Painless heart opening Ustrasana

Follow Jaye’s explicit and detailed instructions for a deeper understanding of Ustrasana. You will join Jaye in the garden alongside a beautiful puja for three cycles and different variations of the pose. Have two blocks available and if your knees are sensitive please be sure to either double fold your mat or have your knees on blankets. So many of us start this pose by whipping our head back first, which causes all sorts of limitations in getting the full value of the actions of this backbend. Go through the stages that Jaye describes – e.g., of rooting down through the foundation, breathe in fullness for length on the front and sides of the body to enable you to lift the heart high while keeping the hips aligned and forward. Naturally, most of us take the hips back slightly for this pose which only increases the difficulty in getting into this backbend. Once you achieve a lift of the heart and the heads of your arm bones draw back you release your hands toward either blocks or your heels. Only at the very end of the pose do you draw your head back to discover the fullness and freedom of the pose and in your neck. This stepwise approach that Jay leads us through requires some warmup on your part — prepare yourself through poses like lunges, anjaneyasana, eka pada bhekasana; eg., warmups that might include lengthening the quadriceps as well as some postures to open the shoulders so that you have the flexibility to take the heads of the arm bone back to open the upper back.

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