Yoga twists: Watch this video to experience the benefits of chair twisting.
Caution! You are not a pretzel!
There are many reasons why most yoga practitioners love twisting postures, but the main one is the purely satisfying sensation they get after releasing the pose. We are not used to rotating the spine in such way, which is why beginners in yoga feel the refreshing benefits of Ardha Matsyendrasana right from the first attempt.
The most important thing to remember when introducing twists into your practice is to go slowly and progress from the easiest towards the more complex poses. If you are not aware of the natural structure and tendencies of your spine, your body will give a warning sign when you are not ready for a pose. Listen to the signs and don’t go to extremes.
What Can Spinal Twists Do For You?
The twisting motion of the spine incorporates many parts of your body, including the pelvis, spine, shoulders, neck, legs, and abdominal muscles. Twisting postures improve the flexibility and strength of the entire body. Among the many benefits you will gain from yoga twists, these will be the most obvious ones:
- When holding a twist, your digestive organs are compressed, but they get a greater supply of fresh blood when you release the posture. This provides them with a rush of nutrients and fresh oxygen, which boosts the digestive function of your body. When the digestion is boosted, your energy levels are enhanced as well.
- Yoga twists stimulate the functions of the liver and pancreas, and regulate the work of the kidneys and the adrenal gland.
- Naturally, the flexibility of your spine will be improved with regular practice of yoga twists. Sure, that means that you will be able to do more advanced asanas, but the more important thing is that these postures have a great effect over the energy points in your body.
- If back pain is troubling you after a hard day of work, then you will easily experience the healing sensation of a twist. Your lower back area suffers a lot from a day spent on a chair, but these positions restore the circulation and relieve the feeling of pressure and pain in that area.
- These postures will relax and open the back, shoulders and chest. That will diminish the tension not only from your body, but from your mind as well.
- A yoga twist will get your mind focused on the posture and calm it down. The focus and serenity will penetrate much deeper and help you get into a meditative state.
When to Be Cautious With Yoga Twists
- Avoid practicing twists if you have chronic back pain, degenerative disk disease or serious back injury.
- If you are suffering from insomnia, you shouldn’t practice twists before going to bed. These postures invigorate and energize the entire body, so it might be more difficult to fall asleep after the practice.
- Deep twists are not recommended for pregnant women because they put pressure on the uterus. If you are expecting, you can adjust Ardha Matsyendrasana by making a gentle twist from the shoulders in the opposite direction (not against the leg).
- If you notice any unusual discomfort in a twisting position, you could do more harm than good by pushing it. Remember: go as far as your body is willing to permit at the moment.
5 Yoga Twists to Start With
1. Torso Twist on a Chair is something you can do away from your yoga mat. When you’re spending long hours in the office, try twisting your body in both directions and you’ll immediately feel better. The stiffness in your shoulders and neck will be relieved. Don’t worry; no one will think you look weird.
2. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)is one of the essential postures in yoga practice. The simpler versions are mild enough for beginners, but strong enough to provide them with all benefits of side twists.
3. Ardha Marichyasana (Half Marichi the Sage Pose) looks easy, but is more difficult than it seems. It will take a while for you to get into perfect alignment, but the deep twist is worth waiting for.
4. Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose) is a great asana to add to your practice after you feel completely comfortable in Trikonasana. It requires great focus and flexibility, so you can use a block if you cannot reach the foot or it’s difficult to keep your balance in the pose.
5. Parsva Utkatasana (Powerful Pose with Prayer and a Twist) this pose also requires great flexibility of the spine and shoulders, so take your time to work your way towards the perfect alignment. Avoid practicing it if you are menstruating or you have an active headache.
Stay Committed to Your Practice And the Results Will Come!
Twisting postures hold great value in all styles of yoga. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Matsyendrasana is presented as a weapon that destroys deadly diseases. Regular practice of this asana awakens the kundalini and brings balance to the three doshas of the human body: vata, pitta and kapha.
Needless to say, you won’t get into the full Matsyendrasana at the beginning of your practice. Twisting your body in such way is more difficult than it seems, so be patient and respect your current limits. The results will be inevitable.