Twists and turns are a part of life. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out or you’ve found a wave to ride, circumstances change, directions change, and you must pick a new path or strategy. Part of moving on when things change is the need to slough off, shed, to let go of the past or detach from what was. The twisty pose of Parivṛitta Anjanayāsana or Twisted Lunge is a good metaphor for this.
In this week’s PowerPose, the spine is long and the legs are strong, allowing for maximum rotation of the spine. As the torso twists, the organs are compressed which can have a cleansing or detoxifying effect. For this to work, we need to emotionally and energetically cleanse as well. This, many times, is a much more challenging practice than the āsanas or poses.
This twist around a long spine is a great way to prepare for backbending (hint, hint on what’s coming in a couple of weeks) or other poses that benefit from the length and health of the spine.
Try these variations to explore Parivṛitta Anjanayāsana.
Option 1: Knee down and hand down. Step the left foot forward to a kneeling lunge with the foot and back knee about hip distance apart. Place the right hand down in line with the back knee, with the fingertips just forward of the front toes. Shrug the right shoulder on the back and press the hand into the floor. Take the left hand to the hip or reach it skyward creating a long line between the hands. The gaze can be at heart space on the horizon, toward the top hand, or anywhere along that path. Gently tug the left hip back to keep the hips square. Take a few breaths, then find the pose on the opposite side.
Option 2: Knee up hand hand down. From option 1, tuck the back toes and lift the back knee. Press evenly into the big toe ball mound and pinky toe or ball mound, so the heel lifts directly behind you. Lift the back knee as much as you can, in time finding a completely straight leg. With the hand planted on the ground, gently pull the hand against the mat toward the back foot until you feel the side body engage. Try to close your armpit without collapsing the space there to accentuate this action.
Option 3: Anchor the elbow. From a high lunge, bring the hands to the heart. Gently hug the inner thighs toward the midline and keep the back leg long. Lift the spine long and reach tall through the crown of the head. Twist and hook the opposite elbow to the thigh. Try to anchor the meaty part of the tricep just behind the knee. Keep the knee stationary as you press into the elbow, moving deeper into the twist. You can also press down from the top hand to leverage a deeper twist. Keep the heart open and collarbones broad. The gaze can be at the heart space on the horizon or toward the sky.
Option 4: Fly arms open. When you can twist enough that your shoulders are stacked in a line over the front thigh, fly the arms open. Imagine that you can pry your heart open with the wide reach of the arms. Work to get the line of the arms perpendicular to the floor with the fingertips gently touching the ground. If you need additional challenge from here, work to bind the twist.
A meditation of releasing or letting go would be a lovely compliment to this practice. Also, be sure to follow up with water to help the organs release what they no longer need.
Always work where you feel comfortable and find the right amount of challenge for you. Follow this #PowerPose challenge @suzannewrightyoga on Instagram or at Suzanne Wright Yoga on Facebook. If you post your pictures or about your experience be sure to tag #PowerPose and @suzannewrightyoga.