Today's Daily Tip
Twist & Soar
Otherwise, move into the second stage by reaching across your body and taking hold of the outside of your right foot with your left hand. Now, draw your right arm to the left through the hole formed by your left arm and right leg (don't say I didn't warn you about this pretzel moment). Roll onto your left side and place your right fingertips on the floor for support. To complete the shape, slip your head onto your left upper arm, which will require you to extend your right leg out to the side and up toward your ear. If you feel off balance, bend your left leg.
To simulate the feeling of the full Visvamitrasana, fully extend your right leg by pressing your right foot into your left hand, but listen to your hamstrings and don't overstretch. Roll your right hip under so that your tailbone points toward your back heel. Your whole body should be on the same plane. Keep your sacrum broad: You shouldn't feel any compression in your lower back. Relax the weight of your head into your left arm and notice that as your arm presses into the earth, your leg stretches even more and extends toward the crown of your head.
This pose is an incredible stress reliever. Opening the side waist releases tension in the intercostal muscles (the muscles that connect the ribs), which often contract when you're under stress. Relaxing your head and neck empties your "thinking mind," which often fidgets and tinkers with ideas of what to do with particular parts of the body.
Stay here, enjoying the tide of your breath. As you inhale, lengthen your legs and spine. As you exhale, allow the weight of your head to invoke relaxation. If you can find rhythm through your breathing, you are on your way to tapping into global intelligence, where consciousness spreads through every cell. After 5 to 10 breaths, release and do this pose on the other side.
The challenge in this variation is to take what you just learned and add a movement: the shoulder-pressing action, which you find in the arm balance Bhujapidasana (Shoulder-Pressing Pose). When calling on this type of work in other poses, I call this action bhujapida (shoulder pressing) because you create a lever by pressing your upper thighs against the shoulders and pressing your shoulders against the upper thighs. The lever will help you lift your hips off the floor.
Start by sitting in Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose). Keep your left leg as it is and cradle your right leg with both hands, drawing it toward your chest as though you were holding a baby. Moving from your hip joint—not your knee—draw your right leg further to the right and back until you can slip your leg over your right shoulder. Place your right fingertips on the ground to keep you steady. If this is a struggle, return to cradling your right leg and work on opening your hips while your spine stays long.
Now it's time for some of that bhujapida action. To open your hip further, press your right shoulder against your knee. Now press the back of your knee against your shoulder to steady your upper thigh. Notice how the pressing action allows you to elongate your spine. But if you've lost your lightness of being, relax and create a spontaneous puppet show (and some much-needed levity) by animating your right foot.