Intermediate Group Class: Legs and Psoas in Baby Backbends

Pigeon pose over a chair
Two groups of actions to think about here. The first grounds the legs properly and directs the movement of the upper body. The second supports the psoas and the spine in the back bend.

As you go through the poses, think about the actions in this sequence:
  • Widen the gluteus maximus and lengthen it down towards the sitting bones. Soften and widen the lower front ribs from front to back and back to front.
  • Send the quadriceps down the length of the leg towards the knee and the hamstrings up towards the sitting bones. The gluteus is superficial to the hamstrings, so it is as if you are sliding the hamstrings up under the buttocks, while keeping the crease between the two wide and free.
  • Widen the latissimus dorsi across the lower ribs and both lift it and roll it towards the head, so that it acts as a pair of hands supporting and lifting the back. Take care not to poke the front ribs forward as you do this, keep them softening and widening back. Allow the lower back ribs to settle into the lats.
  • Re-widen and lengthen the gluteus.

In the deeper back bends you can cycle through these actions two or three times, keeping the breath soft and easy.

The Sequence

Lying over a block
• This really needs to be done with a foam block. I would imagine a wooden block to be much too hard.
• The purpose of this to create release in the psoas and iliacus.
• Lie face down with the block under the pubic bone. Hold for a minute or two.
• Shift the block across the right hip crease, under the hip bone and hold for a minute or two. Then do the left side for the same amount of time.
• Move the block so that it is across the abdomen at the level of the hip bones, beneath the navel. If your hips are narrow, you might find that both hip bones rest on the block. Hold for a minute or two.
• Slide the right hip bone off the block and dip it down so that the edge of the block settles into the side of the abdomen. Go easy with this. Hold for a minute or two. Repeat on the second side.
• Go back to the middle for a few breaths and then lie on the back in Shavasana (Corpse Pose) for a few moments before continuing on.
• If the block is too intense, you might use a rolled up mat or a 10-12” soft exercise ball.

Supta Padangusthasana 1 (Reclined Big Toe Pose 1)

Supta Padangusthasana 2 (Reclined big Toe Pose 2)

Back Bend over a bolster
• Lie back with a bolster across the back.
• Support the head properly with a block or folded blanket so that the back of the neck does not shorten excessively.
• Reach the arms overhead.
• Hold for a minute or two.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Adho Mukha Vrkshasana (Hand Stand)
• Kick up once with your dominant leg, once with your non-dominant leg, and once with both legs.
• Rest in Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart in between.

Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand)
• Kick up once with your dominant leg, once with your non-dominant leg.
• Rest in Child’s Pose in between.

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose)

Lunge Series
• Lunge with back knee down and hands on blocks under the shoulders.
• Lunge with back knee down and front foot up on a block.
• Lunge with back knee down, shin against the wall and hands on blocks under the shoulders.

Ardha Bhekasana (Half Frog Pose)

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) on bolster
• Have the bolster across the lower abdomen so that the upper body is propped up and the abdomen and thighs can release back and down.

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose) over a chair

Laghuvajrasana (Little Thunderbolt Pose) over a chair

Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) over a chair

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose) with the feet on a bolster

Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Padangustha Dhanurasana (Big Toe Bow Pose) with a belt
• Loop a belt around the feet and hold on to the tail of the belt.

Gherandasana 1 (Gheranda’s Pose 1) (picture is a little over half way down the page)
• Loop a belt around the Padangustha Dhanurasana foot.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) forward bend with legs only

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose)

Parshva Bharadwajasana (Side Bharadwaja’s Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

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