Like a lot of 40-somethings, I spent a good amount of time in my childhood playing Tetris on Nintendo Classic (back then it was just called “Nintendo,” but whatever…)
My brother and I played the game for hours on end, our thumbs working feverishly to rotate the little blocks and plunk them into their places on the screen. Even now, if I sit down to a game of Tetris, my hands still have that muscle memory from over 30 years ago.
A lot of yoga poses are like Tetris blocks.
They start as one thing that seems individual, and even has it’s own name, but transform into something completely different when rotated. Take Tadasana (Mountain Pose) for example. It’s pretty straightforward: stand up strong and tall, like a mountain. But if you hit the “A” button and rotate Tadasana? BAM. Savasana. (Corpse pose). Mountain to Corpse in the tap of a button. Flip it again and you’ve got Sirsasana (Headstand). It’s the same shape (essentially a line – the “long one” in Tetris) but it serves different purposes depending on its orientation.
There are many Tetris-like shapes in yoga. But there are a few that are particularly useful. One is the “line” (above). And there’s also the “L” and the “Arc,” two shapes that work really well and complement each other nicely in the body. Try exploring with them and see how they feel for you!
Shape #1: The "L"
We see this shape in yoga A LOT. Depending on what you want from your practice, you can choose to do this shape in different ways. For example, if you’re looking to settle down mentally and physically, or maybe prepare yourself to fall asleep, try raised leg pose. (You can make it even more relaxing by propping your feet on a wall – Viparita Karani, or Legs up the Wall Pose).
Or, if you’d like to build strength in your back or lengthen your hamstrings, try one of the other variations.
SO MANY L's!
Shape #2: The Arc
The arc is a lovely counterpart to the L, because it opens the front body and hip flexor areas, and often has the potential to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings – areas we tend to lengthen/stretch a lot in yoga.
The arc represents backbends, and like the L shape, it can be done in active or passive ways, depending on what you’re working on.
For example, a simple, supported backbend during a work break is the perfect way to counteract curling forward posture. On the other hand, an active backbend like Bow or King Cobra will engage your back body, working to strengthen and tone the area.
Backbends are a crucial part of posture maintenance and well-balanced asana practice. Find one that works for you!
Just a few Arc poses:
Enjoy some Tetris fun in your yoga practice, and remember to keep it playful AND mindful! Do you have more Tetris shapes you’ve discovered in your practice? Share them in the comments!