Twists are a great way to stimulate the internal organs and aid with digestion. During the holiday season, they are a must for your yoga practice. Here are some great ways to incorporate twists into both your time on the mat and your daily life.
Seated in a chair or cross-legged on the floor, make sure your spine is long. You should be able to feel your sits bones (the two boney protrusions) beneath you while seated. Inhale and lift up through the crown of your head, drawing in the belly. As you exhale slow, begin to twist to the right. As you exhale, you’ll make space in the belly for your torso to deepen. Repeat this method of inhaling for length and exhaling for depth in the twist. You can also use your left hand on your right knee or thigh to help gain leverage in the twist. Be sure to repeat on the other side!
HALF LORD OF FISHES
Start seated with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and place the sole of the foot on your mat with the knee bent towards the sky. Leave a fists width of distance between the left thigh and the right foot. Just like in our seated twist, find a long spine and sit up tall. Inhale as you find more length, the crown of the head lifting up towards the sky. Exhale and begin to twist to the right towards the bent knee. You can either hug the knee in towards the chest, or even hook the left elbow outside of the right knee. This placement of the elbow will give you the ability to twist even deeper.
TWISTED DOWN DOG
Start in a traditional downward dog. Broaden across the backs of the shoulders and press down into all ten fingers firmly. Draw in the belly, and send the heels down towards the floor (even if they don’t touch!). You may need to shorten the distance from your hands to your feet to find the twist, but explore your options first. Shift some of the weight into your left hand and get light in the right hand. You want to maintain the basic shape of the downward dog with your three limbs as you begin to lift the right hand from the floor. Reach the right hand back for the left shin or ankle, and twist your torso so it begins to peek underneath your left armpit. Pressing down firmly intot he left hand and staying strong in the legs will keep you stable in this balancing twist.
TIP: Know that when you enter into a twist you’ll never find the deepest point right away. Ease into the twist and continue the inhale/lengthen exhale/twist movements and in several breaths you’ll find that your ability to navigate the pose becomes a bit more accessible.