The twist effect


We have previously explored the cleansing effect of twists and twisting from the midline out. Twists massage the organs of the body – stimulating good digestion, removing toxins through the liver and kidneys, supporting the immune system, and relieving stress and tension. But what do the rotational muscles of the core need to do to facilitate these benefits?

Twists stretch and strengthen the full circumference of the core and the spinal muscles. When we are twisting, we naturally notice the stretch effect in the side body, on the opposite side we are twisting to. In a twist, to every stretch effect there is a strengthen effect. The muscles on the side we are twisting to contract to facilitate this stretch. The next time you take a twist in your practice, try consciously contracting these muscles, and notice how they help you to twist a little further, and find a little more stretch, on the opposing side.

Aided twists, which use the help of an elbow pressing against a knee or a hand pressing into the ground, help to get a deeper stretching twist, but don’t work quite as much into the strengthening element of the twist. Unaided twists, which are twists that work without an anchor to facilitate your twist, may not feel as satisfyingly deep a twist, but are working the stretching and strengthening muscles equally. When you come to practice Parivrtta Utkatasana/Revolved Chair and Parivrtta Ashta Chandrasana/Revolved Eight Cresent Moon in the above sequence, try hovering your elbow above the knee to activate these deep twisting muscles.

In your seated twists explore both sit bones grounded and then allowing the opposing sit bone to lift slightly, and notice how it affects your twist. When twisting to the right, and the sit bones are grounded, you will feel a stretch coming from the base of the spine and a strong stretch in the outer left hip. When you allow the left sit bone to lift slightly, and the hips to follow the twist, it gives you a false sense of a deeper twist, but it helps you to take the spinal twist more comfortably if you have tight hips or any sacroiliac issues.

Print out the above sequence, and explore the strengthening sensations in the side you are twisting to. Click this link to get a full list of twists.

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Ruth Delahunty Yogaru