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Ubhaya = Both · Pada = Foot · Angusta = Big Toe · Asana = Pose
Tones your abdomen; applies acupressure to your big toes (which relate to head and brain health in Chinese reflexology).
From Down Dog, exhale and step (or jump) forward to sit down. Extend your legs straight out in front of you. Lie on your back, firm your legs together, and point your toes. Press your arms against the floor by your sides with palms facing down. Gently draw in your waist on all sides.
On an inhalation, keep your legs together and lift them all the way overhead to the floor behind you. Flex your feet so that your toe tips touch the floor, with the soles of your feet facing away from your back. On an exhalation, reach your arms overhead to hold your big toes with your second and third fingers and your thumbs (as you did in Supta Padangusthasana). Try to reach your hips high over your head, and keep your arms and legs straight. Reach up actively through your low back and hips, and lengthen through your heels. On an exhalation, draw in all sides of your waist.
Very gently, press off the balls of your feet, letting a smooth and continuous inhale carry your body up to a balanced seated position. Maintain a firm hold on your big toes, and keep your arms and legs straight along the way.
Once balanced, draw your kneecaps up, and firm your thigh muscles, allowing a slight internal rotation of your upper thighs. Press through the balls of your feet, relax your toes (spreading them slightly) and lift your chest. Move your spine slightly toward the front of your body, without thrusting your rib cage forward. Look up toward your third eye. At the end of each exhalation, gently draw in your low belly, breathing freely into your chest, ribs, and the space between your shoulder blades. Relax your shoulders and draw them away from one another so your neck is an open gateway for sending and receiving breath. Enjoy the lightness of the posture for at least 5 breaths.
In my tradition of practice (Ashtanga), there is a ready-made safety net called tristhana, or the three supports of the practice. They go from gross to subtle. The first support is what you do with your physical body: Keep your body still (resist fidgeting) but stay muscularly active where the pose requires it. Your body should be alert and fully engaged, but not rigid or gripped. This type of physical activation will allow your body to remain receptive to the dynamic movement of your breath within your body.
This conscious, purposeful breath is the second support and focuses on the energetic body: Breathe through your nose, making a gentle sound in your throat and chest. Breathe freely into the entirety of your rib cage, while gently lifting from the center of your pelvic floor and the lowest part of your belly.
The third support is how you choose to direct your attention: Keep your eyes open and your gaze soft and steady. By tempering the physical effort with the energetic practice of breath and the mental and emotional practice of gaze (attention), you’ll minimize the overdoing or overreaching that is created through striving. Receive your practice as it is, and focus on the sending and receiving of energy and the gift of your attention—the aspects of practice that have a more lasting effect on the quality of your life. Take your time and be patient.
See also Challenge Pose: Mayurasana