Ahh twists, some of our favorite poses, and with good reason – they have many benefits! No yoga class or sequence would be complete without a twist or two…or three.. or four. Here are a few things to keep in mind for your yoga practice:
1. From the perspective of a yoga teacher, twists are counter-balancing poses, they create a neutralizing effect to a specific string of poses so that the next steps in the asana sequence can be opposing work and they give time for inner reflection, to “feel” the effect of what was experienced. This builds body awareness of the unique ways that certain poses affect each person so as to appreciate the learning opportunity of where you need to build more time to bring balance into the body with asana practice.
2. Gentle twists can be held longer and thus relieve tension held in the muscles of the back.
3. Twists can be passive (a kind way to introduce new movement and/or to respect the need for conserving energy) or active (strengthening).
4. Twists enhance circulation to the organs, and aid digestion. In this sense they are considered detoxifying.
5. The release of tension in the body helps to create space, to undo habits of “holding” or subconscious bracing patterns. Thus, there is a release of the emotional stress/trauma associated with them, without having to overthink/re-live the cause. The awareness of this helps us over time, with practice, to let go of the negative habits and begin to substitute new healthy habits. In this sense, twists invite healing!
6. BKS Iyengar described twists as helping to wring out the organs. Although there is not research to support this, we do see that twists increase the mobility of the organs relative to each other and to the spine/skeleton, thus helping the system of fascia and the health of the organs with some perfusion.
7. Twists increase mobility of the spine and rib cage.
8. It is OK for people with osteoporosis to do gentle twists, human bodies are meant to move!
9. Twists build heat in the body – be ready for that.
10. Twists may feel like they come from the waistline/lumbar spine but those vertebrae have very little rotational capacity (5 degrees usually). The sensation comes from the musculature/tissues of this area of the body. Thus, we should aim to turn on the axis of the spine and aim to twist from the middle to upper rib cage. This will certainly maintain safety and build mobility of the rib cage and spine.
Need more reasons? Share yours as you share on your practice.
You can do a practice of only twists and then rest in savasana. When in a restorative pose, connect to your breath and then focus on the residue of having practiced a twist. What did you learn about… YOU? We’d love to hear from you and see your practice – there is beauty and inspiration in learning from and celebrating each other. Share with us about your yoga practice!