This sequence is from The Woman's Book of Yoga and Health: A Lifelong Guide to Wellness, by Linda Sparrowe and Patricia Walden. I started practicing it about a week ago, in the middle of the night, when I woke up and felt sure the world was ending. (You know -- those middle-of-the-night thoughts!)
- The first three poses are all forward bends. Down dog, uttanasana and prasarita padottanasana, each featuring actively bracing, strong legs. The head rests on a support (blocks or a chair). Sparrowe notes that the first poses are "more active ... to get rid of nervous energy."
Resting the head on a support is an Iyengar ploy to "cool the mind." It also upends the torso and stretches / releases the muscles of the upper back body, which may carry tension.
- The next set of poses are back-bending poses (Michael Lucey calls them "back extensions."). We will modify the poses -- but in the book the two poses are viparita dandasana with a chair and urdhva danyurasana. Backbends lift the chest and clear space for more breath. They counteract congestion and tightness in the upper torso. Sparrowe notes: "Freer breath brings lighter feelings."
- After child's pose, the sequence proceeds to sarvangasana (shoulderstand) and halasana, and then to a sequence that alternates between paschimottanasana and halasana, traveling through shoulderstand each time. The last sequence is exhilarating and fun -- but can be taxing for those who are experiencing some stiffness in the back and neck.
We will continue to work with the last sequence (halasana - sarvangasana - paschimottanasana) during the week of April 8 to 14.
One last quote from Sparrowe:
"Yoga can teach you to pay attention to what's going on in your body, to feel your emotions, and to let go. If you've ever struggled to master a difficult pose, you know that mastery doesn't come until you stop working so hard. Yoga also reminds you that nothing is permanent, that you are not your feelings. By staying present in a pose, especially one that challenges you at first, you learn that you can be uncomfortable, even unhappy, and still be all right. You come to see that what was impossible last week is doable today." (p. 209)
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.
I need more.
I break off a fragment
to send you.
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won’t shrink.
Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.
Only so, by division,
will hope increase,
like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source –
clumsy and earth-covered –