The cold winter months so often leave us feeling stagnant indoors, longing for the warm weather that is just around the corner. As the seasons change, twisting yoga postures can support a graceful transition from winter into spring by opening stuck energy channels. As we twist, we wring out the old and allow space for the new, cleansing and detoxing our bodies and minds. Plus twisting postures aid digestion and help to relieve lower back pain, while improving the health of the spine.
Twist yoga postures have incredible cleansing effects on the body and mind:
- ~ Strengthen core, stimulate abdominal organs, and help to aid digestion
- ~ Relieve stress and anxiety while improving mental clarity
- ~ Stretch and strengthen muscles, ligaments, and joins in the back, chest, core, hips, and thighs
- ~Hydrate the intervertebral discs, preventing compression that can occur as we age
Practice twisting by following along with Yoga Journal’s instructional video that will help you cleanse, detox and purify the body with twists. This sequence begins with a simple seated twisting posture and then quickly moves onto the feet, culminating with some standing postures that will challenge you to balance and then twist. If you do only one section of the video, make sure to practice your twists on both sides of your body.
- ~ Many people twist before finding extension in the spine, which causes the top shoulder to climb up toward the ear, closing off the heart and limiting the range of motion in the twisting position. Practice rooting into the ground, finding extension in the spine, lifting the chest, and then twisting from your center.
- ~ People also experience some neck strain when looking over the opposite shoulder during twisting postures. A delicious modification is to tuck the chin toward the chest, elongating the back of the neck. With the chin slightly tucked, allow the movement of the neck and head to follow the twist coming from your center. This subtle shift takes pressure off the neck and refocuses attention inward, allowing ease and grace to exist during the challenge of twisting postures.
- ~ Does your opposite sitz bone lift when you are twisting in seated positions? No problem! Use a blanket or cushion under your one or both of your sitz bones to bring the floor to you. This will help you to feel grounded so you can find extension through your spine as your twist.
As you explore twisting yoga postures, take your time to feel grounded and deepen your breath. Then find extension in the spine before twisting from your center. Firmly rooted feet or sitz bones support the extension and then the rotation of the spine. With your heart lifted and shoulders relaxed, follow the guidance of your own breath, finding extension in the spine on the inhalation and twisting deeper on the exhalation. Imagine letting go of any stuck feelings, thoughts, or energy each time you twist, connecting your body with your mind, moving into spring with clarity and balance.
Contraindications Worth Noting:
~ If you have a recent or chronic back injury or inflammation in any part of your body affected by twisting, these postures may do more harm than good.
~ These postures are not recommended if you have herniated disc.