"'Yoga raksati raksitah,' meaning Yoga protects those who practice and live dynamically in it."
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Core of the Yoga Sutras 

In these uncertain times we can lean into the teachings and the practice of the teachings of Yoga for support and stability.  Backward extensions are strengthening to the nervous system- they teach us how strong we truly are and how much capacity we have to extend and expand beyond the limitations of the body-mind.
 
The spine represents Purusha, the joyful, pure and infinite Soul and the limbs represent prakriti, or the finite, material world. The practice of asana teaches us how to use prakriti (the body and all of its component parts) to reach our Divine Core.
 
In this, the first of a two-part series on backward extensions, we practice preparations for and variations of well-known asanas that open up "the groins of the arms", the shoulders. This sequence and way of practicing extends and expands the upper body on a journey into the cervical and thoracic spine.
 
May your practices protect you, like the leaf of the lotus protects the flower from the water that surrounds it.

Hari OM Tat Sat. All that is the truth. 

Love,
Holly

Warm up with…

Gomukhasana

Chaturangasana
-for the wrists…and the elbows, shoulders, upper back and neck;-)

AND

Adho Mukha Virasana to Adho Mukha Svanasana
-elbows in slings under the horse OR
-blocks under the elbows and belt around wrists

Dive deep into the armpits with…

Adho Mukha Svanasana, Adho Mukha Vrksasana & Urdhva Dhanurasana
-in AMS: place two bricks (placed with the long edge down on the floor and slanted towards the wall; turn the hands in so that the the little fingers are up and the thumbs are down and the fingernails on each hand point towards one another; the wrists should face the walls on either side of you and be perpendicular to the floor, if possible
-in UD: place the forearms against the bricks now on their tall side and against a wall

Urdhva Dhanurasana & Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (bent knees)
-bricks on the tall side at the wall
-forearms against bricks in U.D. and upper arms against bricks in D.P.V.D.

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (walking out to straight knees)
-with the upper arms against bricks at the wall

Adho Mukha Svanasana
-to transition from backbends to twists
-feet on bricks placed on their low setting with short edge against wall; heels against wall and balls of toes on bricks

Now cultivate your own personal connection to practice and the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar with a vinyasa “flow” of the standing poses (see below).

Let the following teaching on the breath from B.K.S. Iyengar in “Light on Life” inform the connection between your body and mind:

“Here we will give some clues to how to relax in an asana, how to lighten the body, and how to avoid rigidity and hardness. Begin your asana by releasing the breath till you feel a quiet state of silence in the cells and self. Inhalation is tension, exhalation is freedom. All movements should be done with exhalation. Exhalation purges the stress and tension of the body.

After doing the asana, if you want to stretch deeper, exhale and stretch again.
Readjusting the asana after exhalation works on the inner organic body,
whereas if done by inhalation it acts on the external physical body.”

Prasarita Padottanasana I
-hands holding ankles
Parivritta Trikonasana
-right leg forward, keep the hand inside foot come back into
Prasarita Padottanasana I
-hands holding the ankles
Parivritta Trikonasana
-left leg forward, keep the hand inside foot come back into
Prasarita Padottanasana I
-stretch the arms back between legs and place the back of the hands down on the floor
-let the shoulders descend towards the floor

Supta Tadasana > Dwi Pada Pavana Muktasana > Jathara Parivartasana (bent knees)
-keep the thighs moving towards the hips and the shins moving towards the heels. Exhale and raise the feet off the floor and join the thighs and the abdomen.
-place a rolled blanket against the outer thigh so the spine stays “centralized”

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana
-lie on your back with the back of your legs, from your buttocks to your heels, against the wall

OR

Halasana
-support the thighs on a Halasana box or a chair seat with bricks placed parallel to one another and the long way from the front of the seat to the back

Prone Savasana
-support the abdomen on a folded blanket and the ankles on a rolled blanket
-exhale into the spinal muscles and encourage them to flow towards the outer edges of the back body and the brain cells to move away from the inner walls of the skull