Yoga Practice as Process - Jathara Parivartanasana (Belly Twist)

Jatara Parivritti, or reclining belly twist, is a yoga pose that provides us with the opportunity to explore a dynamic, gravity-aided asana where we can gradually release and open with the support of the breath.

Vinyasa - To enter into this pose, start reclining on your back with the arms out to the side. On an inhale bend your left knee and draw your thigh in the direction of torso. Use your whole exhale to gradually lower your knee to the right, rolling to the outside edge of the right leg while trying to maintain the connection of shoulder blade to floor. As you inhale, draw the left leg back to the original starting position. Try entering and exiting this pose 4-6 times, inviting the body to gradually release and open.

Once you feel like you have a sense of where the body feels supported in the twist, hold pose for 5-10 breaths, maintaining smooth, even and soft breathing. On each inhale there will be a natural expansion. With each exhale invite the belly to relax and the contents of the stomach to descend towards the floor.

For those who want more challenge and have both the flexibility and strength needed for support, try entering, exiting and holding the pose with a straight leg. 

Support - I recommend making sure both the lower-back and shoulder feel supported, without pinching or pain. Should you experience these sensations either while entering or during the pose itself, I suggest trying to use some additional support to prevent unnecessary strain on the shoulder or lumbar spine. I find supporting the knee with a block or bolster and/or the wrist with a folder blanket can be useful.

Balancing or Counter-poses - A few options include, but are not limited to Apanasana (a gentle drawing of the thighs towards the stomach while reclining), and simply resting the soles of the feet on the ground with the knees bent comfortably (sometimes referred to as constructive rest pose). Try taking a few breath rounds in one of these positions after twisting to both sides.

Jatara Parivartanasana (Reclining Twist) #1
Jatara Parivartanasana (Reclining Twist) #2
Jatara Parivartanasana (Reclining Twist) #3