This sequence of poses is used in this weeks advanced class to prepare for backbends. A simple cross leg position is developed in a matsyasana direction using two blocks. All of the preparatory poses leading into backbends in this weeks class are chosen for their ability to open the thoracic spine. Stage 1. Although appearing passive from the outside, this pose entails actively pressing your shoulders down and actively lifting the spine between your shoulder blades up. Stage 2. Two blocks are now positioned on their side edge. One sits in the thoracic and the other behind the skull. The blocks help to develop the opening from the previous pose. Stage 3. The blocks are now made taller by standing them on their ends. The lift in your thoracic spine is increased without the need for muscular effort. Your arms can now be folded and brought over your head. Stage 4. The final stage involves lowering the head block so that the crown of the head can come back and down. This maximises the lift in the chest region. Your arms can now be actively extended. The palms of your hands and your shoulder blades move in opposite directions. It is important to work to your capacity here. The four stages are intended for experienced students. If you are newer to backbends then the first two stages will work best. See more at yogaselection.com.