Ask Abbie

Ask Abbie

Pattern, Paradox and Katonah Yoga

We are constantly asked to describe  Katonah Yog a.  Although there is no handy answer, Katona
h Yoga is a Hatha practice with Chinese Taoist philosophy and classical geometry deeply embedded  in the theory and physical practice. While most yoga practices reference Hinduism and Indian culture as their philosophical matriarch, we filter our practice through Taoist concepts.  With a western narrative, Katonah Yoga uses metaphor and the language of archetype. 
              There are three main principles found in Taoism. The first is yin and yang, the second is that nature reveals its intelligence through pattern, and the third is that pattern repeats. Repetition of pattern develops our capacity  for having a new insight. For example, the repetition of a wave hitting a rock over and over, changes the nature of that rock. Taoism takes us from nature to our bodies and to our minds via a very pragmatic methodology. Katonah Yoga uses the poses to help each student move from first nature, ones's unconscious habitual patterns, to a second nature which is a conscious construction of a new more fully functioning self, to a third nature which involves conscious and unconscious integration and resiliency. This is the goal and the uniqueness of Katonah Yoga.
                While Katonah Yoga poses are classically Hatha in nature, we use techniques of origami folding, geometric measure and the use of ancient numerical archetypes to infuse the practice with dimension, energy, and refinement. These techniques offer us a map with which to navigate a practice rather than overly relying on feelings or sensations. If a pose is measured well, if the geometry is correct, the body is supported by its own structure rather than relying on muscle. 
Real strength is not a muscular grip but a matrix that is consciously constructed in our minds and embodied through physical effort. Reconstructing one's own container, one's body, through its structure, is the way to organically organize one's abode, thus re-informing the function of one's organs and glands.  The poses are the tools with which to set up conditions in order to explore the magic of the practice.
Taoist Principals in Katonah Yoga-
               Taoism teaches us to follow the organic patterns found in nature. The first principal that we play with in our yoga practice is the relationship between yin and yang. In reconciling any two polarities, a third factor is established
which braids together the two principles which at first seem like opposites. Male and female are made necessary to each other through their opposing but complementary virtues. Alone we are but one facet of a whole, while together we can participate in creation. We see this paradox repeated in nature again and again. This grand schematic motif can be seen on the minute scale in the body. We have a left side, and we have a right side and our job is to find the middle thus cultivating a center; a third foot, a third hand, a third eye.
             Off the mat, learning to adjust our awareness of how much we give and take from relationships refines those relationships into healthy balances of power and receptivity. So while yin and yang appear as opposites, the usefulness of their relationship is the yin in the yang and yang in the yin; an integration mediated by a third thing, you. When you make pigtails, which require only two strands, into a braid, requiring three strands, it is less likely to unravel, to be messy, to loose contact. Two hands clapping, making contact, makes a third thing, sound. And not be obnoxious, but the orgasmic integration of your parents, two people, make a third, you.
The second principle of Taoism that we explore at Katonah Yoga is the universality of pattern found in nature, including the cycles of the sun, in the tidal rhythms of the ocean's waves, menstrual cycles and as Freud taught us, the unconscious compulsion to repeat behavior. Everything that is part of nature reflects a larger pattern. The body is no different.
               From the subtle patterns like our sleep cycles and digestive cycles, to more obvious patterns like the seasons or aging, we are part of the natural world. Our job in yoga is to manipulate the patterns that don't serve us, and to cultivate and develop new ones that help us function better. And because the narrative of our lives is reflected in the body, changing physiology alters psychology.
The third principle underlies the discipline of esoteric training: repetition of techniques.  By virtue of repetition , one potentially develops insight.
            Working on the mat becomes more than just doing poses.  It becomes a place for us to address the patterns in our lives via the patterns in our bodies. We can change a pattern only by being conscious of it. And the insight comes through conscious repetition. To repeat a pose in yoga refining it each time, is to build new habits, so as to install refined and reflected techniques into our physical and psychological lives.
Repetition is the soul of insight. Every time you consciously repeat a pose with new information ­ utilizing origami folding, geometric measure and how one's body fits itself rather using familiar habits, ­ you evolve, you revolve and eventually your revolution becomes truly revolutionary and changes your awareness of who you are.: Revolution becoming revelation. While I still don't have a crisp response that describes Katonah yoga, my best counsel is: Come to class and we will help you have a revolution. 

