Pose of the Week: Parivrtta Paschimottanasana


Kelly Igoe in Parivrtta Paschimottanasana, by Zoe Zimmerman for Sundara Studios 2014

Yoga is more than a means of relaxing, though feeling relaxed after a good practice is a lovely benefit of yoga. The asana practice is a like a supercharged multi purpose tool.  One of the many facets of this tool is the ability to observe patterns that do and do not serve and adjust accordingly.

Paschimottanasana in itself is an incredibly insightful posture.  By its nature it invites one to look in more deeply, to become aware of what resides within in the moment of witnessing while not being confrontational.  Add to this posture a deep twist and the potential for greater understanding and awareness is amplified.

Begin sitting in dandasana (staff pose) with both of your legs outstretched in front of you and your hands alongside your hips, spine rising tall. Inhale to reach your arms up and over your head, exhale and bow forward, hinging at your hips. If you can bring your right hand to your left foot and your left hand to your right foot, on top of your right arm, do so. If not, right hand to left shin, left hand to hip or the back of your head is enough.

Inhale and extend forward, extending long through the front and back of your spine. Exhale and twist at the navel to the left, rotating the vertebrae of the spine all the way up through the neck, turning the gaze skyward.  Press back through your left elbow as you press down through your right elbow and slide your heart through the window of your elbows. Hold for five to fifteen breaths, release with an inhalation and repeat on the second side.

Such a pose investigates unhealthy habits of laziness, apathy, and criticism, and provides the opportunity to counter with more nurturing, and life enhancing action.