Intermediate Practice: Softening and Widening the Abdominal Wall

This practice features a host of poses which are considered core poses, such as arm balances and leg lifts. Though it is true that the middle of the body needs to be strengthened to perform these poses, crudely squeezing the abdominals will only inhibit your ability to do the poses properly. As you go through the sequence, consider the following:
  • Think of the abdominal wall as having three parts. First there is the lower abdomen, below the navel and between the hip bones and hip creases. Second, the upper abdominal wall, above the navel up to and including the lower rib cage. Thirdly, the lower back, as the fibers of transverse abdominis wrap around the mid-section like a girdle.
  • Widen outward from and elongate along the linea alba, the mid-line of rectus abdominis, the “six-pack” muscles. Continue that lengthening along the sternum, so the whole superficial front line of the body moves towards the head.
  • Soften and widen the lower back.
  • Allow the entire abdomen to fall into the back body.

The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch pose) with the feet apart

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet Pose)
• Do the pose with the elbows bent, the hands under the shoulders as if about to go up into Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Wheel Pose).
• Set up next to a wall with the elbows touching it. Keep them touching the wall throughout the whole pose.

Shirshasana Cycle:
Child’s Pose in Head Stand
• Bring the knees into the chest with the feet off the floor and hold.
Urdhva Dandasana (Upward Staff Pose)
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
• Hold for only 2 to 3 minutes. Then come down and go back up into the next pose.
Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
• Hold for only 30 seconds. Then come down and go into the next variation.
Salamba Shirshasana 3 (Head Stand 3)
• Hold for only 30 seconds. Then come down and go into the next variation.
Baddha Hasta Shirshasana (Bound Hands head Stand)
• Hold for only 30 seconds. Then come down and change the crossing of the arms before going back up.
• If you are unable to go up into any of the variations, simple practice the preparation, lifting the knees up off the floor.

Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Halasana (Plough Pose)
• 2 to 3 minutes.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
• Have blankets under the shoulders and the feet flat on the floor. Support the sacrum with blocks.

Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-backs
• 3 attempts on each side.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose in Shoulder Stand) drop-backs
• 3 attempts.

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Bakasana (Crow Pose)
• Come into the pose from the floor.

Bakasana (Crow Pose)
• Come into the pose from Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2).



Ankle-to-Knee Cycle:
[Do each of the following three hip openers all on one crossing and then all on the other.]

Ankle to Knee Pose
Revolved Ankle to Knee Pose
• Twist to the side of the top foot.
Side Ankle to Knee Pose
• Extended forward over the side of the top foot.
Ankle to Knee Pose

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)
• Come into the pose from the floor.

Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)
• Come into the pose from Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2).

Eka Pada Koundinyasana 1 (Single Leg Koundinya’s Pose 1)

Eka Pada Galavasana (Single Leg Galava’s Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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