When we practice the āsana of yoga we get to experience awkward, fun, interesting, and sometimes scary sensations. We test the limits of our physical and emotional experience. In this PowerPose, we plunge into the unknown with an open heart. This can seem big, even daunting, but when we take a step back, when we look at our lives and our practice, we see that we’ve done it before. Maybe not exactly, but we’ve probably had a similar experience or sensation in the past. This can make the unknown seem a little less scary, a little more accessible.
Each time we practice and we move outside of our comfort zone, we widen our range of experience. This can translate to moving out of our comfort zone when we are off of the mat. Plunging into the unknown might still be scary and challenging, but at least we can be willing to try. Maybe take a small plunge or two. If we don’t, who knows what we’ll be missing?
To get ready for the physical plunge of an Ūrdhva Dhanurāsana Dropback, be sure to prime the body for a big back bend. You can use the three building blocks of this series, Parivṛitta Anjanayāsana, Pīncha Mayūrāsana Prep, and Ūrdhva Dhanurāsana, to prepare.
Try these variations of the plunge:
Option 1: Standing Ūstrāsana. Stand with the feet at hip distance and toes forward. Root through the feet and lift through the pelvic floor. Place the hands on the back at the hips with the fingers pointing down, coax the tailbone to reach long towards the floor. Lift the spine like it’s being sucked up through a straw, then lift the heart toward the chin. Slide the ears back and reach through the crown of the head. Try to eliminate that “roller coaster” feeling in the neck, face, and jaw, by pressing through the back of the head and softening through the face. You may need to lift out slightly to find relief.
Option 2: Arms Over Head. Reach the arms over head, clasp them together, and extend pointer fingers. Find the same lift as Standing Ūstrāsana. Use the length of the arms to encourage and extended spine. Find connection from the rooting of the feet all the way through to the fingers. As you lift back to standing reestablish the length, the danda of the spine.
Option 3: Walk Hands Down the Wall. Stand about an arm’s length away from the wall. Approach the wall from option 1, option 2, or with hands at the heart. Lift the heart and slide the ears back. When you reach your maximum extension and you can see the wall, reach the hands to the wall. Pause. This reach to the wall can feel like a huge leap of faith. Be sure to breath as you find the wall. Press the hands into the wall, shrug the shoulders away from the ears, hug the elbows towards the midline and reach the tailbone long. If you are able, walk the hands further down the wall reaffirming alignment as you increase the back bend. Take a few breaths when you find your peak. Slowly, walk the hands back up the wall.
Option 4: Standing Ūstrāsana Dropback. Keep working with the support of the wall, gradually moving a little further away and making the initial placement of the hands a little further down. When you are ready to move from the wall, have an experienced practitioner or instructor assist you. (They stand facing you in a Warrior I stance with their front foot in between your feet and hands supporting your hips. They should do no more than slightly slow your movement to the floor.) With control find extension and the back bend, taking the hands directly to the floor. Take a few breaths. To exit lower the hips and shoulders to the floor and pause.
Experience life to its fullest. Take the plunge into the unknown with an open heart.
Always work where you feel comfortable and find the right amount of challenge for you. Follow this #PowerPose challenge @suzannewrightyoga on Instagram or at Suzanne Wright Yoga on Facebook. If you post your pictures or about your experience be sure to tag #PowerPose and @suzannewrightyoga.