As we move through our practices and our days, we need moments to pause and integrate. In humble surrender, we bring our heads below our hearts and lay down our wilful ego so that a deeper, wiser intelligence may move through us. This is one of the many gifts of the Extended Child Pose.
Deeply introverted, like being back in the womb, this pose is a necessary resting and rejuvenation pose between more vigorous asanas. When done correctly, it will exquisitely lengthen your spine vertebra by vertebra. It will open and ease your hips and knees, giving them greater flexibility. It will give your internal organs a massage, while providing a field in which to integrate your experiences thus far, before continuing to the next asana in your practice – or the next part of your busy day.
We have been exploring the playful, fluid motion of your spine through the Cat pose. In this month’s issue, you will deepen that flow with the addition of the Extended Child pose. In the sequence below, you will move into Extended Child Pose, then discover how to integrate that flow with the Cat Pose flow.
Please begin by at least doing Savasana and The Breathing Wave prior to this practice. Then roll onto your side and come up onto all fours. Practice the Cat pose before proceeding with the exercise below.
Remember to practice in a gentle flow, following your own natural breath rhythm, neither rushing nor forcefully slow. Be mindful of your movement and aware of your sensations, and how your breath actually animates your body – not your personal will. Enjoy each moment as you witness one pose moving into the next, as though the breath were doing all the work for you. As your practice deepens, you will find that there is no point at which one pose or one breath stops before the next begins. In a beautifully interconnected dance of life, it all simply is.
- From all fours, rest your buttocks back onto your heels, allowing your spine to roll and rest forward over your thighs, so that you are in a fetal position. Your forehead rests on the floor.
- Outstretch the arms in front of you, palms flat on the floor.
- Take a few long, delicious breaths, as your belly rises on the inhale. Draw life-force energy into your body-being. Sense that there is a whale spout at the crown of your head and draw the energy in through it, down your spine towards your tailbone.
- Exhale and feel life-force energy move back up, through your central channel, and out your whale spout. Allow the crown of your head to float away from your tailbone on the exhale.
- Feel your arms lengthen out of the spine as you exhale. Notice how that length ripples right through and out of your finger tips.
- As you breathe in through the whale spout and down the spine, and breathe out up the spine and out the whale spout, notice too how your breath and life-force energy also travel through your arms and out your hands. Let your arms feel spacious, like tubes of breath. Allow your hands to feel like energy-healing hands. Allow life force to flow through them and out into the ground.
- Then go deeper and feel your whole body as a tube of breath. Sense your breath and life-force energy move through your whole body/being.
- Remain in this position and focus on your breath for some time.
- When you are ready, on your next exhale, let your back round and rise into an arc while on all fours again, pressing your palms into the ground.
- Then inhale and open up your chest, rolling through your lower back, middle back, upper back and head, mindful of each movement, vertebra by vertebra, guided by your breath. Still on your inhale, open your chest, press your hands into the ground, and lift up and out of your shoulders into Cat Pose.
- On the next exhale, round your back, bring your hips to your heels, back into Extended Child Pose.
- On the next inhale, round back up, open up your chest, press your hands into the ground, and lift up and out of your shoulders, into Cat Pose again.
- Then exhale, hips back down to heels, into Extended Child Pose.
- Follow your breath rhythm. As you inhale, you are opening up the chest, lifting up into Cat Pose. As you exhale, round the back, hips to heels, back into Extended Child.
- See if you can allow these two postures to become a fluid expression, animated by your breath.
- Notice the turnover from inhale to exhale, and allow it to feel as cyclical and rhythmic as possible.
- Enjoy the sensation of moving from one posture to the next in a fluid-like continuum.
- Continue this practice for as long as you would like. When you have had enough, conclude with Extended Child Pose and remain there for a few breaths before moving on to your next asana or closing your practice by rolling onto your back for Savasana.
Known as the Positive Possibilities Lady, Parvati inspires magnificence through music, yoga, words and activism. An award-winning musician, Parvati brings joy and hope to top 40 radio with her celestial pop songs “I Am Light”, “Yoga in the Nightclub”, and “Shanti Om”. Founder of “YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine” and author of “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie: A Revolutionary Life Makeover for the Sincere Spiritual Seeker”, Parvati has been featured on radio and television talk shows and news and wellness magazines globally. She is the founder of Parvati.org, a not-for profit dedicated to realizing MAPS: The Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary to help stop global warming. More about MAPS, free YEM videos, self-help articles, her music and more at parvati.tv and parvati.org.