Now Begins the Study of Yoga
Yoga is life long study. There are two main aspects of the pose: a forward bend and a spinal twist. The most important thing to remember in doing this pose is to keep the integrity of those two actions so that you don’t hurt yourself. The forward bend needs to be generated by the tilting forward of your pelvis, and the twist needs to come from the rotation of the spine. Potential injury can happen if the reverse is allowed – the forward bend happening from the spine and the twist coming from the pelvis. For many people, the final pose, where the hand goes all the way to the floor can only be accomplished by bending in the spine, so I will show you two of the other ways you can do this pose to help make it safe and accessible for most people.
Begin with a chair, seat facing towards you at one end of your mat. Step your right foot under the chair seat, with your feet and legs in a Warrior I position. Balance you weight evenly into both feet. As you inhale, lift your arms overhead, and on exhale, lengthen your spine as you fold forward and put your hands on the chair seat. Notice you can see the line of the spine when I place a broom handle along the model’s backs. This line you see in the first photo is what you want before you add the twist to the pose. If this height feels good, and you can bend forward from the pelvis easily (your hamstrings are not screaming at you!), you can try going onto the elbow on the chair seat (second photo).
The third photo shows the set up from the back, with the L hip beginning to drop, so not safe for the twist yet! The fourth photo shows him getting his hips and the line of the spine back into place. It is really important that you take time to work with where your body is at, so over time you are working to maintain or improve things in your body, rather than hurting yourself through repetitive actions that are harmful. With his hand on the chair, Peter is able to work to make this a safe pose for him to do, and to work with awareness of how to keep his spine in a healthy position. In the fifth photo, you see how putting his elbows on the chair makes it impossible for Abad to keep the line of his spine – he is forward bending partly from the spine rather than completely from his hips, and you can also see the front leg bending, indicating this is too low for his body at this time.
In the sixth photo, you will see Debbie with hand on block in the twist of this posture along with the forward bend. She is keeping the spine elongated in the forward bend at this height and her spinal rotation is fairly good as well. When you work with this pose, take photos or a video of yourself so that you can see if you are doing this safely. Parivrtta Trikonasana has wonderful benefits:
improves circulation and digestion; strengthens and stretches calf, thigh, hamstring, and abdominal muscles; lengthens and strengthens muscles of the spine; broadens the chest, collarbones, and shoulders; tones kidneys, liver, spleen; and improves balance. As in all of the asanas of yoga, a little knowledge of how to do it well for your body will make it a healthy practice.