Twistin, twistin, twistin the day away. Sounds like a dance tune, but it could be your new yoga mantra. Twists wring the body out and therefore help to release enormous amounts of tension. They are deeply cleansing and nourishing. After twisting, the musculature of the body relaxes and that area is filled with nutrients. . Twists feel great and your body will love them.
Twists are especially good for the spine. They strengthen the muscles that link the vertebrae keeping the whole structure open and flexible. If the spine is compressed or contracted circulation is impaired and those areas become malnourished and dry up. Twists improve mobility and release tension in the back muscles, spine, abdominal organs, shoulders, neck and hips. Consequently, these areas experience improved circulation and energy flow. Moreover, since every nerve in the body originates in the spinal cord, twists will help to rejuvenate and heal every part of the body.
As the trunk of the body rotates, the abdominal organs and kidneys are massaged and revitalized. This , of course, improves digestion and elimination. Neck aches, headaches, backaches and generalized stiffness can all be eliminated or diminished with a regular twisting practice.
As you practice the following poses, always remember to extend the spine before twisting. The extension of the spine creates space between the vertebrae which allows for a safer, deeper twisting action.
PASHASANA (easy noose twist pose): Sit on the floor with knees bent, feet flat and together. Wrap the left arm around the outside of both legs, holding onto the right calf with your left hand. Put your right hand on the floor directly behind you. Elongate your spine and press both sitbones down into the floor. As you inhale, lift your chest and pull the spine up. As you exhale, rotate to the right. From there keep elongating and rotating deeper as you exhale again. Breath smoothly and freely. Repeat the same movements with the other arm.
CHAIR TWIST-(This twist is especially good to practice at the office or on long road trips): Sit on the edge of the chair and turn toward the right side so you are sitting diagonally. Inhale and lift your right arm up to the ceiling. On the exhalation, move the right arm to the back of the chair on the opposite side, taking hold of the back of the chair. Bring the left hand to the right knee. Inhale and extend the spine through the top of the head. Exhale and twist to the right, pressing your right hand into the back of the chair to deepen the twist. Imagine that the shoulder blades are flowing down the back like a waterfall. Breathe into the side ribs. Relax the muscles of the back and gently twist a little farther. Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 breaths. On an exhalation, return to the center of the chair and repeat on the opposite side.
Some of you no doubt grew up doing the “real twist” to the sounds of the one and only Chubby Checker. If not, you missed an incredible experience. Either way, twistin in the past or not, take the time to put a twist into your life today. Your spine will love it and so will you.