Perhaps you’ve already noticed this: the yoga mat is a great place to unfold the metaphors for the greater processes of life.
Showing up on your mat and doing your practice often leads to “ahas” in unexpected areas of your life.
It is so exciting when this happens because when we are able to make this connection between our physical practice on the mat and the larger tapestry of life, our Yoga practice becomes something more than just stretching and breathing; it becomes a spiritual discipline.
One of the great metaphors reflected in asana practice is that of spiritual evolution. Webster’s dictionary defines evolution as “a process of continuous change from a lower or simpler to a higher, more complex, or better state”. Simply put, evolution means growth.
And growth is rarely a linear process. It is more cyclical than linear, but it is more than a simple cycle. It is a spiral, a circular movement that moves higher and higher.
This movement is best seen in the class of asanas which have the Sanskrit word “parivritta” in their names. You may have heard them mentioned in class – parivritta trikonasana (revolved triangle pose) and parivritta parsvokonasana (revolved side angle pose) are some of the most popular asanas in this category.
Parivrtta literally means “to turn around” or “to revolve”. In order to create this movement in the body, we need to do three things:
1) Stabilize the foundation.
2) Extend or elongate the axis.
3) Actively revolve around the axis.
In most standing twisting poses, the foundation consists of the pelvis and the legs.
These poses require that we root powerfully through the legs and feet, and harness the core’s support. Then we channel this energy into the spine and allow the spiral energy to be expressed through the torso.
Standing twists are some of the more complex, challenging set of asanas. They are also some of the most heat producing and detoxifying poses of the repertoire.
They demand flexibility, strength, and the ability to balance while engaging complementary opposing forces.
Just like the process of growth, it may not be easy or comfortable, but it takes you deeper and higher into yourself.
Next time you step on the mat, remember: the energies you learn to harness here will eventually permeate your life beyond the mat.