Archive for the ‘Poses’ Category

New Bhishma

September 11, 2019

Bhishma and the Bed of Arrows

Several years ago, I taught Bhishmasana as part of a restorative workshop at the Maha Padma Temple, Union Square, New York. Bishma surrendered to his fate, which was already ordained by Krishna. Stretched out on our yogis’ “bed of nails” and suspended in time, we surrendered to the moment, completely supported and utterly at peace.

Many stories are told in the Mahabharata of Bhishma. He was the son of a great king; he was also a yogi, a learned man and a great warrior. This particular story tells how Bhishma, unparalleled in the noble the art of archery was himself shot through by arrows as he fought in battle. As he fell, his whole body was held above ground by the shafts of these arrows, which protruded from his back and through his arms and legs. Bhishma was suspended this way for 40 days.
B.K.S. Iyengar tells us that Bhishma was kept alive for so long most likely because of the strategic positioning — similar to acupuncture points; behind the heart and at the coccyx — of the arrows.

Bishma meditated as he transitioned in a timely and dignified manner from the manifest world to the un-manifest, eternal world. Seeing Bhishma laid out on such a bed of arrows humbled even the gods who watched from the heavens in reverence, silently blessing the mighty warrior.

This settup from Pune is part of a set of poses given to students with heart problems.

Stephanie Quick was a mine of information on this subject.

“Guruji would refer to the poses in terms of them being psycho-somatic or somato-psychic. For the heart condition there is a 2 way flow; there is a downward flow from head to feet, and an up-liftment specifically to the heart, the heart is uplifted – but the head is kept at that savasana level”. Stephanie Quirk.

This is from a book called “BKS Iyengar. Yoga Wisdom And Practice”. Published by Dorling Kindersley. Sarapanjarasana. Bed of Arrows Pose. “When Bhishmasana was totally injured in Kuruksetra, he kept himasel alive with sheer willpower. He lay on a bed of arrows, known as Sarapanjara. But was it not a strain for him to lie on a bed or arrows? He preferred to lie in the same posistion. Why? Because he was supported by arrows at the cardiac nerve. The ventricle of the heart was supported and that brought him a restfull state. In the Institute (RIMYI), those who suffer from cardiac peoblems are asked to do this asana.

I asked Stephanie Quirk to clarify the two names: Sarapanjarasana and Bhishmasana. This is what she said:

“Sarapanjarasana is the original name. I once asked Prashant its meaning and he said pose of death”.

“It is called Sarapanjarasana in the 25th jubilee commemorative volume “Yogadhara” in an article by Mr Subramanium, about Gurujis treatment of his heart condition. Bishmacharyasana was termed by Guruji. I think Guruji linked the legend of Bishma to this pose because Bishma lay down on the bed of arrows to die – His name also means one who undertakes a terrible vow (bheeshma pratigya) and fulfills it. Bhishma has a boon from his father, Shantanu – to choose the time of his death. So he was shot full of arrows but waited to choose when to die – suitable for the heart patient – that the pose may bestow the chance to choose: “not now”.”

“Ive only ever seen the heart version in Pune, some with only little elevation esp in the early days but now more like a supported Salamba Purvottanasna”.

“When I first arrived in Pune, the pose was done with 3 bricks belted together under the buttocks and an inverted “T” shape arrangement of 2 bricks under the heart, and 2 bolster height under the head – the pose is a Savasana (even the heart versions) and placed at the end of the practice. The version with the head back below the heart make it “morph” more towards a viparita dandasana or pariankasana, and not a variant of Savasana”. Stephanie Quirk.

“I often see online students enjoying having the whole body elevated off the ground with bricks under all limbs. This is closley associated to savasana, and because of the precariousness of the position one stays aware/alert and vigilant (like Bhishma had to remain until death). I have never actually seen this in Pune – maybe you had earlier to my arrival – but my thought on this is that there were never enough bricks for so many people as there always is in Pune – I’ve only ever seen the heart version in Pune, some with only little elevation esp in the early days but now more like a Salamba Purvottanasna.
I like the reference of resting on the infinite ocean, but that is probably “Ananta-asana”, for Bhishma had an  infinite time to pass before he died, he had an unbreakable vow. Yes there is that feeling in the pose when up on all limbs – floating on the vast ocean – for the heart patient, it brought life and it also brought alertness and opened out from the centre of their consciousness – hridaya citta samvrtt”. Stephanie Quirk.

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Beijing, China: November 21 – 24, 2018

March 8, 2019

Workshop at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of China, Beijing

Practicing Uttanasana with the legs separated allows for more mobility and a deeper forward extension than when the legs are together.

