Today, for the 1st time ever in many years of putting my oldest daughter on the "short bus", I got beeped at to hurry up.
And it didn't bother me one bit.
This story is only remarkable because, for the majority of the last 15 years, I would have been horrified and guilt ridden by this. I was already keenly aware of those folks stuck behind the bus, and any other place where I was trying to maneuver my disabled child in public. How dare I inconvenience people? They have to wait for us. They must be so mad at me! And on and on. No matter how fast I moved or tried to shrink my existence, I was still taking up someone's space and time, and I had no right to.
Flash forward to today after many years of yoga philosophy, self- study, and practice. I helped Sophia onto the bus, waited while the bus aide got her buckled, kissed her goodbye, and reminded the driver that I was picking her up after school. Before I even made it off the bus, I heard beeping and saw the dump truck driver gesturing wildly at me in the universal sign of "what the hell are you doing?"
So I dramatically shrugged at him, waved to Sophia, and walked away without even looking back. No guilt, no shame, no defensive anger.
There's a cool story about the Buddha but I don't remember the details, so I'll get right to the moral......... If someone gifts you a bag of broken glass, you don't have to extend your hand and receive it.
The driver's anger and frustration was his gift to me. I could have accepted it and emotionally responded in kind, spending the rest of the day reliving it and trying on different responses (I should've yelled! I should've apologized! I should've flipped him off!). Instead, I recognized his anger as his own and not mine to take on. So I simply chose not to receive it.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind enlightened being. Stuff pisses me off regularly. But today and in this circumstance, my "I need to be universally approved of at all times" trigger was silent. I know it's because of the time I've spent observing my own emotional reactivity, identifying the source, and changing those habitual thought patterns that cause my own suffering.
It's time folks! Get out those poodle skirts and pomade, we're gonna do the Twist!
Well, it is yoga. Do what you want with your hair, but dial back to skirts to some comfy yoga pants because we're going to spend November incorporating a lot of twisting into our yoga practice. But first things first, let's outline the basic alignment for a simple seated twist. In other blog posts, we'll get more in depth with the muscular anatomy of a twist, health benefits, and variations.
Our standard Seated Spinal Twist in class takes two general variations depending on the students' interest and knee joint comfort. In Ardha Matsyendrasana as shown above, the left foot is hopped over the right leg and the right leg can be bent as shown or extended straight. In Parivritta Marichyasana, the upper body position remains the same, but the right leg would be extended straight while the left foot is placed on the inside of the right knee.
Benefits of Seated Twist:
¨ Supports digestion and elimination
¨ Creates space between the vertebrae and facilitates rotation
¨ Enhances lung capacity
¨ Tones the core, shoulders and neck
¨ Calms the nervous system
How to Do Seated Twist Pose aka Parivritta Marichyasana:
Sit down on the mat with a folded blanket propping the hips and with both legs stretched out in front of you and arms at your sides. Flex the calves briefly to warm up.
Bend the left knee towards the ceiling and place the left foot on the floor in line with the right knee , calf, or thigh.
Inhale – Lengthen the spine.
Exhale - Rotate towards the left side with left knee bent and right leg straight as before.
Twist your body to the left, and wrap the right arm around the left knee. Left arm is behind you and head looks over your left shoulder.
Breathe mindfully into this pose, taking care to keep your belly pulled in, back straight, and hips stabilized. The twist takes place right at the naval center, activating the torso without going into the lower back.
Use the left arm to stabilize so you can get a deeper stretch. Right leg stays straight out with toes pointed towards the ceiling.
Contraindications for Seated Twist:
Those with knee and hip limitations should practice modifications, like not bending the knee as deeply or crossing one leg over the other. Those with spinal injuries and history of surgery should also mind their body's natural range of motion, stopping at the sensation of stretch without moving into pain.
Stay tuned for more explorations about twist poses this month. And although I encourage you to twist, I ask that you keep the shouting to a minimum.
I want to share with you the yoga I practice, teach, and live.