Intermediate Group Class

Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand
I had an interesting challenge to face this week. I had a class that used a rope wall a LOT, but then I had to reconceive the class for a non-iyengar studio without a rope wall and no other props than blocks, blankets and belts. I thought I’d post both here.

Overall, we were still working with widening and releasing the large muscles of the back: gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi and trapezius. In particular, we began to zero in on the neck and shoulder girdle with the following actions:
  • Soften and widen the upper half of the trapezius, releasing the back of the neck and loosening the upper shoulder blades away from each other.
  • As you widen the back, widen and deepen the eyes of the chest, balancing the front and back.
  • Expand the neck ribs (the first two ribs) three dimensionally.
  • Either turn the neck ribs towards the head in a back bend or away from the head in a forward bend.

On top of that, create a feeling of softness and fluidity in the the back body as you move.

Sequence 1 (with rope wall):

Utkatasana (Furious Pose) on ropes
• Hold onto rope and hang in the pose to stretch out the back.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) on ropes
INTO Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose) on ropes
INTO Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) on ropes
• From Adho Mukha Shvanasana on the ropes with the heels on the wall, reach back and either take hold of the lowest rope hook or the ankles, depending on your reach.
• Let the head hang. If the head touches the floor, walk the feet forward.
• Go back to Adho Mukha Shvanasana for a few moments to finish.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose) on ropes
• Tie a low rope between two high ropes on separate rope stations as if setting up for hanging Shirshasana (Head Stand).
• Drape a couple of blankets over the ropes for cushioning.
• Climb up into the ropes with the loop behind the back ribs and the hips hanging down.
• Straighten the legs and rest the backs of the thighs on the wall.
• Slide down a little to deepen the stretch and draw the flesh of the back towards the head.
• Release the chin into the chest.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent and the hands on the floor next to the elbows as if about to go into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose).
• Stretch the triceps through the elbows.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Dandasana (Staff Pose) rope lift
• Loop the arms through the ropes of one rope station and grasp the hands knots.
• Straighten the arms, standing up on a block if necessary.
• Keep the arms straight and pick the knees up and hold.
• Repeat 2-3 times.
• For the second set of 2-3 repetitions, try to come up with the legs bent, the straighten the legs.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent and the hands on the floor next to the elbows as if about to go into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose).
• Stretch the triceps through the elbows.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Shirshasana (Head Stand)/Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana (Upward Facing Intense West Stretch Pose) on ropes sequence.
• Halve a high rope on each of two adjacent rope stations.
• Grasp the ropes and walk the feet up the wall so that you end up with the back and legs flat against the wall.
• Hold for a few moments.
• Slide down the wall into Urdhva Mukha Pashchimottanasana.
• Hold for a few moments.
• Slide or walk back up to the Sirshasana position.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Urdhva Baddhanguliyasana (Upward Bound Fingers Pose)

Ropes 1
• 5-8 repetitions

Rolling sequence:
• Roll back and forth with the knees bent, softening the back, 5-8 reps.
• Roll between Dandasana (Staff Pose), Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) and Halasana (Plough Pose), 5-8 reps.
• Add Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) to the sequence between Dandasana and Halasana, 5-8 reps.

Ropes 1
• 5-8 repetitions

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose) INTO Halasana (Plough Pose)
• Roll up and down with control and no momentum, 5-8 reps.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Once with each leg kicking up in the regular hand position.
• Once with hands turned out.
• Once with each of the hands turned back.

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over the chair
• Do the pose with a rolled up mat across the edge of the chair under the upper back.

Chair Drop-Back Sequence:
[Cycle through the following 3-4 times]
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand) one side only
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to chair one side only
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand) second side
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to chair second side
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to chair

Drop- Back Sequence:
[Cycle through the following 3-4 times]
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand) one side only
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to floor one side only
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand) second side
Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to floor second side
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-back to floor

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


Sequence 2 (without rope wall):

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) over bolster, 5 min

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined big Toe Pose 2) 2 min each side

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart

Utkatasana (Furious Pose) into wall
• Have a block between the thighs.
• Rest the forearms on the wall.

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Come into the pose with the back against the wall.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent and the hands on the floor next to the elbows as if about to go into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose).
• Stretch the triceps through the elbows.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Rolling sequence:
• Roll back and forth with the knees bent, softening the back, 5-8 reps.
• Roll between Dandasana (Staff Pose), Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) and Halasana (Plough Pose), 5-8 reps.
• Add Purvottanasana (Intense East Stretch Pose) to the sequence between Dandasana and Halasana, 5-8 reps.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent and the hands on the floor next to the elbows as if about to go into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose).
• Stretch the triceps through the elbows.
• 2-3 repetitions.

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose) INTO Halasana (Plough Pose)
• Roll up and down with control and no momentum, 5-8 reps.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Once with each leg kicking up in the regular hand position.
• Once with hands turned out.
• Once with each of the hands turned back.

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)
• Palms up instead of down.

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) with blocks under the sacrum and blankets under the shoulders

Eka Pada Setu Bandha (Single Leg Bridge Pose) with blocks under the sacrum and blankets under the shoulders

Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2) with the wrists belted instead of the hands clasped
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Salamba Sarvangasana 2 (Shoulder Stand 2)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)
Niralamba Sarvangasana 1 (Unsupported Shoulder Stand 1)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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