Practicing Uttanasana with the legs together compresses the abdominal area against the thighs (except where the student has tight hamstrings, and the trunk moves away from the thighs). This massages the abdominals, and helps keep the area healthy.

Tadasana. To ensure that the abdominal organs move up, roll the tops of the thighs back and take the tailbone in.

Uttitha Trikonasana. Revolve the tops of the femur bones out at the sockets. This ensures that the thigh bones will move into the sockets in a healthy way.

Rope Sirsasana. To ensure a deep internal alignment of the abdominal organs, make sure the belt is place exactly on the sacral bone.

Parsvakonasana. Similarly to Trikonasana, turn the tops of the thighs out.

Ardha Chandrasana. Turn the trunk and pelvis away from the standing leg. Can you touch the lifted leg shoulder blade and buttock to the wall?

Parsva Upavista Konasana. Turn from the navel toward the front leg. Everything below the navel is influenced by the activation of the left foot — press out through the left foot big toe mound.

Sirsasana. To avoid eye pressure, be exactly on the center of the crown of the head. Press the forearms down. Lift the shoulders.

Chatush Padasana over a chair. Raise the pelvic area off the chair, and placing the trapezius on the front edge of the chair, curve it around the edge of the chair. The upper back/shoulder skin will  get dragged away from the head and area just below the collar-bones will open.

Supta Konasana/Chair Halasana. This gives low back relief. It’s also a better way to go for those with long spines, where it’s not so easy to climb through the chair.

Coming out of Viparita Dandasana over Crossed Bolsters. Allow the lower back to spread.

Bolster Supported Setu Bandasana. Make sure the shoulders just touch the floor (and that you haven’t slid too far off the bolster).

 

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Urmqi, China: November 14 – 18, 2018

March 3, 2019

Workshop at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of China, Urmqi

I arrived in a snow storm, which I was told was good luck.

Uttitha Padangustasana 2. In order to maintain the upward movement of the pelvic organs, move your lifted leg buttock forward, and your standing leg thigh back.

Urdhva Dhanurasana from a chair. Straighten the legs to standing.

Recovering from backbends:

Janu Sirsasana with Two Blocks, a Bolster and a Wall….

….and with a chair. To help maintain a quiet abdominal region, extend forward from the sides of the trunk, rather than the center.

Chair Sarvangasana with elbows hooked through the front legs. Here, the chair seat height has been increased to facilitate the extension of the spine.

Urumuqui is close to the Mongolian boarder.

This dancer kept the bowl on her head through her dance. Talk about balance!

Uger musicians.

This was such a happy evening!

 

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Guangzhou, China: November 8 – 11, 2018

February 28, 2019

Workshop at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of China, Guangzhou

This was a special beginner’s class. The simple instructions still work when teaching the standing (or any other) poses: From Uttitha Hasta Padasana, come into Trikonasana by extending the left side torso to the left, bringing it in line/parallel with the floor.

Parsvakonasana. Get the basic shape first — make a perfect square with the bent leg and the floor.

Virabhadrasana 1. Another square: Drop the bent leg hip to the level of the bent leg knee and simultaneously, raise the trunk and arms.

Planet woman!

 

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Glebe, Australia: October 25, 2018

February 21, 2019

Workshop at Glebe Iyengar Yoga

The streets in this suburb of Sydney are lined with bottle brush trees.

Fabulous lizards everywhere on this National Park walk.

Preparing for Hanomanasana. This student is not ready to practice Supta Virasana flat on the floor. Therefore, I am not pulling her leg up to a 90% angle from the floor.

Hanomanasana. Have enough support under the hands to lift the torso to an upright position.

Hanomanasana. Level the pelvic bones by rolling the back leg hip forward.

With Tamar Kelly, and Julia Pederson who hosted the workshop in Glebe.

This is the final photo in Julia Pederson’s new book Guruji BKS Iyengar and RIMYI in the 70s. Through the pictures taken at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) taken in the ’70s and the stories of his early students, this book gives an insight into the teaching and inspiration that has led Iyengar Yoga to be the worldwide phenomenon that it is today. Julia is looking for a publisher.

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Melbourne: October 5 – 7, 2018

February 11, 2019

Workshop at Yoga Atma

Adho Mukha Svanasana with arms back and block and belt.

Utana Baddha Konasana. This pose is particularly effective in creating space around lung and breast tissue. This pose features in my book, Yoga For Breast Care: what every woman needs to know.

I am coiling myself around the block, and getting ready….

…to hold onto a handy pair of ankles.

Sarvangasana. Roll your outer shoulders under. Press the outer/upper artms down and extend from outer shoulders to outer elbows. With the palms facing the floor, and the thumbs and forefingers separated, press the hands sharply between two ribs, and lift the back ribs. Clip the outer shoulderblades in.

