The aging process is most often marked by a spine that slumps forward. When our inner core and spine are no longer strong and flexible, we further demonstrate aging by hunching the shoulders up and forward. Both these misalignments are corrected by bending over backward, and Urdhva Dhanurasana (UD) keeps us limber and ageless.
It’s simple, but not easy. What is required — determination and perseverance — the same formula that aids in realizing any transformation or state of enlightenment. Yogis refer to this realization as Samadhi wherein the happiness of an awakened higher consciousness prevails. With determination and perseverance (discipline), we move beyond mere religious faith into direct experience of the divine in our present life.
Arguably, this is the greatest difference between religions and yoga/meditation.
As we progress in any discipline, our capacity builds thereby reducing the effort required and moving us into a greater state of ease. At which point, simple does become easy and effortless.
This process of purifying your energy (physical, mental-emotional and spiritual) entails dedicating yourself to a virtuous, holistic and selfless life. Understandably, if we do not live from a purified state, we cannot expect others to do so. As so wisely declared, loving and caring for our mind, body and spirit precede our ability to offer the same to others. Only when we can open our hearts and love ourselves, can we do the same for others.
Open your heart with the following UD sequence. Continue to practice the Yoga Actions from Part I with a small addition as you directly experience even more back bending poses and happiness.
To begin, sit quietly in Virasana, Sukhasana or Siddhasana in order to withdraw the five senses of your face (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) from the outer world into your inner experience (Pratyahara). Initially focus on your breath (both the inhales and exhales) to settle your body and mind, and then shift your awareness to practicing the Yoga Actions below. Take your practice of these actions into each pose that follows.
1. Expand across the top edges of both shoulder blades into the outer shoulders and down the arms into the four points of the hands.
2. Lift the public bone toward the navel.
3. Draw the navel toward the inner face of the back waist.
SIDDHASANA (Accomplished Pose) 3-5 minutes
– heels align with pubic bone
SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA (Supine Bound-angle Pose) 3-5 m
– horizontal bolster under thoracic spine, armpits free of bolster
– support for head if neck feels compressed; remove support if capacity allows
– belt legs and/or support outer thighs with blocks
SURYA NAMASKARA B (Sun Salutations) 1 round
– initiate a gentle, slow Ujjayi Breath
– INHALE to lengthen the spine; EXHALE to move into the pose
ARDHA SUPTA VIRASANA &/or SUPTA VIRASANA (Half or Full Hero Pose) 3-5 m
SIRSASANA (Headstand) 10-30 Bs
– any variation of Walk-up, Heels-into-wall or Centre-of-room
– release to Balasana (Child Pose) 10 Bs
SALAMBA URDHVA DHANURASANA (Supported Inverted Bow) 3-5 m
– front of chair seat behind upper edge of shoulder blades
SALAMBA URDHVA DHANURASANA (Supported Inverted Bow) 3-10 Bs
– hands on slant board or slanted blocks at wall (eases wrist strain)
SALAMBA URDHVA DHANURASANA
– feet on blocks (lifts pelvis higher balancing the arch throughout the entire spine)
SALAMBA SARVANGASANA (Supported Shoulderstand) 3-5 m
– 1 to 2 minutes in each variation
ARDHA JATHARA PARIVARTANASANA (Half Supine Bent-knee Twist) 2 m ea side
– after 1 minute, straighten upper leg toward extended hand
VIPARITA KARANI (Legs Up Wall) 5-10 m
– support heels on chair back; use blanket under heels
– belt legs if desired
May your open heart expand your direct experience of the divine. Namaste.