My travels have taken me to the beautiful countryside of Tuscany, Italy. I am traveling with others from the United States to enjoy a relaxing yoga retreat led by some very special friends. We are staying at a 14th century farmhouse called Ebbio. As we journeyed along the speedway, we noticed villas on the hillside, lush vineyards, and even vast fields of sunflowers. At our retreat location, we have an amazing hilltop view of Monteriggioni Castle and the surrounding national forests. We have been treated to fresh vegetarian meals, a lush garden, farm animals, and lovely hosts.
The theme of the yoga retreat is borrowed from the famous poetic story written by Dante Alighieri called The Divine Comedy. It is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Dante is exiled to these distinct territories and is forced to rediscover himself through a series of adventures. He experiences through his journey a transformation of himself.
We, too, can experience transformation; discover new parts of ourselves or even re-invent ourselves. Sometimes yoga can be thought of as a process of birth and rebirth. We move in and out of postures to tap into parts of ourselves that we did not know existed. We can use yoga poses to experience a sense of healing and cleansing. All of these, and more, can be thought of as transformation.
Seated Twisted Pose
Twisting postures in yoga can provide that sense of changing, shifting, transforming. In twisting positions, I imagine a wet sponge being wrung out. When we unwind, a freshness enters our being. It is a release of the new to invite the new. Try this posture to experience that sense of cleansing and becoming anew.
Sit on your yoga mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Bend your right leg, and hub your knee up toward your chest. Then, step your right foot over your extended left leg so that now your right foot is on the outside of your left leg. You're welcome to keep the left leg extended or bend this leg so the foot draws near the right hip bone. (Your left knee will be lying on the floor.)
Inhale and extend your left arm out in front of you. As you exhale, wrap your left arm around the bent right knee twisting your torso toward the right side of the room. As you complete the twist, hug the leg closer to your body. Inhale again to ensure a long spine followed by another exhale to twist more as the body allows. Hold the posture for at least 10 breaths.
As you remain in this seated twisted pose, imagine the internal and external changes your body is currently experiencing. Some changes may be subtle, some will be more apparent. Feel free to move into this pose with the intention of desiring change and shift in your body, mind, spirit, life. As you release the pose slowly, return to Staff Pose (legs extended out in front of you), and experience the body opening up to new sensations. Repeat the pose on the other side.
Even if you don't set a specific intention while practicing this yoga pose, your body, mind, and spirit can be open to change and transformation if you are open to receive it.
Written on July 23, 2013 in Italy.