Halasana. External rotation of the arms at the sockets. Iift from the inner groins.

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Jakarta: September 14 – 16, 2018

January 24, 2019

Workshop at C Studio Jakarta

We began the class with Parvritta Swastikasana.

Uttanasana with Head on Block.

Adho Mukha Svanasana.  Stand facing the wall with the rope slipped around your waist. Step over both sides of the rope with one leg, and then turn around to face away from the wall. Slide the knot down onto your sacrum. Bend your knees and fold forward into Adho Mukha Svanasana. Keep your heels at the wall and as close to the floor as you can. Reach your hands forward. The rope extends the lumbar spine toward the wall, while the hands draw the spine forward. These opposing movements extend the lumbar, decrease compression of the disc on the nerves and reduce low back pain. Turn toes in.

Working with a block between her hyper extended elbows helped reduce the pain in her arms that occured whenever she did this pose.

Salabhasana on the ropes.

Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana 1, with Back to The Wall and Pully Ropes.

Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana 2, with Back to The Wall and Pully Ropes.

Standing Twist to Wall with Pully Ropes.

My host, Rany Fetrix made t-shirts from my drawing.

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

Nova Petrópolis, Brazil: September 2016

January 8, 2017

A five day retreat in scenic Nova Petrópolis, Brazil.

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Mulabandasana (Root Lock Pose). Mula means the root, the base, the beginning, or the foundation.

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Bandha means a fetter, bond, or posture. A posture where the body from the pelvic floor to the navel is contracted and lifted up and towards the spine.

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Benefits: Exercises Muladhara Chakra. For men, it exercises the prostate gland and gonads. It helps correct hydrocele – fluid swelling of the scrotum, impotency, spermatorroea and sterility. It controls excessive sexual desire and helps to save energy. It therefore helps control and still the mind.

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For women (as well as men) it stretches the pelvic floor. When practiced with perfect alignment, it aligns the internal pelvic organs (uterus, fallopian tubes). It also elongates the inner thigh muscles and inner groins, mobilizes the hip joints, knees and ankles, and helps correct flat feet.

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Sit on one or more blocks, at the wall, in Dandasana. Then come to Baddhakonasana. Clear some space from inside the folded knees: with your thumbs, slide the flesh and muscles between the inner knees from inside to outside. Roll the upper calf muscles out. Insert your hands between your thighs and calves and clasp your outer feet.

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Raise your heels (move them away from you), keep your toes on the ground and pull your feet toward your perineum.

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Join your soles and heels.

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To maintain the upward position of the feet…

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…and the upward lift of the pelvis, and to bring the pubic bone level with the sacral bone,

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wedge a block or thickly folded blanket between your feet and pubic bone.

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Press your hands down on blocks at your side and lift the anterior spine. Contraindicated: knee or ankle injury.

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My little candy colored cabin.

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The hanging bridge that took me every morning from my cabin to the asana room.

© 2017 Bobby Clennell.

Bhishma

August 8, 2013

Many stories are told in the Mahabharata of Bhishma, the son of a great king and also a yogi, a learned man and a great warrior. This particular story tells how Bhishma, unparalleled in the noble the art of archery was himself shot through by arrows as he fought in battle. As he fell, his whole body was held above ground by the shafts of these arrows, which protruded from his back and through his arms and legs. Bhishma was suspended this way for 40 days.

B.K.S. Iyengar tells us that Bhishma was kept alive for so long most likely because of the strategic positioning — similar to acupuncture points; behind the heart, at the coccyx — of the arrows.

Bishma meditated as he transitioned in a timely and dignified manner from the manifest world to the un-manifest, eternal world. Seeing Bhishma laid out on such a bed of arrows humbled even the gods who watched from the heavens in reverence, silently blessing the mighty warrior.

I taught Bhishmasana as part of a restorative workshop at the Maha Padma Temple, Union Square, New York. Restorative yoga teaches us to be in the asana longer and penetrate deeper. It allows us to be to become familiar with a deeper level of internal practice and it prepares us for pranayama.

Bishma surrendered to his fate, which although already ordained by Krishna, was not violent. Stretched out on our yogis’ “bed of nails” and suspended in time, we surrendered to the moment, completely supported and utterly at peace.

Practice this pose and see how it makes you feel. The student, whose feet were placed apart on separate blocks and belted to stop them flopping out, said  she felt as if she were floating. After this picture was taken I lowered the blocks under her arms which helped create more space in her chest.

It’s a wonderfully cooling pose in the hot weather!

A modified version of this pose is often given in the medical classes at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), Pune, India, to help those with heart problems.

Bhishmacharya

Photo by my host at Maha Padma Temple, Veronica Alicia Perretti