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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Quotes

Question: ‘I’m trying very hard in my practice but don’t seem to be getting anywhere.’

Answer: ‘This is very important. Don’t try to get anywhere in the practice. The very desire to be free or to be enlightened will be the desire that prevents your freedom.

— The Venerable Ajahn Chah