5 Top Twists

Yoga Pose - Lunge Twist

5 Top Twists

January is finally here! Are you in need of a detox? Feeling the cold and want to get warm? Give my five favourite twists a go and feel the benefits…

There are many benefits for carrying out twists within Yoga, including:

  1. When holding a twist it gives a massaging affect on the internal organs, which helps to improve digestive functions.

  2. They help to detoxify the body because when you twist you cut off blood supply to your digestive organs, and then when you release your twist it re-introduces fresh blood to your abdominal organs which helps to cleanse the cells.

  3. Twists help to stretch and strengthen the back which can prevent back pain, particularly if you sit down for long periods of time or hunch over a desk all day.

  4. The blood travels to the head when you are twisting which gives you a lovely warming effect – perfect for these long cold January days!

The following twists are some of my favourite,s which you can do on their own or incorporate them into a sequence, such as introducing them into your Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar A).

 

Twist 1 – Revolved Lunge Pose (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana)

image

  1.  Stand in Mountain Pose at the front of your mat.
  2. Fold forward, placing both hands on the mat.
  3. Step back with your left leg, keeping your right leg forwards into a lunge position.
  4. Bringing the torso up, bring your palms together at heart center.
  5. Take a deep inhalation, as you begin to exhale, twist towards your rightleg. With your palms still together, place your left tricep on your right thigh, attempting to get your torso as close to your leg as possible.
  6. VARITATION: Stay here, or extend your left fingertips down to the ground on the outside of your right leg, and reach your right fingertips up the ceiling.
  7. Stay here for up to 1 minute. To exit the pose, unwind and place your hands down on the mat, then step back to Downward Facing Dog Pose. Repeat with the left leg forwards.

Twist 2 – Revolved standing wide legged forward fold

(Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana)

image[1]

1. Start in Mountain Pose at the front of your mat. On an inhale, step your right foot towards the back of your mat so your body is facing the long edge of your mat.
2. Place your hands on your hips.
3. Push your hands down into your hips. As you inhale lengthen your heart and chest skywards to create length in your torso. As you exhale, slowly dive forward towards the mat, bending at the hips, bringing your fingertips to touch the mat in front of your face.
4. As you lengthen the crown of your head down to the ground, push your sitting bones upwards towards the ceiling. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged as you lengthen out your spine.
5. Now twist towards the left hand side, taking the right hand towards the left calf.

6. VARITATION:  Lift your left hand towards the sky, or wrap it around around your waist, touching the right thigh.
7. Stay here for up to 1 minute. To exit the pose, slowly undo the twist and place both hands on the mat. Place the hands ack on the hips and come up half way taking the gae forwards. When you feel ready, lift the rest of the way up so you are now fully upright.

8. Turn the feet to face forwards again and step forwards to Mountain Pose.

 

Twist 3 – Triangle (Trikonasana)

image[2]

  1. Stand at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose. Take a big step back with your right foot, place the heel on the floor so the foot is turned out about 45degrees.  Turn the body to face the long edge of you mat. Your two hip points should be facing the long side of the mat.
  2. Inhale as you take your arms out in a “T” with your palms pointing down.  You shoulders are relaxed while moving your shoulder blades down your back.
  3. Exhale as you begin to hinge at your hip towards your left leg, deepening the crease where your hip bone meets your pelvis.
  4. Allow your left hand to float towards your shin, a block on the inside of the foot, a block on the outside of the foot, or your fingers/palm on the mat or big toe.
  5. Your right arm will float up towards the sky, keeping the arms in a “T”. Which ever hand position you choose for your bottom hand, ensure you keep your spine and torso long, without creating a bend in the waist.
  6. Draw your low belly in to support the lower spine.
  7. Tuck your chin in slightly, lengthening the top of the neck near the skull, and turn your gaze up towards your right hand.
  8. Keep your connection with the earth, especially grounding with the outside of your back foot, and all four corners of your front foot.
  9. Breathe comfortably as you hold the position.
  10. To exit the pose, on an exhale look down towards your left foot, draw your low belly in, root down through the feet, and inhale as you rise up.
  11. Turn and step back to the top of the mat and repeat on the opposite side.

Twist 4 – Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)

image[3]

  1. Start from Mountain pose.
  2. Align your feet to parallel with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart, bend deep into your knees, and lift your arms up above your head.
  3. Take your hands in front of your chest in anjali (prayer) mudra.
  4. Without moving your hips or knees, twist from your shoulders to the right.
  5. Place your left elbow on your right knee and spin your chest out to the right.
  6. Press both hands in to each other for more stability.
  7. Look down, if one of your knees is ahead of the other, pull that corresponding leg back into your hip socket. Otherwise, your knees should be just above your ankles.
  8. Take a deep inhale, look beyond the tips of your fingers, or look up. VARIATION: You can stay here, or place the left hand on the mat and take the right hand to the sky.
  9. Hold and breathe.
  10. To exit, exhale out of the twist and inhale out of chair. Repeat on the other side.

Twist 5 – Thread the needle pose (Parsva Balasana)

image[4]

  1. Begin in a neutral tabletop position with your hands and knees on your mat.
  2. Adjust your knees to hip-width distance if necessary.
  3. In this position, raise the right arm up to shoulder height.
  4. Bring the right arm through the gap between the left hand and left hip.
  5. Place the whole length of the right arm on the mat and place the right ear on the mat if possible.
  6. Turn your chest and gaze toward your left shoulder.
  7. VARIATION: With the left arm, you can either stretch it out in front of you, your can place it on top of the right hand or you can wrap it around your waist taking hold of the right thigh.
  8. Hold and breathe as any tension in your shoulder releases naturally.
  9. To exit, use your right hand to push yourself back to a neutral tabletop. Repeat on the opposite side.

 

Give these twists a try and see if you notice any of the benefits mentioned above.

Let me know which is your favourite via:

Twitter (@YogaLorna)

Instagram (@Lo_Yoga)

Facebook (LoYoga).

xx