Archetypal vs Personal: Poses practiced with personal information hold in damage while poses practiced with archetypal information release your magic


When I was six, our piano - that island of sitka spruce and yellow birch regally inhabiting a third of our living room and echoing through our entire neighborhood - called to me. It was large and gorgeous, and I wanted the alchemy of its majesty and the richness of its sound to be mine. I wanted that big sound to come through me, instead of through my siblings. My first piano teacher told me that I had a good ear, which I assumed meant that, as a six-year-old, I was already a virtuoso. In reality, I knew nothing of technique or skill or of refining whatever gifts I had started with. What a buzzkill when I was asked to play, for protracted hours, every scale to "Mary Had a Damn Little Lamb." When would I get to play a Beatles song or Beethoven? My music book, Songs for Tots, had sailboats and stars on its pages. I was ready for the kind of music my parents took seriously. It took 10 years of scales, repetition, studying theory and revolting recitals where all the kids were playing "Moonlight Sonata" -- most of them better than me -- to feel as though I had developed any technique at all to finally play Chopin, Debussy, or Bach. At that point, I was ready for college and all I really wanted to play was Joni Mitchell. Even though she wasn't playing classical, for which I was trained, I had technique which allowed me to expand my repertoire. I had formulas and codes, I could sight read and I had dexterity from hours of practice. I knew how to approach a piece of music. I knew how to read signatures, timing, notes and rhythm. I had become familiar with the archetypes for playing music, and this is how I was able to grow as a musician.
        It is the same with yoga. To use an archetype as a reference is the foundation of a well-informed yoga practice. An archetype can be a number, an animal, a geometric shape, or any pattern in nature like the pattern found in wood, in jade, or in the seasons. An archetype represents an ideal and an ideal yoga pose has a specific measure, a shape, a fit. An archetypal dog pose, for example, is a 60 degree triangle, which sets up the conditions for strength, structure and stability. Lungs and liver come forward while kidneys fully open in the back. Arms are shoulder distance while feet are hip distance and knees are bent, enabling the hips to rise in order to find the zenith of the pose. 
  Following the formal patterns of a yoga pose puts you in a position to cultivate a deeper physical awareness, as you must override your own propensities and transcend the personal. These techniques are your recipe, your musical score. Whether it's a dog pose, a warrior pose, or a wheel, real technique provides a template to embody, rather than stretching or feeling our way into a pose, or imitating a teacher who is demonstrating. We can use archetypal technique everywhere in our lives - brushing your teeth so that your teeth won't fall out, making a souffle by recipe that won't collapse, or following a business plan that promotes success rather than mere survival. Having techniques is what it means to develop real skills, which, when faced with a challenging class, will be exhilarating to deploy and use rather than surviving by the seat of your pants. 
  The effort to embody a physical archetype employs the imagination to achieve a form, the pose at its optimum. By working consciously, we open up a field of experience previously unknown, which in turn helps us grow. For example, all twists require a 180 degree turn to each side, a revolution on a plumb line (axis mundi), and breathing on the side that your head is facing, so that one is flushing a kidney and opening up the opposite lung. By doing the twist formally, you are opening your entire body to the experience, something you don't normally do. If you only go halfway around without completing the 180 turn, you won't get the goodies that referring to the archetypal 180 degrees offers. Opening up a lung is like ope ning a window, which opens up a vision to see more, smell more, perceive more, and access a new field of imagination for greater capacity and exuberance. In th is way, you can participate in your own health. And if you are a musician, you can play with other musicians, or play for grandma, and even alternate between Elton John and Bach. 
If one does yoga without a reference (a recipe, pattern, formula, map), the practice is less conscious, measured, and articulated. Your practice will only go as far as your unconscious habits, imagination, and personal effort can take you. I recently attended a yoga class where the well-intentioned teacher instructed us to stretch, reach, have an open mind, and imitate the way she performed. While she demonstrated beautiful poses, we weren't instructed to orient ourselves within any archetype. Much like reading a map, knowing how to orient oneself in time and space helps us understand where we are going, how to go there, and maybe most importantly, why we are traveling there at all.
