Knowing that February is a month we really get serious on our ‘detoxing’ and considering over 200 of us are doing 30
Your peak pose is SIDE CROW. It’s a fun arm balance, involving lots of twisting and side waist shaping. Think twists and core, baby!
Twists are ideal for any kind of detox and you’ve probably heard your yoga teacher say on a regular basis that they rinse like a sponge. What does this actually mean though?
There are physiological benefits to the circulatory system and internal organs, structural benefits to the musculoskeletal system, and focusing benefits to your consciousness.
Squeeze & Soak to cleanse – Indian yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar describes twists as a “squeeze-and-soak” action: The organs are compressed during a twist, pushing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. When we release the twist, fresh blood flows in, carrying oxygen and the building blocks for tissue healing. So from the physiological standpoint, twists stimulate circulation and have a cleansing and refreshing effect on the torso organs and associated glands.
Full Range of Motion – You only need to come out of a 5 breaths long twist to feel the often immediate benefits. In yoga twists we involve the spine, as well as several major joints – including the hips and shoulders. In fact, full range of motion in spinal rotation is essential to many yoga poses and practicing just a simple twist daily can have huge benefits. And in fact, if you don’t lengthen the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia (connective tissues) to their full length at least a few times a week, they will gradually shorten and limit the nearby joint’s mobility.
Tip Top Discs & Joints – In the case of twisting, the limitation is usually in soft tissues around the spine, abdomen, rib cage, and hips. If you regularly practice yoga twists, there are some clear benefits to these same joints and soft tissues. Not only do you maintain the normal length and resilience of the soft tissues, but you also help to maintain the health of the discs and facet joints (the small pair of joints on the back of the spine where each two vertebrae overlap).
1. In a twists we want to lengthen the spine on the inhalation (even if this means coming out of the depth of the posture a little bit) and then twisting gently on the exhalation. For this reason there is a constant ebb and flow in your twist and gentle movements throughout.
2. Use the force of an arm or other hand less and your breath more. Allow the above tip to move the body gently.
3. Focus on the exhalation. Ultimately this is what gently squeezes out the organs. Give yourself a little pause at the base of the exhalation. In a closed twist you may also find it challenging to breath in deeply – don’t fight this. Try shorter inhalations and long exhalations.
4. Visualise Your Twist – In my classes, I’ll often ask you to close your eyes and imagine the twist. Visualisations in yoga help to understand where your body is, from both a skeletal and muscular stand point and can often deepen your twist.
See you on the mat,