We started with Tadasana – Mountain pose. Tadasana is a good grounding pose at the start of a class, and also gives an opportunity to practice the action in the thoracic spine which is required in Virabhadrasana 1. Move the thoracic spine towards the front of the chest and the chest opens well.
Next, Utkatasana. This pose gives us the chance to practice 3 key actions in Virabhadrasana 1. First of all the work in the thighs. The bent front leg in Warrior 1 needs to be strong and stable. Secondly, the work in the lower back, keeping the tailbone forward and the lumbar area of the spine flat. And finally the raised arms – fingers to the ceiling but the shoulders down away from the ears.
Time to work on flexibility and the action of the thoracic spine – Uttanasana. Going into the stretch as deeply as possible isn’t the most important thing here. Instead, try to keep a balance between the stretch and the concave action in the spine.
Then we used Anjaneyasana to stretch the hip flexors. You can modify this pose by either, keeping the hands on the floor either side of the front foot for extra support, or taking that hands up to the ceiling. However you practice, the main thing to focus on is the stretch of the hip flexor of the back leg.
It’s important to make sure the back is ready for the work required in any backbend by getting some length into the spine and rejuvenating the inter-vertebral discs, you can read more about that in this excellent article. A good way of doing that is Adho Mukha Svanasana, downward-facing dog.
Which brings us to the penultimate pose – Salambha Bhujangasa. Don’t take it too far, use the support provided by your arms and shoulders to extend from the tailbone. Avoid folding the lower back, protect your back by pushing the tailbone down and taking the chest forward through the arms.
And now all the building blocks are in place for Virabhadrasana 1.
It’s important to relax after doing strenuous poses. Kneel in Virasana and use the time there to do some shoulder stretches (like Gomukhasana). Sit cross-legged and do some gentle spinal twists. Then spend a few minutes, ideally at least 10 minutes, in Savasana.
Evening class – 3 sequences
The evening class is an opportunity to work differently. Rather than do lots of work focussed on one pose we put together sequences of some familiar asanas.
- Tadasana -establish the pose, raise the arms then move into;
- Utkatasana – keep the tailbone forward, keep the chest open, then fold into;
- Uttanasana – keep the legs straight, stretch the hamstrings
- Inhale to come back to standing, bend your knees slightly to protect your back.
- Trikonasana – legs wide, move into the pose and hold for a breath or two then bend the front knee, raise the body and establish;
- Virabhadrasana 2 – keep the body facing forwards, hold for breath or two then fold sideways at the hips, take the arm to the floor next the bent leg, on the outside of the bent leg, take the top arm overand establish;
- Parsvakonasana – stay here for a breath or two, then come back to standing and repeat the sequence on the other side.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog) – hold the pose for a couple of breaths then lower into
- Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana (plank) – hold for a couple of breaths then lower into
- Urdvha Mukha Svanasana (upward-facing dog) – hold for a couple of breaths then push back to downward facing dog and start again.
After all that we finished with some shoulder stretches and gentle twists before relaxing in Savasana.