Often, new students come to class with past injuries and request "modifications" in order to make their efforts less arduous, to allow them to alter the practice and for the poses to mollify their wound; to their dismay, I tell them that in order to renovate or re-inform whatever is damaged, torn, pulled, or bruised, the trick is to use the piece of the puzzle that popped out with better information so that they can heal. We diminish ourselves by trying to protect what is compromised or injured. Not using our trashed shoulder, knee, hip, or wrist the way it's designed to be used will eventually do us in. If your heart is broken by your last relationship, you don't stop dating, you use the information from your emotional wound to refine your technique. Maybe next time you won't be such an emotional lubber and you might make better contact. In other words, reframe yourself. 
         Meanwhile, back in the doghouse, in our struggle to conform to this ideal dog pose, we shed the effort that comes with adapting personal style and instead reference the archetype which tells us where to go. One doesn't alter the practice to fit oneself - one alters oneself to fit the practice. I explain to a student who is in pain from an injury to use a formula to renovate their damaged structure, rather than to use a personal technique that allows them to avoid pain. When we surrender our struggles to the formality of the practice, we are given the opportunity to supercede our personal techniques that damaged our knee or torqued our ankle in the first place. When we shed our investment in the personal, and do poses formally - in referencing an archetype - we can make contact with the universal, gaining insights that weren't available to us before. In this way, we become aware of how to specifically re-direct our efforts to rehabilitate, straighten, correct, and restructure our body's frame. This is the process by which we reinform our organs, glands, bones, and body chemistry to function more efficiently. So that rather than working harder, we work smarter, with techniques that measure up.
           This is the work in a yoga pose. A pose is never static, it's dynamic. A pose is a channel for energy to move through you, waking up every fiber of your being. Referencing an ideal pose becomes a therapeutic technique for re-informing a deformed form, for straightening out a crooked wrist, for rehabilitating a torn shoulder. And because the wonky wrist and the torn shoulder house the lungs, by adjusting the shoulder and the wrist, one is actually addressing the function of the lung. So in renovating the wrist and the shoulder (the frame), the stability of the whole person is ultimately altered. 
Within our practice, the information found on the right side of your body is pragmatic, while the information found on the left is esoteric. Information found in the territory of lungs (grief, sadness, exuberance, expansiveness) is different from that of the liver (creativity, vision, neurology). If your shoulder hurts, for example, and you know how to rotate that corner so that your collar bone sits properly, you might discover that not only are you using your wrist and collarbone incorrectly, but the lung housed underneath it is being compromised. If you reposition the shoulder, so it works as a real frame, it becomes a better vessel for the lung. Now you are in territory that will give you real information, which can lead to an actual reformation. Doing what feels good or what is painless, when all you have are your feelings, is information that is personal and only referenced from habits and personal damage. If you reference the archetype of a pose rather than your own feelings, your practice has options beyond that which you already know or think you know.
"I'm trying" is often uttered in a yoga class, but rather than working harder at something you are already doing, the first step in getting an insight is giving up the habit of your compensatory skills. If you can let go of your yoga tricks like clenching your butt, using your flexibility, muscling the pose - no easy feat - you'll probably begin to discover that your poses aren't holding up without them. Don't despair. The next step is to use a formula, like a recipe for baking, a score with which to play music, a map to find your way, in order to develop techniques that not only hold up better, but that will promote stability, ability, and imagination.
              When we're not getting what we want in our practice, or anything else in life, we are often loathe to find another angle, pierce a new veil, develop a new skill, and re-direct our efforts. The familiarity of how we have always performed our work is often confused with what is correct or safe, when in reality it only perpetuates habits. It often takes profound self-awareness to change the way we practice. Most of us suffer an injury, a crisis, some form of wake-up call before we are willing to alter the way we were trained or to shift away from what comes "naturally".Rather than finding one's way by feeling or intuition or imitation, the skill of orientation tells you where you are and how to redirect yourself so that you can get where you want to go and be who you want to be.


