This week I came up with a sequence I enjoy doing and teaching. The theme is all about stretching the sides of your body, particularly hips, waist, rib cage, shoulder blades and arms.
Somewhere along my yoga travels, I heard an expression that I like: ” the sides of our bodies are the lonely parts”. I get that. If you think of all the ways a body can move – bending forward, backward, rotating – then, sideways bends are most unfamiliar movements. I think that one of the reasons that trikonasana and parsvakonasana are such a popular poses is because we get to exercise our lateral bending.
Here’s the ‘goal’ pose of my sequence, parivrtta janu sirsasana (revolved head-to-knee pose):
Near to the end of your yoga practice, when you’re properly warmed up, it’s a great thing to first do this pose on each side, and then do it again and hold longer on the second round. That’s when you surrender more, and feel the increased space of the inner organs: liver, gall bladder, stomach, spleen and, of course, lungs.
At the finish of your session just before savasana, try this. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out and together. Bend forward into paschimottanasana (double-leg forward stretch) and hold wherever you can…hands on shins or holding your feet. After stretching up and out, bring your extension into the sides of your waist and ribs. Then, take the stretch into the outside of your shoulder blades, upper arms and elbows, even bending them. See how much your side body helps increase your forward momentum. It feels good, like an itch that has been scratched….And maybe even not so lonely anymore.