DevaTree Blog

The Yummiest Yoga Assist Ever

Posted By Brenda Dowell on May 30, 2017

Years ago, I was in a lying down twist and my teacher gave me an assist that created space—an incredible opening—between my hips and my rib cage. My trust in my teacher allowed me to surrender and soften enough to receive assistance, while still honouring the needs and limitations of my body. I couldn't believe how spacious and open I felt.  

It was expansive. I fell in love with that feeling in my body. 

I wanted to recreate it in every pose.

I wanted to recreate it in my life.

That experience sparked a desire for more freedom and space in my mind, heart, and life. It reminded me how important spaciousness is, and how I could use that feeling of freedom to optimize my potential and lessen frustration and upset.

Reflecting on that moment in yoga, I realized at times I've created unnecessary tension in relationships (often with family), by trying to control people’s actions. I’ve put expectations on them that they couldn’t live up to, or I’ve been frustrated by their inability to give and/or receive support.

In recent years, I've had many opportunities to pause, breathe and soften my grip on control issues. I’ve discovered that when I surrender, open to support, and create a bit of space (like I did in that pose), I can show up differently. I can be seen and respected without friction. I still falter and fall back into rigidity but I don’t stay there as long as I used to. 

I love the physical contact in yoga for many reasons, but especially because it helps me soften. That yoga teacher didn’t realize it, but his loving, intentional support helped me access a gentler and more honouring way to live. 

Yoga assists ask us to soften our need to control everything. They help us breathe deeper, listen to our body, and recognize the opportunity for something different. 

They offer us the possibility to experience life differently than what we've always created by helping us let go of old patterns that no longer bring us joy.

My yummy epiphany came in a spinal twist. Spinal twists give us an opportunity to squeeze out old patterns and discern their usefulness in our bodies and in our lives.

Want to feel a bit of what I felt that day? 

Try this assist at home with a partner, or ask your yoga instructor to help you. If you’re practicing solo, imagine you’re receiving the assist and see if the visualization creates more space.

Steps for Assisted Jathara Parivartanasana:

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and drop both knees to one side while keeping your shoulders down. Open/separate your knees if there’s too much pull on the back.
  2. Have your partner stand close to your lower back on the opposite side to your knees.
  3. Have your partner reach down and place their hand on your hip-bone (hooking the rim of the pelvis) while you stretch the same side arm to the side at shoulder height or overhead.
  4. As you inhale, lengthen with the breath.
  5. As you exhale, the partner draws your hip away/down from your shoulder. This allows you to lengthen and hold the position for a few breaths, creating space between your hip and your rib cage.
  6. Make sure to communicate with your partner so you get it just right.
  7. Release and repeat on the other side

Have you ever had a life-changing hands-on assist? Or, what’s your yummiest yoga assist to give or receive? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

With Love,

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6 Comment(s)

mandara on May 30, 2017
I realize assists are a curious thing for me -metaphorically and physically. I'm happy to be the recipient of an assist in yoga class but not so great at asking for assistance in my daily life. You're on to it when you say yoga assists ask us to soften and surrender. Perhaps a much needed surrender and softening in my life off the mat so that the asking for assistance is easier. I've had many amazing assists. I feel the ones that I most remember are those that I can sense the pure intention of the giver. Thank you Brenda for being the giver of many wonderful gifts.
Brenda on May 30, 2017
Mandara thank you for your insight. What a great awareness you have for how you receive. I agree that intention is paramount when giving assistance both on and off our mats as it can be felt and transmitted. Much love, Brenda
Tamika on May 30, 2017
Just reading your words, I felt lengthening, opening, and softening in my body. What a gift this yoga thing is. I love you, Bee. xOM
Brenda on May 30, 2017
Thank you Tamika. I love that you can feel the spaciousness by reading the experience. I agree, that this yoga thing is quite incredible. Much love, Brenda
Varama on May 30, 2017
I have fallen in love with assists, particularly the assist in Child pose and the one you mention in your blog. The feeling of being grounded, rooted to earth, supported as well as an offering of expansion and opening, not only is felt on a physical level as well as blended emotionally and spiritually for me. I am so grateful that Yoga has given me a gift to soften and surrender to the assists, physical and verbal, as I have been able to "let go" and "trust" , and allow myself to be nurtured both on and off the mat. I love to be the recipient of assists, but I also love to offer loving nurturing to others. I'm so grateful for your teachings. Love you B. Varana xoxo
Brenda on May 31, 2017
Varana, thank you for sharing such heartfelt sentiments on your love of both giving and receiving assists. There is such an opportunity for deep connection of mind, body, heart and soul in Yoga and in life. It sure sounds like you are living yours. I'm grateful for you and all that you offer - keep assisting. Much love, Brenda

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