Beginning Your Practice in Pigeon Pose: Establish Your Ground of Being

          Many yoga students are appalled when asked to start a yoga class in a pigeon pose. Some have been taught that before setting up any pose, one should "warm up" with 108 chatarungas, sun salutations or with a good stretch. At Katonah Yoga we work in the bones and joints, the structure, and the best way to warm them up is to fold.  A pigeon establishes one's ground of being.
           One's ground of being starts from ground zero; the perineum making contact, plugging in and finding the ground. Your legs are the pillars of your perineum. Think of the right foot as the male root, the left foot as the female root so that your perineum is like the third foot which is you; the integration of your male and female aspects, your personal ground.


            The perineum for women is located between the pubis and anus - it's the opening of the vagina. The perineum for men is between the coccyx and the genitals. The lower body, one's pelvis, is your stability. It's like the foundation of a building, or the root of a plant; it sets up a pattern that all future growth follows. It is by making contact, perineum on a surface, that you substantiate yourself.
           If you were a radio, you would ground your wires in order to move your current (energy) through, plugging it in (lower body) before using the dial (the upper body) or setting up the antenna (your head). You wouldn't build the penthouse without building the foundation first. By establishing a ground, descending into the depths becomes a  requirement for ascending to ones heights. So why try to turn the radio on before plugging it in?
             Grounding the lower body in a pigeon pose allows us to orient ourselves in time and space. Like a clock, if the perineum is the center, the pubis is 12:00, the coccyx is 6:00, the right hip is 3:00 and the left hip is 9:00. By orienting our lower bodies within a wide circumference, we can find weightlessness in our upper bodies; which is how we get the yummies out of the pose.
              A pigeon struts around in a backbend, a body lifting off and taking flight. A backbend is the pubis, navel and sternum coming forward and up. Consider the front body is one's potential while the back body is the past. In order to move forward in life, to take flight, one sets up their memories (the back) to support the future (the front). One does not change themselves by manipulating the past, or by bending back. It is the front body substantiated by the lower body, where one begins to come forward into the future

           Therapeutic and spiritual work is often counterintuitive. If we knew how to change ourselves, how to have full lungs, a voluminous heart and liver that filters, we would have done it already and we'd all be well adjusted and we wouldn't need yoga. But real transformation comes from knowing your own blind spots, opening up a field of awareness that is unknown to you and making choices that contradict your habits. In this way you, the student, become the person who benefits from the poses rather than the poses conforming to whatever already suits you.
             By conforming to the formal practice, the student gains an awareness of the personal propensities that keep him or her from living consciously. Thus to start a practice in a pigeon we emulate this bottom feeding bird by substantiating our roots, which enables us to embody their avian nature in order to rise above ourselves so that eventually we can all dwell in the field of the imagination, which is the purpose of it all.




Have you always been able to do a lotus?


When I started my yoga practice years ago, I lusted after the lotus pose, convinced that the man I was dating would fall in love with me. So impressed, he might even pay attention to me and listen to my deep thoughts about life. As I toiled - as I do - I glanced over (a lot) at my then-boyfriend and saw how effortlessly he slid into the pose, closing his eyes and disappearing into his own reveries, lost to me. 
He introduced me to all things spiritual, poetic, and esoteric. I was his student, eager for wisdom, insight, and affection. My pursuit of this apparently elevated being's affection fueled my efforts to shove myself into lotus. Instead of leaving me in the throes of knee pain, I would one day join him in his depths and share his experience of enlightenment. 

Lotus would deliver me, and make me a legit yogi instead of a homesick college freshman calling home eight days a week.

Alone in my dorm room, I stuffed myself into the pose. I then greased my arms with Vaseline and rammed them through the stubborn gap between my legs, proving I could have perfect posture and be free of diseases. What more could anyone ask of me?
I spent every night mastering this feat. One day on the way to weekly yoga class he introduced me to macrobiotic food, explaining that it was a must if I were going to be with him. I wanted to crave soba noodles and have my skin turn grey from this macro diet just like all the skinny girls in class. 
One weekend, we went to Kripalu for chanting with the Hari Krishnas. I cringed when he couldn't carry a tune, and he embarrassed me by singing louder than everyone else. I come from a family of great singers and good manners; I would be mortified if I sounded like that, but in that moment nothing commanded my attention more than the urgent spiritual work I had to do. I had no idea that the lotus, while worth aspiring to, comes as a result of the achievement of many other postures. All I wanted was to perform my new stunt. But alas, my hopeful audience of one was swallowed whole by the sitar music, and I lost track of him altogether after the first half hour when he'd sidled up to the guru, leaving me in the back with all the other losers, the ones without the right outfit, Sanskrit name, or shaved head. So there I was, going after a lotus for which I had no map and after a man who I pursued with an equally misguided technique. 
Hours later, I ended up not where I had hoped to be, showing off my lotus to Mr. Macrobiotic, but on a grassy slope near his car so he wouldn't leave without me. And as I sat and waited I had nothing to do but take full measure of this man, The Hari Krishnas, myself, and my greasy lotus. We drove home in silence and the following week he dumped me for a waitress at the Broome Street Bar. So she got him but I got my Lotus. 

40 years later I sent my nephew Julian to share Passover with old friends. He reported to me afterwards that he met a man there who captivated him all night. When I hounded Julian for details, he reported that Mr. Macro was fat, twice divorced, and complained to him about his sciatica. If only he still had his lotus.

