Earlier this week, my teacher gave a striking analogy for the movement of the spine in twisting poses. She said turn the latitudes of the body and that cue was a brilliant aid to move the trunk through it’s latitudinal plane. The phrase has stayed in my mind and notebook since then, often popping up to remind me to dig deeper into the same action in other poses.
Latitudes are imaginary lines, decreasing in size from the equator to the pole. Wide circular lines that shrink until the top of the earth. It retains its baseline regardless of the tilt of the earth as it wanders around the sun. Overlaying this imagery over twisting asanas makes for an interesting experience of inhabiting the movement into and out of the pose. Needless to say, the next day, I found new areas of my body groaning into awakening.
I’ve had different mental reactions to twists but the majority has been a certain sharpness of reflexes, clarity of thought and a lightness of body. It’s almost as though the squeeze expels all that is extraneous, leaving space for fresh thought and action. Many years ago, when clothes were still washed by hand, one would wring a piece of clothing to squeeze out all the excess water. It was a sort of twist and squeeze before release, leaving the garment ready to be left to dry in the light of the sun and gentle breeze. It used opposing forces to achieve the result, much like the parivritta action.
Most of the time, one looks at the effort in the pose, perfection in the pose, technique and technicalities but really, it is about the effect of the pose on one’s heart and mind long after the asana has been exited.