Even though we’re moving our arms, legs, and head throughout class, each posture is built around the movement of the spine.
Your spine twists in Standing Bow Pulling Pose and Triangle Pose, but Spine Twisting Pose is the first time you twist your entire spine, tailbone to the top of your cervical spine. This is a great way to rebalance your spine at the end of class and bring nutrients to that area of your body.
Because Spine Twisting Pose comes last, when students might be tired, and because we only do one set, it can be tempting to zip through the posture without putting in maximum effort. Try your best to give this posture a little extra effort, especially during the set up. You just might be rewarded during class with a mini-spinal adjustment, and you will definitely be rewarded over time with a healthier spine.
There are two crucial elements to establish before you begin to twist.
- Rest your two hips evenly on the floor. You might be able to feel the ischial tuberosities (sit bones or “butt bones” at the bottom of your pelvis) resting on the floor. It’s totally normal for one hip to be higher than the other, usually on the side of the leg that is bent up toward your abdomen.
- Point the toes of your bottom leg foot. This will help you move your heel out from underneath the hip.
- Roll your weight forward and toward your bent-up leg.
- Leave your left knee on the floor
- Straighten and lengthen your spine. You’ve heard teachers highlight this piece of advice from the first breath of Pranayama Breathing. Create length in your spine before you move your spine.
- With your hips neatly resting on the floor, lengthen through the crown of your head. Lift and open your chest.
- Bring your abdomen closer to your bent-up leg.
As you set up the rest of the posture and twist, maintain your two hips (and your front knee) on the floor, and continue to lengthen up through the entire length of your spine. Better to twist less with better alignment. Deeper twisting will come over time, as your hips open.
- Increases circulation to spinal nerves, discs, and tissues.
- Improves spinal elasticity and flexibility.
- Improves hip flexibility.
- Improves digestion and removes flatulence.
- Releases tension.
— Ellen Olson-Brown, The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford