After the darkest night and the shortest day, we feel gratitude now for the return of the Sun to grace Earth with its light and life-giving warmth.
As we celebrate with fire and joy the longer days to come and the fresh start that awaits us, I would like to offer a posture which resonates with the Winter Solstice and links with two of the other asanas I have presented this year. These connected poses are:
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dog Head Down) for the Summer Solstice
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) for the Autumn Equinox.
Anjaneyasana works well within a varied Sun Salutation sequence and feels a natural move from Adho Mukha Svanasana. It continues the work of Virabhadrasana II while offering a different way of practising and is good preparation work for the stronger and more demanding asana of Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I) as it stretches the front thighs and groins and encourages a full lift in the pelvis, chest and arms
- Improves balance, stability and core strength
- Opens the chest and rib cage
- Lengthens the spine
- Tones abdominal muscles and organs
- Works the shoulders and arms
- Strengthens the quadriceps
- Stretches the front thighs and groin
- Neck problems: Look ahead rather than upwards
- High blood pressure: keep the arms down – try hands on hips or in Namaskar instead
- Back problems: Ensure the trunk is lifted, and stop if there is any pain
- Pregnancy: This practice may help keep the core strong during pregnancy and improve muscle tone for delivery, but please be guided by your doctor or midwife
- From Adho Mukha Svanasana, bend the knees and let the heels come off the ground
- Look ahead and take a good step forward with your left (or right) foot. Bring the back knee to the floor, toes tucked under. Take the hands on to the hips.
- Take a moment to get your balance. Widen the posture until you feel a stretch in the back thigh and groin.Ensure the front knee is above the heel (this instruction is also important in Warrior II and Warrior I)
- Stretch the arms up beside your ears, palms facing each other. Don’t let the shoulders lift
- Lift the pelvis and frontal hip bones and lengthen the spine upwards. Try to take the dorsal spine in and open the chest more. Feel a stretch in the abdominals and whole front body
- Look up beyond your fingertips if there is no strain in the neck
- Breathe evenly, face relaxed, feeling the work in the legs and trunk and the expansive, appreciative quality of a Warrior’s Salute to the Sun
- Lower the arms after some moments and place the palms down either side of the front foot. Bend the knees and step the front leg back into a good Adho Mukha Svanasana. Hold for a breath or two before repeating on the opposite side
Work and Care in the Practice:
- Ensure the feet are wide enough apart to keep the front shin bone approximately perpendicular to the floor – this avoids strain on the knee
- Be careful not to sink into the posture – keep the trunk lifting. This action will become even more important in Warrior I to avoid strain on the lower back
- Keep the shoulder blades moving down, and maintain length from the ears to the shoulders.
* Louise offers 1:1 yoga tuition in the Iyengar method at Goddess House. Sessions are personalised according to her client’s needs and goals.