Practice Lab

For the past few years, my dear friend and practice partner, Kristen Davis, and I have been getting together every week on a pretty regular basis to practice and generally geek out about yoga. After a hiatus of several month while Kristen was on maternity leave, our practices were getting kind of spotty, so we launched back in with an abandon with Kristen’s idea of doing a practice where we tried to effectively sequence backbends with forward bends, usually an absolute no-no in the Iyengar system. Our first attempt, building up to linking Bakasana (Crow Pose) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) through Salamba Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand) was moderately successful, but we didn’t quite have the opening in the mid-back to make the transition as smooth as it could be.

After some thought, I had the idea of adding a twist into the mix, which worked really well. Here’s the sequence we did:

Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose)
Parivrtta Uttanasana (Revolved Intense Stretch Pose)
Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose) preparation only

side crow pose
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Parivrtta Parshvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) simple variation with the hand on the floor inside the front leg, not outside
Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)

Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose) full pose
Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Furious Pose)
Utkatasana (Furious Pose)

Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)
Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)
Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon Pose)
Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior Pose 3)
[Something about this trio didn’t seem appealing in the moment so we did the following three instead]

inverted stafpose
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana 1 (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose 1)
Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana (Revolved Hand to Big Toe Pose)
Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior Pose 3)

Ropes 1 (if you don’t have access to a rope wall, you might try a few sun salutations)
Adho Mukha Vrkshasana [Downward Facing Tree Pose]
Pincha Mayurasana [Peacock Feather Pose]
[Cycle through this trio 2-3 times]

Janu Shirshasana (Head of the Knee Pose)
Parivrtta Janu Shirshasana (Revolved Head of the Knee Pose)
Shalabhasana (Locust Pose)

Marichyasana 1 (Marichi’s Pose 1)
Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 1)
Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)
Pashasana (Noose Pose)
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
[We actually did Dhanurasana first and then Ushtrasana, but it didn’t quite work that way round. The thighs needed more opening, which they got by doing Ushtrasana first, though you might consider doing something like Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose) over a chair for even more opening.]

Bakasana (Crow Pose)
Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)
Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two Leg Inverted Staff Pose)

Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
Bakasana (Crow Pose)
Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
Parshva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose)
Shirshasana 2 (Head Stand 2)
Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (Two Leg Inverted Staff Pose)

Ardha Halasana (Half Plough Pose) over a chair

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

My reservation about this sequence was what it might do to the nervous system. I was worried I might not get to sleep that night. Turns out I slept like a baby. My back was sore the next day, as you might imagine, and I was ravenous all day, but otherwise no troubles.

Try it for yourself and report back.

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