How can what we practise on our mat, prepare us for what may happen in our life?

Here’s one of my favourite poses, Parvrtta Janu Sirsasana (Twisting Head to Knee Pose), an easier version of which we are doing in our sequence this term. It’s a beautiful side stretch which, among other things, tones and nourishes the kidneys. The way we come into it in class means there is the option of just falling into it with gravity (the “Yin” version if you like). But is this interesting? Will it hold our attention? Is it safe for our body? Possibly, but possibly not. Resistance and focus is always better.

What makes it more interesting is lengthening the lifted arm and extending into the finger tips. This pulls blood all the way up the side ribs and works the big lower back muscles (quadratus lumborum). Aha – that feels different! We are now more attentive of our body. But can we still soften the belly and relax the mind? Can we gently push the hip/bum of the bent leg back towards the mat as we extend our arm without just falling to the side? This makes us warm which is even more interesting! Can we still stay calm though? How about if we push the lower arm gently into the front leg like a lever as if to turn the navel towards the sky. Ooops, did we just forget to breathe into the belly?

When you practise this pose do you suddenly feel an urge to get out of it? Or do you hit the perfect “sweet spot” – the place between effort and surrender? And if we can calmly breathe here, take in the sensation, accept that it’s not life threatening and resist our natural inclination to tense up and/or run when the intensity becomes too much, then perhaps we can use that approach in our daily life when things suddenly become hectic and we have no choice but to deal with it ❤️🕉🙏👌