In the last blog entry, I discussed Fish Pose, it's story, and how the posture is related to self healing. Staying on that same theme, I thought I'd write about another type of pose that can also help with healing: twisting poses.
Whenever I instruct a twisting pose in a yoga class, I have the students imagine that they are a wet sponge ready to be wrung out. When a sponge is wet, it is typically heavy - saturated with a substance that is ready to move out. When one wrings out a sponge, all the water is released, leaving it light and virtually empty - ready to absorb new content. Hold onto this image as you practice this next pose.
Twisted Chair Pose (Parivritta Utkatasana)
As usual, start your practice in Mountain Pose with your hands at your Heart Center to set your intention. Perhaps you have been sitting heavy with thoughts, worries, aches, pains, and concern that you are ready to release. Think of those ideas and sensations as the water in the saturated sponge.
Inhale to extend your arms overhead. Exhale and sit back into Chair Pose. Keep your arms extended alongside your ears. Sit back as if you are sitting in an imaginary chair. Shift your weight back slightly so the weight is in the heels of your feet. (You should be able to lift or tap your toes easily.) Also, your knees will begin to move to be more aligned over your ankles. (This will also take pressure off the knees and shins.) Next, bring your hands to Heart Center.
With the next few breaths, remain in this pose to further elongate the spine. With each exhale, draw your belly button up toward your spine engaging the Abdominal Lock. When you are ready, exhale and begin a slow twist to the right. You want to be sure to make this a full abdominal twist to simulate wringing out the sponge. Here are some things you can be aware of while moving deeply into the pose:
1) Be sure your feet are still firm on the floor with an even weight distribution between them. Notice if you have rolled to the inner or outer parts of your feet when you twist.
2) Look down at your knees. Be certain that your knees are still aligned with one another. If you are twisting to the right and your left knee shifts forward, then you have moved out of alignment and have decreased the fullest twist possible. (Feel free to use a Yoga Block between your thighs to help stabilize your feet and knees.) If your knees remain aligned, this also means your hips will remain aligned ensuring a full twist rather than a simple turning of your body to the right.
3) Move slowly. There is no need to wring out the sponge all at once. Use several breaths to reach your fullest depth of the pose. Inhale to continue lengthening through your spine and twist a little bit more when you exhale. (Remember to draw your navel in toward your spine.) Keep moving like this until you have reached a full twist. Hold the pose for an additional 5 breaths.
Return to Chair Pose then Mountain Pose. As you unwind from this twist, imagine the wet sponge is now free of it's contents feeling light and newly absorbent. Repeat the pose on the other side.
It is easy for us to walk through our days, weeks, even months feeling heavy with pressure and stress. We become saturated with these feelings and can no longer absorb any more leading to feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Practice this twisted pose to relieve yourself of these burdensome circumstances.