Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Today's Twist: Revolved Triangle (Parivtta Trikonasana)

Revolved Triangle (Parivtta Trikonasana) keeps your bodily mechanics oiled in many ways, such as detoxifying your internal organs, challenging your sense of balance, toning your arms and legs, and releasing tension in your chest and between your shoulder blades.  Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to Parivtta Trikonasana.

Begin in Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana.)  First inhale in Mountain Pose, then exhale and take a big step forward.  Turn your back foot so you’re facing to one side.  Reach your arms out like a capital “T”.  Breathe in and slide forward over your straight front leg, then breathe out while you slowly teeter totter your arms until your front hand touches your leg or the floor.  Reach your other fingertips toward the sky.  Feel as though you are leaning back slightly.  Take three deep breaths in Triangle Pose, allowing your hips to relax and your heart area to open wide.

To revolve your triangle, simply switch your hands.  Your hips will shift to face forward slightly.  Take your upper hand and place it on the ground or on your front ankle.  Once you feel balanced, raise your other hand toward the sky.  Breathe deeply and twist for at least three long breaths. 

Finish by moving back into Triangle Pose, then slide back up so your arms are parallel to the ground.  Switch the direction of your feet so that you are facing the opposite direction, then repeat the process for the same amount of time with your other leg in front. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Today's Twist: Revolved Low Lunge (Parivtta Anjaneyasana)

The Happy Benefits of Revolved Low Lunge (“Twisted Lizard” or “Simple Twist.”) 
Sanskrit: Parivtta Anjaneyasana

There are a lot of names for this wonderful pose.  Why do I like it so much?  First, it’s a twist that helps detoxify your internal organs.  Secondly, it challenges your sense of balance.  Third, it gently elongates your hip flexor.  Fourth, it strengthens your calves, ankles and even your wrists.  Lastly, and maybe most importantly, it’s a heart-opener. 

A nice way to get into Parivtta Anganeyasana is from Downward Facing Dog.  Begin on all fours in a table pose with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.  Press your tail up and back to make yourself look like an upside down letter “V”.  Inhale, lift one leg in the air, then exhale as you bring nose to your knee and step your foot between your hands. 

Keep your back leg flexed.  Place your inside hand flat on the ground.  Breathe in and lift your outside hand to the sky.  Look up or if that seems to stress your neck, simply look straight ahead.  Lean back reaching your raised arm slightly behind you to stretch open your pectorals / chest muscles.  Breathe deeply in and out for three to five breaths.* Then replace your raised hand to frame your front foot, step back into Downward Dog.  Take three deep breaths, then repeat the pose on the other side. 

* If you’re already warmed up and you’d like to increase the intensity of the stretch, do what the monkey is doing in the picture. Bend the elbow of your top hand and place the back of your hand behind you.  Reach your other hand between your legs and if possible, clasp your hands behind your back.  Use the leverage of your arms to twist your chest skyward even more intensely. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King’s dream was for “little black boys and little black girls” to be able to freely join hands with “little white boys and little white girls.”  In New York City, children of all races play together after school in the streets, sidewalks and subways of our great city.  Yes, race relations in America often feel like the kind of progress that takes one step forward then two steps back.  Yet despite the difficulties and frustrations we experience, Dr. King’s dream has come true and continues to strengthen and grow.

When infants or little ones meet, how do they act?  They interact with each other at a visceral level.  They are naturally unaware of exterior differences between people.  They see another being -two reflecting eyes- with which to connect.  Skin color is superficial. Ultimately each of us is made of skin, bones, water and blood.  We all hunger, thirst, breathe and love.  At a basic level we all seek connection and belonging.

Everything on earth originated from the stars.  Regardless of our race, background, gender or beliefs, we are all stardust.  Star Pose, or Extended Mountain (Utthita Tadasana) elegantly expresses this idea.  It’s a natural pose, and fittingly, it’s a heart-opening pose.  We stand with our legs wide, rooted in the Earth, and spread our arms open as if requesting a big hug from the Universe.  Breathe deeply.  Let’s love ourselves and one another as we embrace Dr. King’s powerful message.