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TWISTS

 

Twists penetrate deep into the body's core, stimulating internal organs, particularly the kidneys and liver. Twists create suppleness and freedom in the spine whilst opening the chest, shoulders, neck and hips. Active twists strengthen the abdominal obliques. Regular twisting helps maintain the normal length and resilience of the spine's soft tissues and the health of the vertebral disks and facet joints of the spine, restoring the spines natural range of motion. By twisting our body more and more into a pretzel, we more easily unwind the accumulated physical and emotional tension contained in the body.

Another name for this family could be internally rotated femur postures which generally stretch the external rotators and abductors, whilst strengthening the internal rotators and adductors.  We will be linking the Myofascial MeridianSpiral Line (SPL) for more understanding of how these poses affect the body. The SPL's overall movement function is to create and mediate spirals and rotations in the body. 

* As we work through each posture, remember the intricate and infinite layers of integration involved. There's no 'right way'. Here we are playing with how asanas relate to one another, how they work together to open the body, and how they build upon one another to further open and balance our bodies. 

 

GENERAL ALIGNMENT PRINCIPLES

  • Breathing deeply, rooting down, and lengthening up are the keys to deeper twisting. 

  • When twisting the vertebrae are naturally drawn closer together, compressing the rib cage and lungs, which makes it more difficult to fully inhale and slowly exhale. Give emphasis on deepening the inhale and slowing the exhale. 

  • The key to lifting and lengthening is through rooting, especially in seated twists. Root down into pelvis and sit bones maintaining length and stability in the lower back. 

  • Explore slightly easing out of the twist with each exhale and finding more ease in lift, length and rotation with each exhale. 

  • Encourage caution and comfort in leveraging twists. E.g pressing elbow into knee to deepen. 

  • The neck can be held evenly or added to the twist if comfortable. Find length in the neck, drawing shoulders down the back and spreading across the collarbones. 

  • Twists can be taught in different ways, some styles encourage the hips to stay completely level or the sitting bones fixed to the floor as you twist. This makes for a deeper twist in the areas of the spine which are able to move. Other teachers say that it is easier on the SI joint to let the opposite hip lift slightly, this is a more natural movement for the body.

 

INTEGRATION & COUNTERPOSE

  • We can use forward bends, side bends and back bends to release the large outer layers of the trunk muscles and then find fuller rotation at the deeper level of smaller spinal muscles. 

  • Introduce twists in a sequence that allows the gradual rotational opening of the spine.

  • For standing twists we can prepare by first practicing twist free standing asana that open the hips, hamstrings, spine and shoulder girdle.  

  • Refrain from moving back and forth between internally rotated standing asana to externally in creatively sequence classes that vary week on week

  • Avoid moving from internally rotated standing balance asana into externally rotated because the extreme downward pressure of the femoral head can injure that bone or the hip joint. 

  • In beginner classes sequence standing balances earlier on in the main body of the class before the legs get too tired. 

  • Twists are excellent for neutralising the spine after deep backbends and forward bends also. 

  • Twists are great for relieving lethargy, they mildly stimulate the nervous system, reawakening energy flow and so work well following deeply relaxing sequences of forward bends and hip opening. 

  • After intensive twisting gentle backbends can help integrate the effects of the twists.

GENERAL CONTRAINDICATIONS

  • Chronic digestive issues (especially inflammatory conditions) - ask Dr's advice

  • Spinal disc injury - consult physical therapist about what movements are ok for you.

  • Pregnancy – some twists should be skipped because of the pressure they place on the abdominal cavity. Practice with an experienced pregnancy yoga teacher if you’re just starting out.

  • SI joint issues - certain yoga poses won’t work for you.

SPIRAL LINE  (SPL) 

The SPL loops around the body in two opposing helices, right and left, joining each side of the skull across the upper back to the opposite shoulder, and then around the ribs to the front to cross again at the level of the navel to the hip. From the hip, the Spiral Line passes like a ‘jump rope’ along the anterolateral thigh and across the shin, passing under the foot and running up the posterolateral side of the leg to the ischium and into the erector spinae myofascia (of either side, depending on posture or position) to end very close to where it started on the skull.

The SPL functions posturally to wrap the body in a double spiral that helps to maintain balance across all planes. The overall movement function of the SPL is to create and mediate spirals and rotations in the body, and to steady the trunk and leg to keep it from folding into rotational collapse; it helps to determine efficient knee-tracking in walking.

 

Much of the myofascia in the SPL also participates in the SBL, SFL, LL as well as the Deep Back Arm Line. The SPL is involved in a multiplicity of functions, so that dysfunction in the Spiral Line can affect the easy functioning of these other lines. Because most people worldwide have a dominant and recessive hand, leg, and eye, the Spiral Line is rarely perfectly balanced side-to-side, but is functionally adaptable within fairly wide tolerances.

 

In imbalance, the SPL participates in creating, compensating for, and maintaining twists, rotations, and lateral shifts in the body.

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