As much as my lotus ordeal humiliated me and left me hankering for its nectar, it launched my young self on a path to developing an inner life. And as I am prone to beat a dead horse, I stayed with the lotus, even though I didn't have the twelve other poses that should be mastered before it. I had no technique to make my lotus possible. So instead of hog-tying myself, per usual, I began to read Freud, EF Schummacher, and Rob Pirsig, and was soon comforted by the Buddhists, the Hindus, and the Egyptians, who corroborated my need for a solid lotus. These ancients considered the lotus flower a representation of our longing for spiritual enlightenment. 
The Egyptian Book of the Dead is said to include spells that are able to transform a person into a lotus, thus allowing for resurrection and personal renewal. As myths hold truth, this mythic idea beckoned me. When my hips gave way, and I solidly felt the seat underneath me, this manifested my own renewal. I felt that I had become the lotus. 
The Hindus describe the flower that emerges out of muddy waters, un-spoilt and pure each morning, as the emblem of possibility for personal transformation. But as students who are developing technique we want to embody it, become it, not just represent it. Of all the yoga postures, the lotus demands the most rigorous technique. 
And just like every other archetype, it is ours to embody if we come to class, stay on the mat, participate, measure up, develop good boundaries, and fight the depth of our unconscious propensities. It's a life's work. 
The reason we modern practitioners want to embody the archetype of a lotus, is that we are using our bodies as a conduit to change our lives. The value of a lotus pose is to guarantee that we won't unravel. And as it is my propensity to harp, if your body doesn't unravel, neither will you.
When a lotus is measured well, the legs are folded so that they are bound with a central bolt. Your hips, knees, and ankles are cross-referenced so that your pelvis is tied together. Much like a pair of shoelaces, criss-crossed to tie a good knot so that your shoes won't fall off, a lotus bind ties up your pelvis so your hips don't come apart. 

Lotus provides a way to tone up your kidneys by building the pelvic floor. A lotus will hold you together. It adds fluency to the hips, demanding a form that flushes energy through ankles, knees, and hip joints, much like a closed electrical circuit functions. And, while at first one fights for the proper form of the bind, the real benefit is the flow, the energy, the currency that moves through your body all bound up. Real freedom is found in confinement. A good lotus will help you address your metabolism (thyroid), flush your toilets (kidneys), adjust your vision (liver), open your windows (lungs), and refine your speech (heart). 
A pose like lotus is difficult at first ("at first" could mean years) because it demands a certain amount of pliancy in the joints and a measured process of origami pleating in order to fold one's legs in that pretzel-like bind, instead of stuffing yourself in and mistaking a squish for a good fit. Once we've slid in, the lotus makes other poses easier. A headstand or shoulder stand with legs in lotus gives those poses with no folds a surge of power. A cobra with legs in lotus opens the front of your pelvis, yielding a richer backbend and a fuller arch from intestines to lungs. A twist sets up a double helix, flushing kidneys much like squeezing a sponge. In a lotus, the same twist sets up a curve that is exponentially delicious.

And not to worry if you don't have your lotus yet. If you are sitting at a right angle, on your perineum, in your hip joints, in the center of your sphere, you will never need Vaseline.

Why do we lie back on blocks or thread ourselves through a chair before class?

