a week of Parshvakonasana

a week of Parshvakonasana

Last week I announced my “every day” pose for the week to be Parshvakonasana. My intentions in practicing this pose were to balance my asymmetry between my left and right sides and to work on two main actions: flowing the hamstring of the front leg towards the knee and the quadricep towards the hip as well as moving the inner rear thigh towards the outer rear thigh.  As I worked on this pose throughout the week, though, it was clear to me that the primary intention was to work on my asymmetry and just to commit to doing the pose every day.  The two main actions simply gave me something to focus on while in the pose. It turned out that my chief goal was getting in and staying in the pose.

Parshvakonasana isn’t exactly my favorite pose; none of the laterally expanding standing poses are really.  External rotation is always a challenging action for me due to my internally rotated femur bones. And my glutes could be stronger…  So my first challenge in picking this pose was really just to do it.  Give me Vira 1 and Parivrtta Trikonasana any day of the week, and I’ll take them happily.  I’m sure that if I hadn’t picked this pose I might have only done it once or twice this week.  I’m hoping to keep the ball rolling on this pose and continue with it for my “every day” pose next week as well.

Why? Well, unlike Baddha Konasana (the previous week’s pose), I found that continued practice of Parshvakonasana didn’t always just get easier every time I did it.  Depending on what I had been doing for the rest of my time (sitting, walking, biking or taking a class), I found the pose to be easier or more challenging.  My progress in the pose didn’t hold as easily and consistently as it has with other “every day” poses. I soon realized that attachment to an ever-deepening pose was the wrong attitude to take with Parshva. As Patanjali instructs us, consistent practice without attachment to success or failure is what brings progress in yoga.

And the progress I wanted to feel was greater balance between my two sides.  Typically, I let the right side set the tone and pace for this pose. I then challenge the left side to “keep up”. As a result, if I’m using a brick under my hand, it is always on a lower height for the right side than the left. This week, I flipped it.  I let the left set the standard; the right could only go as low as the left could. I also set the timer and only held the right side for as long as I could the left.  While in the pose, I practiced my two main actions.

What I learned from letting my left side lead and set the pace for my work is that, in doing so, I was also practicing compassion. In fact, that was my practice work for this week. Parshvakonasana was just the pose that gave me the doorway towards this deeper yogic work.  Then I could see what other “left sides” in my life deserved a more compassionate approach.

What was your “every day” pose for this week? And what did it teach you?

Letitia Walker
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