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Understanding the Elements of a Pose

By Max Avery


Parsva Bakasana


 Strength, flexibility and stability in the wrists, arms and shoulders

 Core strength and awakening of the abdominal muscles
 Absolute focus giving students a deep sense of dharana (concentration) in
their practice
 Extreme twist for the torso
 Students must also deal with a fear of falling and the desire of the ego to
appear in control, this can lead to the development of self-confidence and
also humility – good!

Drop Backs from Tadasana to Urdhva Dhanurasana


 Deep stretching across the entire front of the body, especially through the
heart centre, belly and groin
 Active legs and internal rotation of the femurs
 Anterior tilt of the pelvis to lengthen the lumbar spine and reduce pressure
on the lower intervertebral disks. Yes, Some teachers teach to posteriorly tilt
pelvis in back bends but I prefer anterior tilt
 External rotation of the shoulders and drawing the lower tips of the shoulder
blades in and up toward the heart to focus backbend in thoracic spine
 Back bend back bend back bend!
 Even pressure through both hands, active external rotation of arms and
expansion across the chest


Build up for Parsva Bakasana

 Adho Mukha Svanasana to open hip extensors this is a forward bend so

doesn’;t open hip extnesors as hip is at roughtly 90 degrees flexion here. and
stabilise hip flexors, shoulder stabilisers, arm rotators, elbow extensors and
wrist flexors. Good conditioning and awakening of muscle groups required
for arm balances and inversions
 Marichyasana C to open knee flexors?, hip extensors, obliques, shoulder
retractors and elevators; and to stabilise hip flexors, knee flexors, foot
dorsiflexors, abdominals and obliques. Also to set up the required twisting
 Chaturanga Dandasana to open wrist flexors, hip flexors and shoulder
elevators; and to stabilise elbow synergists, chest, shoulder stabilisers
(emphasis protractors, retractors, adductors and flexors), abdominals and
hip flexors. Strongly strengthens the wrists, arms and shoulders in
preparation for bringing more weight onto hands yes
 I would include a general warming practice to warm the body including sun
salutes where the cobra/updog and down dog can prep the upper body
correctly and sprinkle in lots of twists, standing: parvrtta trikonasana,
pavrtitta ardhachandrasana, and various seated or other twists

Build up for drop backs from Tadasana to Urdva Dhanurasana

 Anjaneyasana to open hip flexors, abdominals, chest, shoulder elevators and

extensors; and to stabilise internal rotators of leg, hip extensors and
adductors, transverse abdominis and external rotators of the arms. Use this
pose to focus on anterior rotation of the pelvis and expansion across the
upper back and chest
 Bhujangasana to open hip flexors, abdominals, chest, shoulder elevators and
wrist flexors; and to stabilise rotators of the arm, shoulder stabilisers, back
extensors, transverse abdominis and hip extensors. This pose teaches
internal rotation of thighs and to press the tail bone toward the heels, as
well as drawing the spine forward toward the heart expanding the chest
 Laghu Vajrasana (Little Thunderbolt Pose) practiced dynamically, slowly
moving down and up between Ustrasana and Kapotasana. Have students
gradually drop further back and then up again with grace and ease as they
wake the necessary muscles for each pose with its transitions. Good but I
would have liked you to include :
 Warm the body plenty – dynamic sun salute versions including up dog.
 Plenty of standing poses as all over body warmers, and you need to include
twists, lateral stretches and forward bends here to really mobilise the spine
before attempting such back bends.
 Shoulder warm ups. Gomukhasana has the top arm is in the right position
 Down dog practiced on the forearms – ditto., forearm balance – ditto
 Lunges for the front thigh lengthening

Counter pose sequence for Parsva Bakasana

 Balasana
 Supta Baddah Konasana
 Uttanasana or seated forward bends follow nicely if you don’t want to bring
your students up again.
 Viparita Karani
 Wrist Releases – yes
 A light, shorter hold backbend could be good to untwist the students too,
before some forward folding work

Counter poses for drop backs from Tadasana to Urdhva Dhanurasana good

 Apanasana
 Twists
 Supta Baddah Konasana
 Balasana
 Seated forward bends


Posture and exercise for less advanced students in place of Parsva Bakasana

 Bakasana: students to display ease and steadiness in Bakasana, rooting firmly

into the palms and with each exhalation renew the lifting of the belly towards
the spine while drawing the pubic bone back and up. Once stable, students
can begin experimenting with floating directly to Chaturanga Dandasana
 Hindu Hush-up: have student assume Adho Mukha Svanasana. Then as they
inhale, sweep the chest down toward the ground and then up into Urdhva
Mukha Svanasana, focus deeply on leading the heart forward, keeping the
shoulders down and inwardly rotating the thighs. Then on the exhale rise the
hips towards the sky and back into down dog, repeat this process of down
dog flowing to up dog for as long as you can maintain grace of movement and
ease of breath. This exercise will strengthen many of the necessary muscle
groups required for arm balance and inversion postures.
 Bow pose done the usual way will help you see if the student is ready for this
 Seated or other twists
 Dolphin practice to build shoulder strength
Build up in holding push up position, kneeling or otherwise Formatted: Indent: Left: 1", No bullets or numbering

Use a prop such as brick or bolster under forhead to help balance Formatted: Font: 12 pt
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Posture and exercise for less advanced students in place of drop backs from
Tadasana to Urdva Dhanurasana

 Urdva Dhanurasana: students must display ease and steadiness in Upward

Bow Pose with correct alignment of wrists under shoulders, straight arms,
feet parallel and knees aligned with the hips before moving on to the next
exercise good.
 Walking up and down the wall: students lie on their backs with their heads
touching the wall, bend their legs and place their hands beside their ears
then move into Urdva Dhanurasana. When arms are straight step feet
towards hands an inch or so then place one hand then the other on the wall
and push into it as you continue to walk up the wall. This sequence can be
repeated several times before students walk up and then back down again
without moving feet yes
 Drop back using wall as in your last point but starting from standing
 Practice in pairs or two students interlock wrists at sacrum to help third
student drop back
 Teacher support student in their drop back