Towards the end of a yoga practice, as we lay on the floor getting ready for shavasana, or corpse pose, the pose of rest, we often take a spinal twist. As we lay on our backs with our knees bent, using the breath, we allow the knees, to fall softly to one side, our arms spread out on each side of us in a T shape, and our head to the opposite side.
Depending on your level of lower back flexibility, there are varying degrees of depth to the pose. For me, I have an ongoing level of discomfort in my lower back. It's just something I have to work with. I attend to to it in all poses with care, as it's an awareness I have that heeds my attention. I generally place my hand on my knees as I focus my breath, and slowly and surely, as I focus my attention on the areas of concern, my lower back releases a little more. As with any discomfort, whether it's ongoing or something new you're nursing, there's a degree of holding- of protecting, as we want to be therapeutic in our attention to our areas of concern.
The longer we lie in a pose with attention on the area of focus, directing our breath to that area, the more able and willing we are to let go of the holding. We use our breath as we allow our knees to fall closer to the ground. Often, the instructor will will come around to each student and gently offer assistance to further the pose. This can be welcome or unwelcome depending on your level of holding, and your level of discomfort. If the Instructor is intentional and follows your breath and her own breath, you may realize an opportunity to release a little more. With a hand on your shoulder and a hand on the opposite hip, knowing you have a hand to support you, you can get a degree of release you may not have gotten on your own. With support, you can always do more than without. With support, you allow yourself to let go more, and to fully express what your body wants to, but resists. With support, you make the conscious decision to release, and you reach a potential you might not have reached on your own.
Encouragement and Support are invaluable.