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:
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.