We all have our favorite yoga asanas or postures and most yogis agree that twists are awesome. This week, we’re focusing on twists and how beneficial they are for your spine, your digestive organs, and your general sense of well-being. Of course, like all physical practices, it’s important to make sure you are using proper form and breathing techniques to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.
Twists help nourish your entire spine, help maintain spinal health and prevent back pain. Twisting is one of the major directions in which your spine moves, but how often do you twist throughout the day? Most of us move primarily in the sagittal (front to back) and frontal planes (lateral) which can lead to compression. Without balanced movement for our vertebrae, muscles, and connective tissues, our spine can grow stiff and tight.
A balanced yoga practice incorporating twisting postures will increase flexibility and mobility and help decrease back pain caused by poor posture.
Twisting’s benefits go beyond your bones and tissues. You’ve probably heard twists will help you “detox.” While that may be a slight exaggeration, twisting postures like Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes) or Parvritta Trikonasana (Twisting Triangle) will definitely help get your internal systems moving. When you twist, you compress your digestive organs and when you release the twist, a surge of fresh blood rushes to your organs, providing oxygenation. This increase in circulation can encourage enhanced digestion and elimination, thus leaving you feeling lighter and more buoyant. So although you aren’t actually “rinsing” your organs, you are encouraging your liver and kidneys to do their job more efficiently.
In addition to these tangible physical benefits, twists are an excellent way to release mental stress and tension.
Whether you choose challenging standing twists like Parvritta Utkatasana (Twisting Chair) or passive supine twists like Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclining Twist), you’ll not only release spinal tightness, but also alleviate anxiety that may be lurking in your tissues.
Here are a few techniques to use to maximize twist’s benefits. When standing or seated, make sure to keep your hips square and rotate from your waist and upper back, not your lower back. Maintaining the stability of your lumbar spine and sacrum is vital to a healthy back. Deeper isn’t always better––focus on strong, extended breathing and allow yourself to sink into the twist naturally. Inhale as you lengthen your spine and exhale as you move deeper into your twist. Relax!
This week we offer you four practices that highlight the healing powers of twisting. Twists are the most detoxifying family of yoga postures and these four classes will leave you feeling invigorated and supported, inside and out.
1. Caitlin Rose Kenney - Reclaim Your Mobility with Spinal Twists
2. Christen Bakken - Soft Heart With A Twist: A Chatarunga Free Practice
3. Elise Fabricant - Get Long & Twisty
4. Rob Loud - Twists & Binds
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