Spring is a time of fresh starts and decluttering. When it (finally) becomes warm enough to throw open the windows and let a fresh breeze blowthrough my house, I love to spend a day at home getting rid of things and dusting in the places that only get dusted a few times (ok, once) a year. As un-thrilling as that might sound, the act of clearing out and letting go of clutter is incredibly mentally satisfying and soothing. It feels like a real mental rejuvenation to have my home in order, and to lighten the burden of material possessions a little.
This idea of spring cleaning can be mirrored on our mats with our physical yoga practice. As the days get longer, and the layers come off, there is a feeling of wanting to be light footed and energised. My diet starts to change, as I naturally feel the urge move away from heavy, hearty, soul foods towards lighter broths and warm salads that are fresh and invigorating. To complement this lightening of the mood and diet, I like to incorporate a lot of twists into my practice. Twisting the body (and therefore compressing the abdomen somewhat) stimulates and massages the internal body, helping to kick-start the metabolism and keep things moving along as they should in a very gentle way. Twists have a whole range of other benefits such as neutralising the spine and stretching the front body.
The pose of the month then is Parivrtta Anjaneyasana, revolved lunge pose. Please do not do this pose if you are pregnant or have any other contraindications.
To begin, warm up with several rounds of sun salutations.
1. Step the left foot back along your mat and set the ball of the left foot on the floor. Drop the knee if you need to. Square the hips forwards by magnetising the inner thighs towards each other. If you are having trouble balancing here, step the feet a little wider towards the outer edges of the mat to help stabilise.
2. Inhale: Reach the arms up by the ears lengthen the torso.
3. Exhale: draw the belly button gently back towards the spine and bring your left elbow to the outside edge of the right knee.
4. Inhale: Lengthen the spine, exhale: draw the collar bones away from each other, press the palms together, and move the shoulder blades towards each other to open the chest. Keep lengthening the spine on an inhalation and rotating the rib cage on the exhale.
5. Keep the hips and lower back stable and steady by rooting down into the feet and hugging the inner thighs towards each other. Keep lifting the back thigh and kicking the back heel down.
6. To take it further bind the arms behind the front leg, being very mindful of the shoulders.
7. Hold for 5 deep breaths and then release slowly and do the other side.