Practice Lab

Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose
Once again, Kristen and I found ourselves both exhausted. (A common occurrence for yoga teachers in the city, it seems.) I just got back from teaching a workshop out of town and Kristen has an infant (no more reason needed). We wanted to do something more than just flopping around, but we needed a practice that had a strong restorative effect, so we opted to do forward bends. While we were practicing, we were discussing how when the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) is active, the back of the neck grips. Kristen had the idea of doing the poses with the head well supported and a sandbag on the back of the skull. Boy, was that effective. We both felt like we’d woken up from a deep nap. The key is to make sure the the head is firmly supported with enough height underneath it that the sandbag puts no pressure on the back of the neck.

The Sequence:

Rope Shirshasana (Head Stand)
• 5 minutes.

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

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose) with the toes on the chair
• 2 minutes.

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose) with the thighs on the chair
• 3 minutes.

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)
• 2 minutes each side.

Adho Mukha Sukhasana (Downward Facing Comfortable Pose)
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes each side.

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes each side.

Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (Half Bound Lotus Intense West Stretch Pose) unbound variation
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes each side.

Virasana (Hero Pose)

Uttanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose) with the feet apart
• Loop a belt around the base of the skull and the balls of the feet to draw the head down.

Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose)
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes.

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)
• Head on support and weighted with a sandbag.
• 2 minutes.

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) on support
• Have he kidneys on the edge of the support so they can get toned.
• We did this with the body supported by two chairs and blankets and bolsters under the head, neck and arms. By the time we had built ourselves up, however, we could have just used a bolster and a couple of blankets.
• 5 minutes.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with the legs on a chair
• 5 to 10 minutes.


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