Preparation for Urdhva Dhanurasana step 1
Urdhva – Upward
Props: Block and belt
When I started practicing the physical practise of yoga I thought I would nerve be able to lift myself up to a full bridge pose. Well one day it finally happened my arms went straight but it was still not easy.
I had private lessons with my teacher Ratheesh Mani and he would emphasise on doing backbends, probably because I did not like it. In one session together I had already done 5 full backbends and he kept on telling one more, one more… But! Now my favourite postures of all time are backbends.
First of all, we are all different! Not only how flexible our bodies are but also how we are built up. Some has more range in their shoulder others more open psoas…
I emphasise that you practice from your own body and that present state of mind. Read more about that in my previous blog.
When you break down a posture you need to be aware of what needs to be lengthen, supported, strengthen and more.
- The backbend comes from the upper back
- Our psoas needs to be open in order to take away tension from our lumbar spine
- Shoulders and arms has a very important role in a full bridge
This is tricky because we tend to lack awareness of our muscles in our upper back and often its not that we are stiff its just that we don’t know how to work.
This posture is great to start with for opening the upper back and also for awareness. To begin I would suggest you have a blanket folded under your head and maybe even bring the block down a notch.
- The block should be placed on the upper back so if you draw the tip of the shoulder blades slightly down you feel the edge of the block. (see picture)
- Legs are straight, together and active.
- Arms are bent in a 90 degree angle palms facing up (see picture). The shoulders are gonna want to puff up so you need to encourage them down.
- Slightly lower the chin to keep the neck long
If the arms don´t touch the ground and you feel crunched in your neck use a blanket under the head and maybe even under the elbows.
Arms step 1…
When the first posture starts to feel nice. I promise you it will . You can continue with this posture.
- Hold on to the outer edges of your mat.
- Draw the elbows in closer to your face so they are inline with the shoulders.
- Press the hands slightly down and pull the mat apart but keep the elbows in!
- Outer shoulders moves towards the roof and upper arms firms in
Arms step 2…
- Start to pull the mat apart and back, keep the hands by the floor and straighten the arm.
- Keep the actions you created in the previous posture. Very important!
Keep on breathing…
Practicing half bridge by the wall…
This is a great way to get an understanding of the work of your legs and buttock.
- Turn to a wall space and lay on your back with bended knees and place the toes on the wall. Second toe inline with the center of the heal. Hands along side the body. Palms facing down. The knees will now be off the wall!
- Start to roll the shoulders under and press the outer shoulder down, spread across the collarbones.
- Lift the OUTER hips up (not the center, outer!) and bring the knees to the wall. Now you probably need to rearrange the work on your shoulder and upper back a little bit.
- Here come the important parts. Inner thighs releasing down, buttock moving towards the knees. To create space in the lower back.
- Place the elbows on the floor, hands on the hips fingers pointing up.
- Keep the shoulder rolled under and press the elbows down to lengthen the upper back in towards the front body and away from the buttock.
The deeper you breath the easier it gets…
If you feel your knees are splaying out and your pubic bone push up keep a block between your thighs.
You might feel your legs burn.
As we have support by the wall for the knees it is okay that they pass the heals but not otherwise. If you feel any tension in your knees please go out directly and do the same actions but keep the knees off the wall.
When you have practiced this you can start to push the chins back so the knees moves away from the wall. Keep the same actions in the legs, buttock, upper back and shoulders.
Enjoy safe backbends. Next step will come next week...