These are an important series of Asanas for spinal health. Every Yoga session should include at least one Asana from this group, preferably after the forward and backward bending postures. The twist imposed on the spine and the whole trunk of the body exercises the muscles, makes the spinal column more flexible and stimulates the spinal nerves. It also has a strong influence on the abdominal muscles, alternately stretching and compressing them as the body twists from one direction to the other. Beginners need to be careful not to twist the trunk more than flexibility allows.
The twisting poses in Yoga are often said to be detoxifying. Sri B.K.S. Iyengar attributed this to the ‘squeeze and soak’ action. The organs of detoxification and elimination are compressed, pushing out old blood so that when we release the twist, fresh blood can flow in. This is widely accepted in the practice of Yoga, though there has been some healthy debate on the matter.
Maybe twists do not literally ‘wring out the internal organs’, but they do stimulate circulation; creating heat, releasing tension in the muscles of the spine, abdomen and ribcage which has a beneficial effect on the other systems of the body. Twists help to stimulate our organs, including the organs of elimination, which in turn can help stimulate our metabolism and rate of excretion.
Most of the twist poses can be categorized into standing, seated or reclining. They are often variations of the ‘regular’ poses, for example the Parivrtta Trikonasana [Twisted Triangle] , Parivrtta Janushirshasana [Spiraled Head to Knee Pose], etc.
With twists, alignment is very important so it’s essential to know how to do them correctly.
On the emotional and psychic levels, controlled twisting and untwisting represents a means of managing the knots and problems we encounter. These Asanas give insight and inspire a systematic approach to untying the tangled knots of life!
Some of the twists are to be avoided in the following cases, unless medically approved:-
-Spinal disc injury
-Chronic digestive issues
-Sacroiliac [SI] joint issues
Remember that twists are like a tonic for your spine, so practice them to experience the benefits firsthand!
See you next week with the benefits of the sideward bending poses. Until then, practice Yoga and stay centered!
Neelanjana Bharadwaj – Yoga Expert