Yoga Pose of the Week: Parsva Balasana

Yoga pose

Genevieve Oswald in Parsva Balasana Variation. Zoe Zimmerman for Sundara Studios 2013

Thread the Needle, Parsva Balasana Variation

Not all yoga poses have a name in Sanskrit. Some poses have multiple variations that share a name, and different schools of yoga call different poses different things, Thread the Needle is one of these poses. Though this twist may be hard to classify specifically in Sanskrit because of its multitude of variations, all variations are a form of Parsva Balasana (Side Child’s Pose).

Begin with hands and knees on the floor in a tabletop position.  With an exhale, slide your right hand between the left wrist and knee until you come to rest on your right shoulder and the right side of your head. The most basic variation of the pose is to walk the top hand (left fingertips) toward the front of the mat, and keep the left knee down. With an inhale, lift your chin out of your chest and energetically draw your hips back toward the back of the mat, this will increase the length of your spine and allow your breath flow with more ease.  Keeping your muscles active, fingers spread, and legs strong will bring an added benefit to your body in this asana.

For a more challenging variation, lift the left knee away from the floor while keeping the foot down.  Lengthening the back leg will deepen the twist, and create more room to expand the form of the pose.  To take the pose one step farther, extend the left hand toward the ceiling.

Hold any level of the asana for 5-30 breaths, inhale to unwind, and repeat on the second side.

This twist sweetly opens the shoulders while compressing, wringing out and detoxifying the inner organs.  It is also a slight inversion (head below heart), which naturally cleanses the blood and refreshes the mind.