Whether your lats are loose or tight, using props to align and stabilise your
arms will deepen your stretch more effectively. Here is a good way to do this.
Kneel on a folded blanket in front of a chair. Optionally, drape an unfolded
sticky mat over the chair seat. Hold a yoga block in front of you, one hand on
each short end. When you are in the pose, this block will keep your upper arms
fully rotated by holding your forearms apart, so choose a grip that keeps your
hands and wrists as far from each other as possible. Bend your elbows 90
degrees, and carefully place the backs of your elbows, near their tips, on the
front edge of the chair seat, about shoulder-width apart or slightly closer. If
you have trouble keeping your elbows on the seat, loop a strap around your
forearms very close to the joint. Adjust the backs of your elbow tips so they
rest as close as possible to the chair’s front edge without risk of sliding off
when you put weight on them.
Walk your knees away from the chair until your trunk is parallel to the floor
and your knees are directly under your hip joints. Draw your front lower rib
cage upward so it does not sag toward the floor, and keep it there throughout
the pose. Exhale and then, being careful to keep your elbows on the chair, move
your hips horizontally backward to lengthen your spine, slide your outer
shoulders toward your ears, and draw your head away from the edge of the chair
If there’s room, allow your head to hang down in the space between your trunk
and the chair. Exhale again and move your hips back more. Press your tailbone
slightly toward the floor to stabilise your sacrum, pelvis and lower back; keep
your ribs slightly lifted and move your outer arms (triceps) toward the floor as
far as you comfortably can.
If you experience discomfort in your shoulders, back out of the pose a little
by moving your shoulders up away from the floor; then, as you reenter the pose,
squeeze your elbow tips toward each other without actually sliding them closer
together. (If this doesn’t relieve your shoulders, back out of the pose and seek
help from a teacher.) When you have found a strong yet comfortable stretch,
relax your outer armpits, the sides of your trunk and the surface of your lower
back all the way to your sacrum to allow the latissimus muscles to fully
release, lengthen and permit deeper movement.
This yoga is amazing. We have been working VERY hard. Yesterday we did a 25 minute
shoulderstand with variations.
While there is a strong focus on the
physical adjustments, turn your thigh in etc, there is also discussion about the
(the thinking part of us) versus the 'self' (the being part of us) and that the reason we are trying to align in the poses is so that the 'self' can emerge while our 'mind' recedes.
It is so inspiring to be in these
I am in India for a month
of yoga classes at the Iyengar Yoga Institute. Thanks Stephanie for looking
after my class while I am away
It is SO exciting to be here. I am
staying in an apartment in the 'Remuera' of Pune, which means... there are lots of green
trees to go with the
dust, tuk tuk, rubbish, dogs, food carts etc.
I am not feeling as
overwhelmed by India as I thought I would.
It was pretty exciting going
to yoga school for the first time. It is a big stone/concrete building. All
the modern buildings in India are similar, they feel a bit like the swimming
pool changing rooms, all concrete and tiles.
Having said that, the Iyengar yoga hall has a really nice feel to it. It is sort of a half round.
With a big high roof in the centre and a low roof around the outside. There are
foot wide pillars to work on, ropes from the ceiling, ropes from the wall, metal
bars, 3 trestles, tons of other yoga props. There were about 100 people in the
class (about 30 Indian, the rest foreign).
I was very excited to see Mr Iyengar for the first time. He practices in the back of the hall when we are
doing our yoga. He is ninety three, but he has the persona and the voice of a
much younger person.
If we could all practice yoga half as well as he
does, there would be no such thing as old age.