As the freshness of Spring in the air beckons an emergence from retreat, introversion and inactivity, we are often called to get outside and embrace the gifts of the new season, to move more, play more and eat better. Spring signals new beginnings; and offers an opportunity to freshen up the body, mind and spirit.
On the yoga mat, include some twists in your practice to help blitz the wintery feelings of stagnation, slowness and heaviness that are often caused by a more sedentary, indoor lifestyle and the consumption of heavy, comforting foods. Twists can serve to invigorate a sluggish digestive system and wake-up a stiff spine. Mentally, the spiralling around movement can help us view life from a fresh perspective and realise how much room there actually is to move. Built-up tensions are released by wringing-out the body, allowing fresh, clean energy to invigorate every cell.
A sedentary lifestyle, including too much sitting can compress and age the spine. By first gently lengthening the spine, then rotating, the tiny muscles linking each vertebra to it’s neighbour are strengthened and receive a welcome stretch. Twists apply pressure on the abdominal organs so that the deoxygenated blood can be squeezed out, allowing a delivery of fresh oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the digestive system. This ‘squeeze and release’ action gets toxins and waste products moving through the intestines more efficiently.
Each vertebra of the spine is separated and cushioned from it’s neighbour by a disc. These discs are made of fibrocartilaginous material and so do not have a direct blood supply. Spinal movement, including twists, help deliver essential nutrients to the discs to keep them healthy and functioning well.
When to Twist?
Twist are best done on an empty-ish belly, prior to or 2-3 hours after eating. Within a full yoga sequence, twists are particularly useful to do after backbends.
How to twist
(First take a look at the photo of me below, as this is the the pose that the below steps will guide you in doing)
- Come to a comfortable crossed-leg seated position on the floor
- Relax the face, shoulders, legs
- Breathe in and sit tall. Focus on lengthening the spine from the base up
- Take hold of your left knee with your right hand
- Take the left hand behind you, tent your fingers on the floor for support
- As you breathe out, start to rotate your belly, chest, shoulders, neck and head to the left, check your chin is parallel to the floor
- Take a few breaths here – as you inhale, ‘grow tall’, as you exhale, see if you can twist a little deeper
- After 7 – 10 comfortable breathes, slowly release the hands and unfurl back to centre.
- Try the other side.
I want to know, have you tried twisting like this before? Do you like it? And how does it make you feel? Share your experiences via the comments below… I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
P.S. Do you know someone who could benefit from some gentle yoga twisting? Share this with them now. The big buttons below are here to help you spread the word!
This article is part of the 2015 ‘Spring Into Wellbeing’ Hub: Check it out for expert health and wellbeing tips, guides and advice from Australia’s leading wellbeing experts – inspiring and empowering you to unlock the path to true wellness this Spring.