Sitting Twists workshop notes
Bodywise, 25 June 2006
Benefits of doing twists
- Health and realignment of the spine
- Promotes flexible attitude and ability to reflect other peoples perspectives.
- Cleanses. Detoxifies.
- The release of the spine activates the spinal cord which houses the central nervous system, the extension of the brain, and allows the mind to communicate clearly with the body. The better the freedom and suppleness of the spine, the better the communication system and control of the vital energy (Prana)
- On a physical level the twisting action nourishes and massages the pancreas, kidneys, stomach, small intestine, liver and gall bladder - Therefore tremendously aids digestion and relieves constipation.
- Relieves any tensions held in the lumbar spine
- Strengthens nerves and surrounding tissues of the spine
- Restricts blood flow into one side of the body, and when released has a flushing action
- Tones one side of the back muscles with the opposite abdominal
- Refreshes back muscles after long periods of sitting and is therefore important if you work at a desk, and after flying or long travel
- Makes us generally more flexible both physically and mentally.
- Helps us unravel /untwist physiological knots of the mind and make clear decisions in life
- Gives us greater co-ordination and efficiency
- Opens the chest giving us better lung power. Excellent for any lung restrictions and breathing problems. Improves breathing by stretching the intercostals muscles
- Stimulates spinal nerves
- Alternately stretching and compressing abdominal muscles as the body twists from one side to the other improves blood flow along the spine and oxygenates the brain
- Gives us a greater sense of well being
- Quietens the adrenal glands, therefore gives us calm energy
Awareness in asanas
Of course awareness is the key to Yoga, happiness and love of life. We can live a responsible and content life only if we bring awareness to everything we do, say and think. Regular Asana practice naturally teaches us how breath and movement unite in communicating with, and steadying the mind. It’s the tool to unveil our natural ability to stay focused on our whole being, to reach the meditative state of seeing inwards and outwards in the same moment.
I have included the following points therefore, not as a fragmented list of things to "do" or work on alternately, but as a little "check list" to make sure those of you who are not so experienced will not over tax or strain your spine, and confuse your sensitive mind in the process. In allowing the breath to flow evenly and consistently we give freedom and health to our body and minds. Jerky, strained or laboured breath within movement is tiring. We have to be especially aware of this whilst practicing twists. The body will quite rightly rebel against forceful movement to protect itself. We must remember that our bodies already know these ancient Yoga movements, we are not teaching the body something new but liberating it. Give time for body, mind and breath to work together in each posture. Please feel free to ask questions and to share any experiences your investigations bring up. I personally find it very helpful and fulfilling to share.
- Breathe smoothly and evenly. Your aim being to develop one constant, even breath flow, establishing internal rhythmic waves that will saturate the body and the mind.
- Twist from the abdominal region, not the hips or shoulders. Watch the spine isn’t leaning or concaving too much in the middle
- Neck open, avoiding any shoulder to ear tension
- Allow your eyes to guide you. Peripheral vision!
- Avoid twisting of sacroiliac joints. Rotate the spine around its own axis. Don‘t turn from the base. (Vital Principles of Rooting and Centering)
- Avoid strong abdominal twists whilst pregnant or during menstruation.
- Abdomen should be soft and open
- Be careful if you have very stiff hips, sciatica, neck problems
- Don’t twist soon after abdominal surgery
- High or low blood pressure. Squeezing and releasing action restricts and stimulates blood flow
- Could aggravate ulcers, hernias and some headaches
- Twist on an empty stomach
N.B Twisting postures should preferably be done after forward bends so I’ve given many of the twists to a forward bend friend I thought would enhance them. Enjoy!
- Sitting and Mula bandha Breath. Focus on smoothness of transition
- Peripheral vision
- Sacroiliac Joints - twist not turn
- Parivrtta Sukhasana
- Prasarita Padottanasana Kali Chakrasana (waist rotating pose)
- Suryanamaska 2 variation including Utthita Padangusthasana 3
- Adhomukha Svanasana
- Supta Vajrasana Parivrtta Marjariasana (twisting cat, one arm up then under)
- Ekapada Rajakapotasana forward bend Ardha Matsyendrasana return to Ekapada Rajakapotas Kapotasana Twist
- Supta Virasana 2 Bharadvajasana 1 & 2
- Adhomukka Navasana Ardha Baddha Paschimottanasana 1 & 2
- Upavistha Konasana Ardha Padmasana (or repeat Sukhasana if not possible)
- Paschimottanasana Marichyasana 1 3 & 4
- Adhomukha Paschimottanasana on ropes in pairs Pasasana
- Supta Vajrasana Jathara Parvottasana
- Sarvangasana Halasana Parsva Halasana
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 11.42 on contentment