The Lowdown

In this second phase (see figure 2), you hold the sides of your feet to get more extension in the sides of your torso while broadening across your chest and shoulders and moving farther toward your feet.

Regin in Dandasana as you did previously. Inhale and extend your arms straight up overhead. Lift the sides of your rib cage and waist. On an exhalation, reach forward and clasp your outer feet. Pull on your feet and draw your arms hack as you did in the first variation to make your back concave. Flatten your thighs into the floor and move the buttocks back as you inhale and lengthen the abdomen forward. Broaden the top ofyour chest so that the shoulders, collarbones, neck, and throat remain soft.

On your next exhalation, begin to bend your elbows out to the sides, and lengthen your torso toward the feet. Don't drop the elbows, but keep them level with the shoulders. Push through your inner heels as you continue to widen your elbows, keeping the top chest broad. Spread the shoulders away from each other so that your upper back feels wide as well.

Now that your torso is broad, create more length. Pull the sides of your waist forward toward your side ribs, the side ribs toward your armpits, and the armpits toward your elbows. This will help you maintain the length of your front torso so that your back doesn't form a hump.

If you find that your abdomen is tightening, your effort has become aggressive. Balance your perseverance with vairagya by coming up slightly, extending your legs, and lifting your ribs away from your abdomen. Otherwise, continue to extend deeper into the pose by drawing your chest closer to your feet for up to a minute. Then, on an inhalation, let go of your feet, lift your arms to the ceiling again, and return to Dandasana.

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