Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words "Eat me" was beautifully marked in currants. "Well, I'll eat it," said Alice, "and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key....." She ate a little bit,..."now I'm opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye feet!".....
Just then her head struck against the roof of the hall: in fact she was now more than nine feet high, and she at once took up the little golden key and hurried off to the garden door.
Poor Alice! It was as much as she could do, lying down on one side to look through into the garden with one eye; but to get through was more hopeless than ever..."
This, of course, comes from the classic tale "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. It's an intriguing story of a little girl's travel through an obscure land of characters and escapades that could certainly leave your head spinning! I chose this passage because there is a pose I sometimes teach in my yoga classes that reminds me of this moment when Alice eats the small cake and grows too large for the room in which she's trapped and cannot get out. The pose itself is a twisting posture and it also helps to open the back of your shoulders.
As an intention, we can borrow from Alice's dilemma: she is stuck in a small space and must figure out a way to escape. Have you ever felt bound, stuck, or trapped in a situation where it is a challenge to move forward? Perhaps this pose can symbolize that experience with the further intention that this situation does not have to be permanent. You WILL discover the proper solution to the problem so you, too, can escape from the tight enclosure.
First, come to your hands and knees. Your hands will be directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Slide your right hand forward about 1 foot, move it a few inches to the right (it may even move off of your mat), then turn your hand counter clockwise so your middle finger is pointing inward (about 10 o'clock on an imaginary clock.)
Second, begin to slide your left hand behind the right. (We sometimes call this "thread the needle.") Your left shoulder will come to the floor. Meanwhile, the right arm will form a right angle as you lower yourself closer to your yoga mat. Continue to slide the left hand and arm through this little "doorway" you have created. Move as deeply as you'd like into this posture. You may feel a stretching sensation in the rear portion of your left shoulder. You are also a creating a twist in the spine. (Be sure to continue lengthening your spine in this twist to experience the greatest benefit. Lengthen by feeling your hips move toward the back of the room as the crown of your head continues to move forward.)
Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths. In this posture, you have created a simulation of Alice in her 9-foot state trying to pass through the tiny door to enter the garden. Return to your intention. You know that there are good things (like Alice's garden) on the other side of this door, but at the moment you feel trapped. However, you have the resources (the key) to eventually pass through this door. Remain positive and patient. As you clear the mind (perhaps using deep cleansing breaths) you will create an opening from within. You'll soon notice that your situation is not that dire. You will eventually see clearly that you CAN move forward.
After the desired breaths on this side, carefully release the pose and repeat it on the other side. Use the breath as your tool, your key, to unlock the trapped feeling you may have inside. Explore the potential and possibility of the garden that awaits you.