Let’s Do The Twist

With the festive season still fresh in our minds – and its effects clearly visible on (most of) our hips and tums – there really is no better time to consider a detox. The excellent news is that your yoga practice can help in this department thanks to simple twists which massage the abdominal organs, improve digestion and the function of the liver and kidneys, and move toxins out of the body.

Before you get twisting, here are four important guidelines to stick to:

  1. Keep your hips aligned
    It’s vital that your hip bones have symmetry and that your sit bones are grounded.
  2. Lengthen your spine
    Make sure that you can feel your spine lengthening as your sternum (or breastbone) lifts from your grounding.
  3. Work from the inside out
    Using the strength of your limbs to force the twist can lead to injury. Instead, use your torso muscles to start the movement from the inside. Every. Single. Time.
  4. Twist gently
    Use your arms (braced on your knees) or your hands (placed on the floor) to help you retain the height of your spine, keep your grounding and ensure your hip symmetry.

Got it? Let’s get started with a simple twist called Ardha Matsyendrasana.

Getting into position

  1. Fold your right leg into the pelvic floor and place your left leg over the top of your right thigh.
  2. Plant your left foot into the earth – push down as though you were standing – and ensure that your left knee is perpendicular to the ground. Don’t allow it to move to the right or left.
  3. Ensure that both your sit bones are on the ground and that your hips are in symmetry.
  4. Cradle your left knee with your right forearm or, if you’re more flexible, cross your right elbow over and grip your left big toe – this will increase the stretch into your shoulder. Do not to force this movement as the pressure can harm your elbow joint.

Deepening the asana

  1. As you inhale, allow the sternum to lift.
  2. Lengthen your spine without flaring your ribcage.
  3. As you exhale, allow the internal muscles of your torso to turn you to the
  4. left. Keep your spine erect – don’t collapse or allow your body to slump.
  5. Use your arms to either assist you in grounding your hips, or to lock you into the shape of
  6. the pose and hold you in place.
  7. Turn with the length of the exhale, then use the inhale to gain spinal length.
  8. Try to create a mild Bandha by gently drawing in your lower abdomen, without locking your diaphragm or flaring your ribcage.
  9. Allow your floating ribs to draw inwards, creating more space for your body to twist and deepen the pose.
  10. Take your gaze far over your left shoulder, adding drishti or gaze point to the movement.

Each time you twist, make sure that:

  • Your hips remain in a fixed position – moving them during the turn causes the pelvis to twist, which can lead to injury
  • You move gently
  • You move with the breath

Happy twisting!

To learn more about yoga asanas and their benefits then check out our upcoming 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training with Don in Feb 2017, at our School of Yoga.