Twisting postures are an integral part of yoga practice. They help relieve tension in the back muscles and increase energy to the spinal column. According to "Yoga Journal," they are especially beneficial for circulation problems because twists encourage healing by improving circulation throughout the back. Incorporating twists into your yoga routine can also relieve other back maladies.
Gentle Seated Twist
The basic seated twist is a gentle pose designed to relieve tension in the spine. It also increases circulation and helps improve digestion. Sit up comfortably in a simple cross-legged position. Inhale and reach your right arm overhead, placing it on the floor behind you. Exhale and twist around to the right, looking over the right shoulder. Look only as far as is comfortable. Press your left hand against the back of the right knee to go a little deeper into the twist. You should be able to breathe deeply without discomfort. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes pose is a variation of the seated twist. It stretches the back, shoulders and hips, while energizing the spine. Sit upright on the mat with both legs stretched out in front of you. Step your right leg over your left, and bend the left leg under the right hip. Keep the right foot planted. This may feel a bit awkward at first. Inhale and raise the right arm up, then rest it on the floor behind you. Turn and look over your right shoulder. Press the left arm against the outside of the right knee for leverage. Breathe deeply. Hold for up to 30 seconds, then release and repeat on the opposite side.
Marichi's pose, also sometimes called Sage pose, is a more challenging seated twist. It is used therapeutically for fatigue, lower backache and sciatica. Sit upright on the mat with both legs stretched out in front of you. Bend the right knee and step the right foot over the left leg. Inhale and reach behind you, placing your right hand on the floor. Exhale and twist around to the right, looking over your right shoulder. As with Half Lord of the Fishes pose, place your left arm on the outside of the right knee for leverage. Breathe deeply and hold for up to 30 seconds. Release and repeat on the left side.
Twisting Warrior pose is a standing twisting posture that helps increase circulation throughout the body. Begin standing upright in a wide-legged position. Turn the right toes out. Bend the right knee and come into a lunge. However, do not allow your knee to go beyond your toes. Bring the hands together over the heart in a prayer position. Twist to the right, looking behind you, and rest the left elbow on the outside of the right knee. Hold for at least five deep breaths, then come back up to standing. Repeat on the left leg.
Lying Spinal Twist
Lying spinal twist is an excellent pose to practice at the end of a yoga session. It helps relieve stress that can build up in the back muscles. It increases circulation, yet is relaxing. Begin by lying flat on the mat. Bend both knees and bring them into the chest. Inhale and stretch both arms out to the sides. Exhale and drop both knees to the right side of the body, resting them on the floor. Turn and look over your left hand. Hold for several deep breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images