Purvottanasana/intense front stretch

(eastern stretch)

  1. Sit back with your legs stretched out in front of you and your hands placed just behind your buttocks, with your fingertips facing forwards towards your feet.
  2. Bend your legs at the knees and ankles so that you can just about reach the floor with the balls of your feet.
  3. Now focus strongly on the top of the upper back and draw it in as you lift up your pelvis and tip the head back following the up and back movement of the chest.
  4. Stay for a few breaths only, absorbing the mind in the shoulder joints and the upper back.
  5. Repeat once more with clearer focus on the three-part cycle, below.

DURATION: Ten breaths maximum.
FOCUS: When coming into the asana and throughout your stay, you should be working in a three-part cycle which flows back into itself:

  1. Use the backwards movement of the head to draw the lower neck and upper back in
  2. Draw over the chest.
  3. Elongate and arch the neck.

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Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.

— The Buddha