Pose of the Week: Parivrtta Paschimottanasana

Parivrtta means turned around, revolved. Paschima literally means the west and refers to the back of the entire body. Uttana means an intense stretch. This is a version of Paschimottanasana where the torso is revolved. Asana means posture or pose.
In the blog late last year we looked at Paschimottanasana.

Image: BKS Iyengar in Parivrtta Paschimottanasana in Light on Yoga (1966)
Last week we looked at the exhibitive quality of the asana in Hanumanasana or classical splits pose. We can create or make an expression of an asana from the outside, but we aim to bring an inner attention. BKS Iyengar calls this involution – it is the intuitive path with the direction towards the self.  
We move from the outside, which is our periphery. And our true periphery is our skin. We don’t think much about our skin and we really don’t know much about it unless it is hurt, cut, marked or burnt.  Our skin is an organ of perception. It gives us sensations and feelings. It receives it does not act, as the organs of actions do (for example, like the hands and feet). So when attempting a twist like Parivrtta Paschimottanasana, the nerves in the skin (efferent and afferent nerves) send messages. The efferent nerves send messages from the brain to the organs of action for them to act. The afferent nerves send messages from the organs of perception to the brain about what they perceive. It’s going on all the time! So the nerves of action and nerves of knowledge work together and this forms the union of yoga.

Image: On our annual retreat with Fiona Rawson at Phillip Island Yoga

In The Tree of Life BKS Iyengar writes, “There is an awareness through your whole being from the skin to the self and self to the skin. Then you know how to see outside and how to see inside. There is a fullness outside and a fullness inside” (p.62).

So when you are practicing Parivrtta Paschimottanasana you are working strongly with the arms and the legs to access the twist. Pause for a moment and consider the feel of the skin. This is focused awareness. The skin provides the feedback, the information required to truly be in the asana.

See you on the mat 🙂

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