There’s been a lot of negative emotion and energy circulating around world events during the last week. In order to create some balance, we’ll need to create a crescendo of love. How can you create loving energy this week? It can be something small like a smile or a hug. It can be something like making a donation to help victims or refugees. Or, it can be something really, really big. Your actions, your choices, can make a positive impact.
In order to make space in your heart for this crescendo of love, I’ll invite you to work towards Baddha Pārśvakoṇāsana. This bound heart opener, creates a feeling of the heart trying to burst out of its cage. As you practice, imagine that the love and positive energy you create through your practice, meditation, and good deeds would exceed the space available in your physical body.
Bound Side Angle requires a stable base, open hips, pliable shoulders, and of course, and open heart. Be mindful if you have any rotator cuff or shoulder issues, modifying this bind may be the right approach.
Try these variations as you work.
Option 1 – Leverage the Twist. Come into Pārśvakoṇāsana with the front knee stacked over the ankle, foot and knee driving forward, hips opening to the long side of the mat, back leg long, and back toes pointing to the long side of the mat or slightly forward. Place the forearm on the thigh, the hand on a block, or on the floor. Reach the shoulder heads broad and the shoulder blades down the back, without puffing through the ribs. Reach the top hand towards your “back pocket”. Pull the elbow behind you as you press into the hip, twisting the torso. At the same time use the pressure of the forearm or arm against the front leg to create leverage for the twist. Ensure that the front knee remains pointing directly forward.
Option 2 – Reach for the Hip Crease. As you progress, you may want to lengthen the stance of the legs, deepening the hip opening. Always keep a strong stance of the legs. with all four corners of the feet rooting to the ground. Reach the top hand toward the opposite hip crease. (If the hip crease is not in range, hold on to your pant band.) Tuck the fingers into the hip crease and deepen the twist, turning the heart towards the ceiling. As you work on the mobility of the top shoulder observe the bottom shoulder. There is a tendency for the shoulder to creep up toward the ear or roll forward collapsing the heart. As you work, keep the front and back of the heart as open as possible.
Option 3 – Clasp and Hover. From Warrior II, reach the hands behind the back and clasp. Work to keep the back as open as possible as you bring the heels of the hands together. With a long spine, take a side bend over the front leg, hovering in the Side Angle Pose. Feel the long line created from the heel to the crown of the head. Maintain the shape as you breathe in this pose. As the challenge of the pose increases, be mindful that the secure structure of the legs has not deteriorated. Maintain a stable and strong base. This variation encourages strength of the sidebody, and opening of the shoulders.
Option 4 – Baddha Pārśvakoṇāsana. From Side Angle, reach the bottom hand under the front thigh, snuggling the shoulder next to the thigh. Reach the top hand around the back. If the hands don’t reach, use a strap to bridge the gap. Start first by bringing the fingers together. As more space is available the bottom hand will find the wrist of the top hand. You may event be able to clasp the hands. More importantly keep the side body stacked over the from thigh. If you are hitching forward or leaning forward, then it’s probably best to back up a step or two. When adding the bind to this posture, you don’t want to lose or compromise the integrity of the base posture of Side Angle. Once the hands do connect, reaffirm the shoulders on the back and turn the heart toward the sky, just as you did in Option 1.
As you work on Baddha Pārśvakoṇāsana, invite a loving attitude to your practice. The crescendo of love needs to start somewhere, so let it be with self love and care, being especially kind to your hips and shoulders. 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.