By Louise Burton
Heart-opening, uplifting, energising Ustrasana embodies the essence of Beltane.
– Opens the chest and shoulders;
– Lengthens the spine;
– Stretches the abdomen;
– Works the feet and legs.

Heart problems, high blood pressure or serious illness.
Menstruation and pregnancy.
Injured back or knees: practise with certified teacher.

Kneel with the knees, thighs and feet together: tuck the toes under for first practice (foot is flat for more intense work). Hands on the back hips, extend the trunk evenly upwards.
With shoulder blades in and down, arch back: Take the hands to the heels (or soles), fingers pointing back. If you can’t reach the feet, either keep the hands on the back hips, place a block or two on the calves to contact or reach back to a chair.
Bring the thighs back to perpendicular. Keep lifting the back ribs and increasing the curve of the upper back.
Ino neck strain is felt, take the head back. Keep the eyes quiet and don’t hold the breath.
Stay 15-20 seconds.
To come out of the pose: Inhale, lift using the buttock muscles, hands back to hips then finally head back to centre. If you feel a little dizzy, rest forward. A nauseous feeling may occur because the liver is being stretched, but this is not a cause for alarm.
Rest in Virasana (See Pose of the Month for this Spring Equinox) before repeating two or three times.
After backbends release the spine carefully, with a gentle twist or forward bend such as Janu Sirsasana (See Pose of the Month for Samhain, 2018).

* Louise is a Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher offering private yoga tuition(individuals, or 1:2s). Beginners welcome. Louise is running a 4-week Iyengar Yoga Spring Course, Wednesdays at Goddess House from 15th May, 10.30am-12pm. Please contact her for details and to book (places are limited)