"Body is the bow, asana is the arrow, and the soul is the target.” - B.K.S. Iyengar
RELEASE YOUR GROINS: To keep the lower back long and enable an extension of your upper body start by releasing the inner groins of the legs. Start as you did for Bhujangasana (cobra), laying face down on your abdomen. Press up onto your left forearm to lift your chest. Keep your left leg straight and bend your right leg grabbing your ankle on the outside with your right hand. Keep you thigh on the floor and your knee in line with your hip. Extend your inner groin to the knee along the floor as you move the sit bones down towards the floor. Keep the left leg in Bhujangasana press your thigh to ankle into the floor grounding your pelvis down. Repeat on the other side.
ENGAGE YOUR SHOULDER BLADES: Now bend your legs and grab your ankles with both hands. Keep your groins extended along the floor to the knee and your knees in line with your hips. Move your pubic bone to the navel to tilt your pelvis down into the floor. Pull with your arms as you press your ankles straight back to raise your front ribs off the floor. Bend your elbows slightly and turn your biceps from inside out (externally rotate) to squeeze your bottom, outer shoulder blades in towards your spine. Keep the groins of your shoulders (upper trapezius) releasing away from your ears.
ASCEND UP: To lift your thighs up higher, spread your upper back thighs from inside out by moving the sit bones away from your tailbone. Ground your sitbones down as you raise your thighs up higher, extending from your inner heels and balls of the big toes. You should feel a strong stretch across the fronts of your thighs but don't lift so high that you lower back “takes it for the team”. Backbends like Dhanurasana should be back strengtheners, not injuring.
VISUALIZE: Your body as a bow, as in bow and arrow. Can you create an even amount of tension and space along your spine. What's your target?
TOMORROW, PART 3: Bringing these actions into Ustrasana (Camel)