Question on Level 3

Q Generally in Level 3 there are lots of jumps to Slant, from Upward Salute, Pyramid Lift, Crow, etc. How do you avoid straining/jolting the shoulders?
A Work systematically from Basics to Level 2! If you are feeling strain with Level 3 jumps, then work with Basics-Level 2 modifications as needed until strength is increased.
The way to avoid straining/jolting the shoulders is the same way we avoid strain in any flow: maintain a steady focus on the breath, and progress as the strength and flexibility is achieved to maintain proper alignment and relaxation throughout. Focus on ujjayi as you jump and check if there is a steady, smooth flow– any interruption in the breath is not only disruptive to the meditative flow, but may also indicate tension or strain during the jump.
Q (3.3 Spring) Pranam Salutation: if you are moving to the back of the room repeatedly, what happens when you reach a wall? how do you return forward at that point?
A Walk forward 🙂
Q (3.3 Winter) For V Seat 2, do the arms ever reach forward parallel to ground (so not supporting torso with hands to floor)?
A The arms in V-Seat 2 are not supporting the torso any more than they are in Cobra 1– the elbows are slightly bent and arms relaxed. There is a variation with the arms parallel to the ground. In Level 4 we use the arms in V-Press, bringing the hands to feet and extended the legs, while keeping the torso and thighs together.
Q (3.3 Winter) In Side Plow, what are you looking for in terms of alignment? Is it advised to have the toes tucked or not? Are the knees pressing together or can they be lightly apart? Is the spine lengthening instead of rounded? What about hips–are you supposed to keep both sit bones equally lifted?
A The alignment of the spine is the same as in Plow– we are lengthening the spine and reaching the sit bones equally up. This is a spinal twist– imagine you are sitting in L-Seat and twisting to the right, only turned over onto your back 🙂 Instead of using the earth to keep the pelvis aligned, we are using our own strength. Aim to keep the spine lengthened and hips balanced. Tucking the toes helps many to lengthen the spine.
Q (3.3 Winter) For Side Knee to Ear, I suppose the spine is rounded but still with sit bones equally high and sides of torso equally long?
A Yes, if possible. Often one will shorten on the side nearest the knees. The hand can be placed under the hip to help balance the sit bones, or props can be used under the knee.
Q (3.4 Summer) To go from L Seat (Basic Seat) to Prep: Double Twist and to return to L Seat after the twist, does one leg arrive/move before the other? in Double Twist do the hands bind?
A Yes, the top leg begins to move slightly before the other– lean back slightly and begin to bring the top leg over, then the knees bend to come into the Prep. The hands do not “bind”: If the spinal alignment can be maintained, then the hands can join, either with the top arm over the thigh or over the shin. The release begins from base of spine, the legs unwinding as the spine comes back to center.
Q (3.4 Autumn) How to go back and forth smoothly from Frog 1 to Bow 1: how to move the hands that are holding feet?
A From Bow to Frog hands just turn, bringing fingers forward on top of feet. Then they glide back to the ankles during transition to Bow. Remain relaxed, focus on your breath, and you will feel the flow naturally.
Q (3.4 Autumn) Do you remove props after lowering to Locust for Facedown Rest? and then replace them for the repeat? What are you looking for in Locust, are the legs lifting higher and higher (more here than in Level 2)?
A If it is comfortable to leave the props in place, then do so. Otherwise, remove them for Facedown Rest and replace for the second round of Locust. Clearly this is dependent on the props you are using.
We are not “looking” for anything different in Locust in Level 3 than we do in Level 1 and 2 ~ length in both directions, energy expanding as legs and hips lift up and arms and torso reaches down. As strength and flexibility increase, the legs will go higher. You can experiment with different props as your body opens.
Q (3.4 Autumn) For Bow 2, how to increase the lift and bring thighs to ground?
A Try a small pillow under the abdomen or hips. Experiment to find the best place. An assistant can also help, gently drawing the feet back as you continue to lift until the thighs come to ground. This will help you to feel exactly where the openness comes, and what strength is needed to maintain. With practice, strength and flexibility increase and the prop isn’t needed.
Q (3.4 Autumn) How to go from Tortoise Fish to Facedown and back and forth (repeating)?
A Facedown – Cobra 2 Roll – Tortoise Fish: from Cobra 2 Roll, roll the spine through Prep: Tortoise Fish to Tortoise Fish. When the hips lift from Cobra 2 and move back between the feet, the knees can widen. This happens directly, without passing through Tortoise Bow.
Tortoise Fish to Facedown: lift from Tortoise Fish as in Level 2, but bring the hands to earth and jump off the top of the feet, passing through Slant to Facedown. Modify with Raised Slant to Slant (without the jump), or pass through Cat to Facedown (like in Gentle Wave).
Q (3.4 Autumn) Tortoise to Forward Bend: Is it Tortoise to Squat 1 to L Seat to Forward Bend? Sorry to have so many questions at once! 🙂
A Options:
You can lift hips and knees at the same time and bring feet forward to Hand Balance (or modification), then to L-Seat and Forward Bend. Blocks are helpful.
Tortoise Toe Stretch 2 to Basic Squat, then extend legs to L-Seat and Forward Bend.
Tortoise to Cat, then Reverse Toe Stretch to Squat 1, then Hand Balance (or modification) to L-Seat and Forward Bend.

(3.3 Summer) suggestions for Crow to Slant and Tortoise to Slant
A Strength is built with regular practice. Focus on breath first during difficult transitions, and remain relaxed. Continue to work with modifications as strength is gained.
Q Crow to Slant

ALean forward, trust your arms, and extend legs back.

Q Tortoise to Slant

A Tortoise > Tortoise 2 > jump off the tops of feet. Lengthen in opposite directions as you jump.

Q (3.3 Autumn) #6-7 L Seat (Basic Seat) to Mountain

A Options:L-Seat > Hand Balance (or Basic Hand Balance) > Squat 1 > Toe Stretch Lift > Cat to Mountain (or bring hands to earth close to knees and jump back to mountain). Modify with L-Seat > Basic Squat > Squat 1, or Basic Squat > Cross Squat to Cat.

Q (3.3 Autumn) how to kick up to Handstand without help!

A Practice the jumping transitions from Tortoise to Forearm Stand and Tortoise to L-Mountain. Practice Forearm Mountain to Headstand Lift. Focus on the breath first (even when jumping). 🙂 Over time you will be stronger and more relaxed, and the Handstand transition will develop. Forearm Mountain to Headstand Lift and Mountain to Handstand are similar. Keep the neck in line with the spine during the transition, and try to have smooth continuous movement. Step one foot forward and lift the straight back leg up toward the wall. Press off the foot to earth to assist. Think more about lifting your legs to the wall rather than pushing yourself up with your legs. Focus on the breath and relax.

Q How to assist student to kick up?

A Learn during teacher training from an experienced teacher! I recommend against teaching a L3 flow that you are not comfortable with, and have not been instructed how to teach. In both Forearm Mountain to Headstand Lift and Mountain to Handstand, stand on the side that will lift first. Assist the student to bring the first leg to the wall, and the other will follow.

(3.3 Autumn) Basic Squat to Mountain
A Squat 1 > Toe Stretch Lift > Cat to Mountain (or bring hands to earth close to knees and jump back to mountain).

Rishi & Santoshi