One of my favorite sequences to teach is a whole-body detoxification class where I love to say “you’re ringing yourselves out like sponges," just so my students really get a visual of how a simple yoga pose can affect the body. This pose is always part of that sequence.
*opens the chest and stimulates the digestive organs,
*strengthens and stretches the muscles in the legs
*opens the heart
Begin in mountain pose, (tadasana) and take a few breaths. Place your feet about 3-4 feet apart with your right foot pointing forward (90 degrees) as your left foot points straight ahead and then turn the toes slightly (about 45 degrees) with the heels aligned. Reach arms out to the sides (palms down) as the shoulder blades widen. Be sure the knee and the ankle are in line as you turn your torso to the right and begin to square the hips towards your mat. Pull the left thigh back as you take your left hand down toward your right ankle (inside or outside the foot) and extend the right hand up in the air. If it feels ok, turn your gaze up toward your right hand. On your next exhalation, ground your left heel, and keep opening up the chest toward the sky as the left side of your body leans long and proudly over the right leg, releasing that hip away from the shoulder. Take several long deep breaths. Slowly unwind and come to the other side.
This feels quite uncomfortable and I’m straining: Lengthening the spine while rotating the pelvis, and all the while trying to stay balanced is what makes this pose very challenging. Blocks under your hands are a great way to shorten the distance from your body to the ground and create leverage, but be very gentle and respect the range of motion in your spine.
I feel like I might fall, is this normal? It’s okay to bring your feet a bit closer together to help your balance. You are also welcome to slightly bend the knees in this pose since it will take some pressure off the back, and allow you to deepen the twist.
My neck hurts when I gaze up- Simply turn your head down, or look straight ahead, but have an intention with your focal point.
Remember breath deeply and fully in these poses and enjoy the amazing benefits!