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In Yoga, twisting postures are important because they are one of the foundational movements of the spine and require the use of the abdominal muscles, back, shoulders and pelvis. Keeping these areas active is especially important because many of us spend a lot of time seated, which can effect the mobility of the spine. Twisting also engages the joints and helps to relieve tension. Twists can be done in a variety of ways; standing, seated, reclined and inverted, but make sure that when trying out a new twist that it is something you can comfortably maneuver as protecting the spine is key in twisting postures.
Some of the Benefits of Twisting postures:
Relieves pressure on the lower vertebrae: Brings oxygen in and improving circulation to the muscles along the spine.
Increases flexibility of the spine: Improves range of motion and encourages correct posture and helps to relieve back pain.
Cleanses bodily tissues: The twisting motion removes toxins by wringing them out, flushing away impurities to allow organs to perform properly.
Improves digestion: Assists in moving food through the intestines and helps to work out gas relieving indigestion.
Supplies fresh oxygen and nutrients: Twisting puts pressure on the muscles and organs which removes old fluids and replaces them with fresh, oxygenated blood and nutrients.
Things to keep in mind when Twisting:
Make sure you are comfortable: Twist only as far as your body comfortably allows, without forcing the twist and make sure to gradually deepen the twists.
Stabilize your Core: Before you move into the twist make sure the body is properly aligned, with the shoulders back, spine long and body active.
Move with Care and Control: Before moving into the twist, actively lengthen the spine. As you move into or out of the twist, begin first in the waist and then in the neck.
Pay attention to the Breath: Begin a twist by slowly inhaling and lengthening your spine. Exhale, slowly moving into the twist. As you hold the twist, the breath should be able to flow with ease, helping you to lengthen with each inhalation and gently twist a little deeper with each exhalation.
Practice special care when Twisting if:
You have any spinal injuries: Pain both acute and chronic in the neck or back, including herniated discs. It’s advised that individuals with or at risk for herniated discs should practice gentle seated twists as they offer the most support to a vertical spine.
You are Pregnant: Bring the twist only into the shoulders, neck and upper back letting the pelvis stay neutral, the stomach and hips relaxed. During pregnancy there are different precautions depending on trimester so speak with your physician and your instructor for posture specific instructions.
Stay tuned for future post, sequences and session that utilize cleansing twists.
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+