Yoga has so many awesome benefits, from getting a strong and lean body, to finding inner peace, to connecting on a physical, mental and spiritual level. But, along this path to freedom is the practice or discipline of the asanas. The postures are a journey to the soul. And this journey to the soul is a place where we ignite the inner light found within.
Arm balances can be intimidating when you first begin to progress forward in your asana practice. They are not for everyone but for those who have a more physical approach to their practice. Arm balances help to build confidence, self esteem, strength and power. It teaches one to stay calm within when things get challenging on their mat, and it allows one to approach things in a more calmer, focused manner.
The pose I chose to share with you is the Side Crane Pose also known as Parsva Bakasana. There is so much happening in this pose. It’s an arm balance which creates strength in your upper body and core. It’s a twisting pose that helps ring and twist out all the stuff we hang onto in our physical body. It creates flexibility so you get that long and lean yoga body physique. And it involves opening your mind to the possibilities on your mat with a playful approach.
Remember those fearless days as a child leaping effortlessly into a cartwheel without any thought or apprehension? Try to bring yourself back to those moments of freedom, of letting loose and just doing. We need to bring that childplay sensation back into our adulthood and just go with the flow and see what the outcome may bring. You may be surprised with the outcome as you kick your asana practice up a notch. So be playful and take that ride forward on the Side Crane train and be open to the possibilities along this journey.
Let’s kick-start your asana practice with a few rounds of your favorite sun salutations to warm your body up. Allow the salutations to create a rhythm with your breath, a focused state of mind and to tune into the present moment.
Once you feel all warm and fuzzy and you are ready to take a ride filled with playfulness, follow these steps to progressively move into the full expression of the pose.
1. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
From Downward Facing Dog, look forward and walk or jump your feet to the front of your mat. Bring your big toes and your knees to touch. Bend your knees and hips and begin to find Chair Pose or Utkatasana. Place your hands at heart centre (namaste hands) and relax your shoulders down and away from your ears. Keep the pelvis and spine in a neutral and natural position. Stay here for a few breaths as you create a strong yet supple pose preparing your mindset for the transition into the next pose.
2. Parsva Utkatasana (Twisting Chair Pose)
Before we twist we need to create length. So begin to take a deep breath inwards and on the exhalation breath twist torso to the right. Place your left elbow against the outer right thigh area. Press your elbow into the leg and press your leg into your elbow and create more space and freedom in your spinal twist. Continually draw the belly inwards to keep the back safe and stabilized. Try to keep the hips square to the front edge of your mat. Find your focal point and breathe steady and smooth preparing for the next pose.