A week seems to have passed since I did any yoga – too many commitments after work each night, an unexpected menstrual period, and it’s been too hard to get my head out of bed any earlier in the mornings than what’s programmed into it at the moment.
This morning, walking the dog just after sunrise, I was surprised to notice a tightness across my chest, as if it had somehow shrunken while I wasn’t watching. It was a reminder of how important backbends are to keep this area around the heart open.
I got home, had a shower and had 20 minutes spare to do some yoga before getting ready for work.
I wanted to stretch open this tight chest. My body needed to expand, to be woken up, to be shocked out of its comfortable slide. I hadn’t done Urdhva Dhanurasana for at least a month, maybe two...my body ached for it.
So I launched into this morning’s 20 minute practice with no warms ups or sun salutes:
Uttanasana, bending alternate knees towards my nose (this is a tiny but effective isometric challenge for my lower back)
Dog Pose with alternate leg lifts
3 Urdhva Dhanurasanas – the first one was appalling – I could only straighten my arms half way. I did the second one with my heels lifted and I was able to almost straighten my arms. The third one started with heels lifted and fully straightened arms then I lowered my heels and stayed for a while, bathing in the extreme stretch of every tissue in my body. I pressed into my feet and brought as much body weight as possible over my hands to accelerate the stretch through my front chest and armpits.
Uttanasana, twisting to each leg
Headstand for a few minutes before I succumbed to the urge to press into my forearms and lift my head off the floor in a perilous balance for a few moments.
Urdhva Dhanurasana was excruciatingly joyful this morning. I loved its intensity. Once you can push up into this backbend you can nudge out the edge of your limitations endlessly, for years.
It’s back on my playlist.
Tonight is a free night so I'm looking forward to playing with the Iyengar course sequence again...