Pratyahara is the practice of drawing the senses inward, away from the swirl of external stimulus. Much like a turtle will draw its limbs and head inside of its shell, we often feel the need to draw ourselves inward to process, to heal and to rest.
Curl right middle and ring fingers into palm, turn right hand face down onto left palm and clasp the middle and ring fingers of each hand together. Touch right thumb to left inner wrist, right index finger to left thumb, right little finger to left index finger, wrap left middle, ring and little fingers around back of right hand.
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)
Lie on the back with the legs straight and feet pressing into a wall. Place block on floor behind head and place 1/3 of sandbag on forehead the remaining 2/3 of sandbag on block. (not shown in photo) The weight on the forehead helps remind you to draw your awareness inward. You can also
Variation I: Draw your right knee into your chest and lengthen the left leg onto the floor. Wrap a strap around the ball of your foot and extend the leg into the air. Reach the hands up the strap until the elbows are straight but the shoulders are still grounded.
Variation II: Hold the strap in the right hand and place a block on the outside of the right hip. As you exhale, lower the leg directly out to the side so that the outer thigh rests on the block. Extend the foot into the strap and reach the left arm out to the side. To release, use the inner thigh to draw the leg up to center.
Extend both legs and press feet into the wall and thighs into the floor.
Supported Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Stand in Tadasana. Inhale arms overhead. Exhale and bend forward from hips. Engage quadriceps and draw belly in as you press heels into floor, and sit bones upwards. Support the head on a stack of blocks or on the seat of a chair (not shown). Hold up to 1 minute. Release back into Tadasana by drawing hands onto hips and lifting entire torso up as a single unit.
Supported Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend)
Stand with feet wide apart. Bend forward from hips placing hands between feet. Release spine forward with crown of head facing floor. Support the head on the floor, on a stack of blocks or on the seat of a chair. Hold up to 1 minute, then return to standing by drawing hands onto hips and lifting entire torso up as a single unit.
Supported Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Stand with feet hips-width apart with buttocks on the wall and heels a few inches away from the wall. Engage legs and bear weight on left leg only. Draw right foot onto calf or inner thigh (do not press on side of knee). Press foot against leg and leg against foot. Draw belly in and release tail bone towards floor. Inhale and draw arms overhead without gripping shoulders. Feel free to close the eyes and bring the awareness completely within. Hold as long as you can balance with comfort, release and change sides.
Supported Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Begin on all fours with hands slightly forward of shoulders and a block under the navel (block now shown). Turn toes under and lift knees off floor. Keep shoulders wide and palms flat, press thighs and sit bones back, scooping belly in. Rest head on the block and hold 1-3 minutes, release into Child's Pose.
Supported Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)
Lie on back with knees bent and feet hips with apart. Inhale and lift hips away from floor, rolling onto upper back. Press arms back into floor and lengthen tail bone towards backs of knees. Place block under sacrum and rest pelvis on block. You may also Place block on floor behind head and place 1/3 of sandbag on forehead the remaining 2/3 of sandbag on block (not shown in photo). Hold 1-3 minutes and release.
Supta Balasana (Supported Child's Pose)
Kneel straddling a long bolster. Place a second bolster over first with end of bolster in front of your low abdomen. A third bolster can go under the far end of the second bolster or use a folded blanket or block to support under it. Extend front of body over second bolster and rest forehead on backs of hands. Rest up to 5 minutes.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Lie on back with legs straight and feet relaxed to sides. Move arms away from sides slightly and turn palms to face ceiling. You may use support under the knees for low back pain; and a folded blanket under the head if needed. Place block under sacrum and rest pelvis on block. You may also Place block on floor behind head and place 1/3 of sandbag on forehead the remaining 2/3 of sandbag on block (not shown in photo). Rest 5-15 minutes.
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.