Jathara Paravritti: Abdominal Twist
By Gary Kraftsow
Under pressure because of looming deadlines? Feeling stressed because your to-do list is daunting you and seems to be growing by the minute? It happens. Life is filled with ups and downs which is why we have our yoga practice to keep us balanced, soulfully serene and vibrantly connected to our inner-self. While we cannot control what happens outside of us, we CAN and DO control how we react to such circumstances. A wonderful twisting asana that thrives to destress is jathara paravritti: abdominal twists.
Jathara Parivritti stretches the lower lumbar spinal muscles while simultaneously stretching and strengthening the hip abductors to keep you mobile. The emphasis here is to gently twist and compress belly, reducing and effectively relieving back pain caused by every modern living while also progressively increasing the number of breaths while surrendering into posture. Asanas involving twists are mentally and emotionally uplifting as they help one deal with anxiety. Poses that involve stretching and lengthening the mobility of the spinal column in a twist open the chest, shoulders and back which help to decrease sensation of emotional unsteadiness and anxiousness. Such emotional baggage is stored in the hips, thus, as with jathara paravritti the hip abductors are opened, strengthened and stretched which releases stored up emotional tension and results in a positive state of mind. Maintaining that the function comes before the form of the asana, when twisting slowly, methodically and guided solely by the breath, the benefits of such twists are felt even deeper and stronger through the physical, emotional and mental bodies.
Twists offer a physical detox as well; therefore, aiding in digestive function. And we all want to have our digestion working in optimal form! As you twist, the blood supply to your digestive organs is hauled and then upon releasing the twist and placing your back into neutral position, fresh blood is re-introduced to your abdominal organs which overall, helps to cleanse the cells of any built up waste.
To go into jathara paravritti, begin by lying on your back and with your inhale, lift and bend your knees towards your chest while extending your arms out from the shoulders in a T-shape with the palms facing down onto the floor. On your exhalation, slowly lower your knees to the floor on your right side, twisting through the abdomen and not the thoracic spine as you simultaneously turn your neck to the left. If this rotation in the cervical spine discomforts your, feel free to maintain neutrality in the neck as you look upwards with your chin gently tucking in towards your chest. On your inhalation breath, lift and return your bent knees to center towards the chest and if your head was turned to the left, return the neck and gaze back to center. Again, use the entire duration of the exhalation breath to lower the bent knees over to the left side while glancing over your right shoulder with a soft dristi beyond your right fingertips.