  Before class we encourage our students to use chairs and blocks for back bend  variations in  order to set up conditions for taking pressure off of one's lower back, opening up ones lungs and setting up a vision that  supports neurology, thereby attaining a backbend without one's usual effort or one's personal propensities. The blocks act as scaffolding to one's structure rather than asking students to come in and stretch themselves.  O ur supported backbends   are part of ones effort to tune one's instrument, open up the valves, adjust one's strings, make sure you are not flat or sharp, in preparation to use oneself as a participant in an orchestra.   Tuning the instrument allows one to participate in one's own well-being, resulting in an orientation of center and circumference.  This alerts our senses to what is deep within and directly without.  With proper boundaries,   disorder is organized, corners meet, strings have proper string tension so that when you play, the music is harmonious.  
           When we come to class we come to participate in community. We're asked to shed our first nature -- unconscious, habitual patterns which, as individuals, we unthinkingly identify with - and conform instead, to something counter-intuitive, foreign, and outside our frame of reference. What we call the "personal" is an elaborate intuition programmed after years of reacting to this capricious, exciting world. It's the way the body has come to operate on auto-pilot, sitting cross-legged on one butt, standing on one leg, favoring one direction, walking bow-legged, knocked kneed, slouching the shoulders, cocking one's head, etc...The act of measuring up in class, engaging our sheer awareness, working consciously, is the moment we engage our second nature, our most alert and conscious state. We can observe and process what is otherwise automatic and unnoticed. We learn techniques through asana, a highly conscious practice, to help us override the habitual first nature and become stable, competent, and imaginative. The use of props serve as formal boundaries rather than personal effort. 
            To reform one's first nature is to agitate and disturb this delicate status quo. It can be demanding and even painful.   Many of us navigate life as warriors, doers, achievers, perfectionists. Supported poses afford a moment of peace, engaging in the art of being rather than doing. Scaffolding with blocks, chairs, or poles allows one to let go of one's unconscious investment in habit and instead provide a supportive way to inform the body. One's structure is supported  for a determined length of time so that bodily fluids and  circuitry can move more freely through our bones, organs, and glands, thus facilitating the body's flow of internal energy.
Winter Becomes Spring: Back-bending Out of The Past
             A natural part of  life is that our bodies degrade over time. As we get older, our back starts to creep over the front, our vision blurs, our bones thin. One's future shortens, while the past only grows, and our sense of moving forward steadily dims. As we age we progressively lose touch with the exterior, while our interior life becomes richer.  Embedded in our greater journey is a repeated cycle of growth and decay that aligns with the four seasons. During Winter, we burrow for warmth, we consume heavy, heat-producing foods, and we open up our bodies with much less frequency and fervor. The liver bears a heavy load as the purveyor of our internal cleanliness.
Backbends help flush the liver and clean it. As we enter Spring, supported poses help rejuvenate the organs , taking pressure off where we habitually sit in our backs and setting up the structure so that the lungs and liver open up in the front. Supported backbends offer an opportunity to orient ourselves on a spit, a plumb line, a tai chi, setting up a center in order not to get lost in time and space. Biochemically, we are shifting the terrain, after crawling into ourselves during winter, tilling the soil, as it were, from where a sprout can grow.  
        The back is meant to support potential rather than diminish it. Supported backbends help establish one's stability (lower body) and open one's front body (torso), while setting up a vision (head). Boundaries(props) diminish the effort and muscle required for good form. Binding the legs as well, create a closed circuit flushing the hips, knees and ankles . A backbend takes considerable effort and is usually the pinnacle of any sequence.  When the front is opened fully, the articulation of the arches are fully expressed. Consequently the lungs are ventilated and pressure is taken off the kidneys. 
         A block under ones lower back takes the pressure off the roots by elevating the pelvis so that the front body(potential) becomes available. Elevating one's lower body takes pressure off the bottom by oxygenating the pelvis, flushing the liver, engaging the lungs by opening them in the front, making it easier on the heart (by giving it more space), and creating a cross breeze in the body.
Blocks under upper back:  Sitting in baddha  konasana and laying back on four  blocks supports the back, taking pressure off of the kidneys, sending the lungs to the front of the body and supporting the neck to free up the vision.  The neck becomes a funnel from the lungs into the thyroid and up to the antenna. The thyroid governs the ability to self-express, to ventilate well and to regulate our chemistry.
Blocks under lower back (supported bridge):  Lie on your back, lift the pelvis with a block vertically underneath the sacrum, as though  jacking up the rear end of the car. In this way, you can pump up the back tires (kidneys) with air, taking pressure off the lower back, opening up the front of the pelvis and feeding breath to the kidneys. This calms down the adrenals. Positioning the knees and ankles at right angles substantiates the hips. The front of the thighs (bottom window) is where the backbend is initiated.
Supported fish:  Sit in virasana with a block under the shoulder blad es (just  above bra line). Ideally, the crown touches the floor allowing the pineal gland to make light contact. The pineal gland is like a homing device.

Supported supta virasana: Place the legs through a chair laying back on the seat while holding the feet. The backbend creates a closed circuit of energy throughout the form. This allows the nervous system to calm down, the liver to stretch, the lungs to open and the eyes to flush. Thereby  

glands are restored, reset, and renewed.


Supported backbends help facilitate a good nervous system. The above series of backbends restore energy by refueling our internal reserves of current.  The imagination is used to set up a stable structure so that breath can move through it.  This sequence unites the mind, the body and the breath in preparation to participate in a conscious practice.

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