In most of the yoga classes that I attend, Parivritta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side-Angle Stretch Pose) is always ever present to taunt the flexibility and strength of my legs and hips joints and to stretch the limits of my ankle mobility.
In trying to keep my hips square to the front of the mat and in trying to maintain a perfect 90-degree angle in my front leg, I often find my both legs trembling, tilting my body and making me fall to the ground. The next tricky part is in staying focused with the trunk twisted and the chest open. I would chant to myself “Just breathe… breathe…” hoping and praying that the pose will be over soon.
Something happened the other day in one of our YTT class, Master Paalu changed my perspective on the pose and made me aware of what I should be doing. The master teacher tried to knock off each student from this standing pose. That is when I realized that I relaxed my hip and thigh muscles as I try to lengthen my spine and do the twist. This caused more of my body weight to shift forward to my front leg, loosing grip of the back foot, triggering the wobbling of the legs.
I must create first a stable base with my hips even before I start to lengthen my spine and do the twist. For EACH breathe and twisting of the spine, I must go back and re-check if my front leg’s hip and thigh muscles are still contracted; if my back hip are connected with back leg/foot; if the back foot is still pressing firmly on the floor; if my back leg are still straightened and engaged — that not even a strong nudge will topple the body from this twisted pose.
These are some of the variations that one can do to execute the pose:
a) Variation for the back leg:
– If it is pretty challenging to keep the back leg lifted while keeping the toes on the mat, one can gently lower down the back knee to the floor. Un-tuck the toes and rest the back of the foot on the floor.
b) Variation for the back foot:
– The full pose is to position the back foot in a 45-degree angle to the back of the mat. If this is not anatomically possible, lift-up the back foot’s heel and keep the toes touching the mat. As you inhale and exhale into the pose, slowly try to ground the back foot to the mat but consciously maintain the engaged hips in its square position (to front of the mat).
c) Variation for the arms:
– Hands are in Prayer pose or Namaste position, or,
– Front hand is on the floor (or on a block) while the other arm extends over the head, or,
– For those with more open shoulders and chest, they may do the bound variation: wrap the top arm around and under the backside of the torso and grasp the bottom hand at the wrist if possible.
Parivritta Parsvakonasa has lots of benefits for the body. As much as I dread to do it, I have much respect for the pose. It has to be there in my yoga practice. It opens the chests and shoulders, strengthens the core, tones the thighs, stretches the abdominal muscles, detox the abdominal organs, increases blood circulation, improves balance and increases the mental focus. I simply love ♡ the pose as it keeps my ego grounded – it makes me accept the current state of my hips, shoulders and ankle joints. Most importantly, the pose reminds me to be always present at the current moment…
Melissa J (200hr YTT – July 2017 batch)