Saturday, July 21, 2012

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

Revolved Side Angle Pose or 
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

By John Schumacher

The universe moves in many ways: straight lines, curves, circles, ellipses, and apparently chaotic patterns. But when I contemplate the movement of things within and without myself - something I do fairly often as a yoga teacher - the pattern I encounter most frequently and ubiquitously is the spiral. The word spiral comes from the Latin spira, meaning to coil, and these coils are everywhere. From the immense Spiral Nebula to the minute spiraling strands of DNA, all of creation simultaneously spins and soars, twirling and swirling in a grand cosmic dance. 

In yoga, no poses so clearly embody the essence of the spiral as twists do.You can find twists within every category of pose: standing, seated, inverted, and reclining. They are powerful cleansing poses, working deeply on the internal organs in a "squeeze-and-soak" action. As you squeeze a sponge to rid it of dirty water, the twists squeeze the abdominal organs, forcing out toxins and waste. Then when you release the twist, fresh blood rushes into those organs, bathing the cells with oxygen and nutrients.

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) is an intense twist and, in my opinion, the most difficult of the basic standing poses. It challenges the practitioner's flexibility, strength, sense of balance, and presence of mind. Since this is a difficult asana for even the most experienced practitioner, some intermediate steps can help you learn to better perform the actions of the pose. 

Since most students can’t easily keep their back heel down in this pose, a modified version will be described here with the back heel raised off the floor. See Deepen the Pose below for a brief description of the full pose.  

Step by step instruction

1. Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Rest your hands on your hips. Turn your right foot out to the right 90 degrees and turn your left foot in slightly to the right. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle. 

2. Exhale and turn your torso to the right until you’re facing directly out over the right leg; as you do this, lift your left heel off the floor and spin on the ball of the foot until the inner left foot is parallel to the inner right foot. Then exhale again and bend your right knee. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. Keep your left leg active by pressing the thigh up toward the ceiling and extending strongly through the left heel. At the same time, resist the lift of the left thigh by pressing the tailbone toward the pubis. 

3. With another exhale turn further to the right and lean the torso down, placing the left hand on the floor inside the right foot. Dig your right thumb into the right hip crease and push the thighbone down toward the floor. Firm the shoulder blades into the back ribs and lean the torso back slightly, away from the inner thigh. Stay in this position for a few breaths.

4. If this position seems challenging enough, stay for the recommended time. If you want to go further, bend your left elbow and bring it to the outside of the right knee. Resist the knee and elbow against each other. If possible, straighten your left elbow and reach the hand toward the floor (if you can’t reach the floor, support your hand on a block). You can keep your right hand on your hip, or stretch it over the back of the right ear with the palm facing down. Then turn your head to look at the right arm. As in all twists lengthen and soften the belly, extend the spine with each inhalation, and increase the twist as you exhale. 

5. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up, exhale to release the twist. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then return to Tadasana.


Article source Yoga Journal
Image source here