Focus on Asanas – November: Twists

As we get closer to the holiday season, we’ll turn our focus to the poses that provide the best therapeutic support to the digestive system – twists.  We’ll begin today with a preparatory pose – simple seated twist. This pose will help you prepare the back and the torso for the twist work we’ll be studying this month. It’s recommended to begin any intensive twist practice with this pose. To offer some variety to the pose, as well as help you deepen it over the course of practice, I’ve included some options to explore. Let’s begin.

Doing the Basic Pose:

1. Sit on the floor, your mat, or a stack of 1-3 blankets in simple cross legs. (If you are an Iyengar student, you will note that this is often the way we sit for the chant to begin class.)

2. Place your hands on the floor (or blanket/mat) next to your hips, elbows slightly bent.

3. Check that your knees are even with one another. Roll the tailbone down and draw the chest up.

4. On an exhalation, bring your left hand to your right thigh, and your right hand to the floor/blanket/mat just behind your right buttock. Slowly twist your torso so that your chest faces to the right.

5. Breathe normally. As you stay in the pose a few moments, try to deepen the twist. This will become easier on your second turn.

6. Release, bringing your chest and torso back to center, releasing the arms.

7. Repeat on the left side.

Things to Be Mindful of While in the Pose:

1. Make sure the opposite knee and buttocks stay level with the one on the twisted side.

2. Keep your shoulder blades down and your chest open.

3. Make sure the shoulder on the twist side doesn’t pop up. If it does, try grabbing the blanket edge and pulling down.

4. Try to make the twist in all parts of your torso -from your abdomen to your shoulders.

Variation 1 – Wall:

1.  Start with your right hip touching the wall, sitting on a mat or two or three blankets.

2. Use the same instructions as above, however, instead of using your thigh and the floor for traction/support, use the wall thusly:

3. Twist to face the wall and place your hands on the wall shoulder width apart, elbows bent.

4. Use your hands to push the wall away without pushing your body back. This will help you to move your shoulderblades down the back, level the torso and deepen the pose.

Variation 2 – In a Chair:

1.  Any straight-backed chair without arms will work – just grab one from your kitchen or dining room table.

2. Sit on the chair with your body perpendicular to the chair back, right thigh closest to the chair back, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart.

3. Twist to the right and place your hands on either end of the chair back.

4. Push with your left hand and and pull with your right. This will give you a deeper pose than simply sitting on the floor.

5. Repeat on the other side, moving the legs to the other side of the chair.

Wednesday, we’ll continue with twists. Please feel free to ask questions if you’d like further explanations on any of the poses we share