Lessons from the Mat: Show Yourself Some Love with Revolved Chair PoseArticle posted in: Fitness
By: Eliza Darling
Valentine’s Day… to some, the season of love represents fancy dinners, jewelry, chocolate, sexy lingerie and sentimental cards, but to many it can evoke feelings of loneliness, disappointment and/or inadequacy. The rosy red holiday that Hallmark and swanky restaurants everywhere eagerly await all year, is a day that single people dread and wish would quickly pass. There is a great expectation for exceptional love, and an uncompromised assumption that that love must involve another person.
How about we dedicate a day (or ideally longer) where we shift the focus from showing our love for another, to self-indulgently loving ourselves? What if instead of succumbing to the commercial pressure to shower someone else with gifts and treasures from the heart, we allow for ourselves to intimately feel the vast love that’s cultivated through self-acceptance and self-care? It can be challenging to deeply love ourselves and often causes us to feel guilty or selfish. We tell ourselves that if the love remains internal, there won’t be as much to put into the world. But love is not a reservoir from which we can only take to share with others; rather than the supply diminishing when we take for ourselves, it infinitely increases. A heart that feels love from its most personal source—the self—is a heart that has the effortless ability to boundlessly spread love out into the world. And there’s nothing this world needs more than love.
If you find it challenging to express, feel and accept love for yourself, I beg you to dedicate an entire day (or hour if you can’t spare more) to do what makes you feel special, excited, pampered and alive. For me, silence is a luxury that I rarely get with a toddler always at my heels, and though I love my son beyond anything in this universe, I crave and need time with myself, for myself. I know well enough that the expression of my love will be greater if I can dedicate time to doing nothing and have nothing asked of me. Meditation, sitting in silence and alone with my thoughts, and a nurturing yoga practice are my go-to tools for self-care. No matter how chaotic life gets and no matter how much my family needs me, the quality of my role as a mother and wife increases exponentially if I’ve allowed time to love, reflect, and care for myself.
So, this season, as the marketers of romance sell us on the promise of love, I encourage you to turn it around and shower YOURSELF with expressions of the guttural, intuitive, infinite love that flows from the well of the heart.
POSE OF THE WEEK: PARIVRTTA UTKATASANA (REVOLVED CHAIR POSE)
This pose builds on last week’s pose by adding a twist, which serves to lengthen and lighten the spine. Twists can be viewed as a detoxification tool. Imagine wringing out the toxins from the internal organs, to help improve your overall health.
This pose challenges and simultaneously empowers, asking the practitioner to go deeper, while allowing growth and expansion to take place. As the weight is grounded in the feet, there is an elevation of the heart and an outpouring of energy through the tips of the fingers. Many of the sequences I teach and practice start and end in this pose; the statuesque positioning of the body creates a lovely base from which movement can flow with strength and grace.
- Strengthens legs, buttocks and hips
- Strengthens mid and low back
- Helps to open the chest
- Can work to increase flexibility
- Can improve balance and posture
- Can help boost endurance and confidence
HOW TO DO IT:
- Start by standing upright (in Tadasana), feet together and firmly rooted on the floor, keeping legs actively engaged.
- Inhale and lift the arms parallel to the mat, fingers in line with the shoulders.
- Exhale, bend the knees and lower the hips, knees stacked over feet.
- Firm the inner thighs and the knees together.
- Sink hips down and knees back, slightly elevating the sternum.
- Slide the shoulder blades down the back.
- Inhale and bring the palms together in from the sternum, lifting the heart to the thumbs. You might recognize your movements into this pose from the traditional Chair Pose.
- Exhale and twist the torso to the right, hooking the left elbow to the outside of the right thigh.
- Draw the left knee back so both knees are in line with each other.
- Press the right palm into the left, and draw the right shoulder back.
- Keep the weight in the heels and press the feet together.
- Extend spine long with each inhale and deepen twist with each exhale.
- Hold pose for up to one minute. Inhale and untwist back to chair pose. Exhale and repeat on the left side.
TIPS & MODIFICATIONS:
- To protect the knee joints, don’t allow the knees to move forward of the toes.
- Don’t allow one of the knees to come beyond the other.
- Modify this pose by opening the arms up, lifting the top arm toward the ceiling and resting the fingertips of the other on a block or the floor. If the shoulders and chest are tight, keep the hands together at the heart.
- Avoid this pose if you are pregnant.
*Always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.