There are many ways to do twisting postures; in lunges, standing, seated, and laying down. The supine or reclining twists tend to be a little safer for people because of the support from the floor. A few of the more common twists are shown below.
In this first version is called supta matsyandrasana or reclining lord of the fishes or simply knee down twist. The participant lays on the floor with one knee bent to start. An option is to give the twist a ‘head start’ by picking the hips up and placing them a couple of inches to the side you are twisting away from. Take the bent knee over to the opposite side. The arms can either extend in a T position along the floor or you can extend one and place the hand of the other over the knee to add a little weight which makes the twist a little deeper. The head can look straight up at the ceiling or you can look in the opposite direction to twist through the cervical spine in the neck as well. Only twist as far as feels comfortable. If letting the knee hang in the air is too much a bolster or block (or pillow- whatever is available) can be placed under the thigh or knee to add another level of support.
A deeper version is to take both knees to the side. You can come up onto the hip that you are twisting toward in this version or go to wherever is comfortable for you and your spine. The knees can drop to the floor as can the feet. To get a little work in the obliques on the sides of the abdominal wall you can drop the knees but leave the heels up. Looking away from the twist is always optional.
A third option for this pose is to take the legs in garudasana or eagle position. The upper body stays the same as the previous versions but the legs twist around each other. The top leg will wrap under the bottom leg in this version. The extra weight of the leg makes this a deeper version of the previous ones.
Whichever reclining twist you decide on, make sure that you are using compassion for yourself. Only go to the point that feels comfortable. These twists are not meant to be hard work, they should feel good. You should have no pain in your back, spine or anywhere else. Breath deeply allowing the the abdomen to expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale. Allow the upper body to fully relax and feel heavy.
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Tagged asana, fish pose, fitness, health, knee down twist, lord of the fishes, matsyandrasana, matsyendrasana, reclining poses, reclining postures, twisting poses, twisting postures, yoga, yoga asana
Yoga Asana (poses) always have benefits beyond the typical ‘get flexible or strong’. Today I’m going to share some of the benefits of twisting poses. There are a wide variety of twisting poses that can be done – some extreme, some gentle – and as with all poses you need to do what is right for you body on any given day. There are days that I feel like I can twist my spine like wringing out a cloth; other days I’m stiff and feel like I can barely move. I adjust accordingly and move into these poses slowly. By never assuming I can do today what I could yesterday and paying attention to this moment I am honouring where I am. But I digress….twisting…
The major benefits of twisting are:
- Improve digestion: Any time you compress an organ, as you do in twisting postures, you essentially cut off some of the blood supply. When you release a fresh influx of blood comes through and with it fresh oxygen. Fresh oxygen means more healing and better function of these important digestive organs.
- Detox: Because of the fresh oxygen you cleanse your system. The fresh blood helps our bodies get rid of waste and impurities that have built up.
- Spinal Rotation: You are as young as your spine is flexible. Keeping the spine and muscles and tissues supporting the spine supple helps decrease pain in the back and pelvis and increases range of motion. Why do you want to do this? Because the lack of range affects so many aspects of our lives and living with pain as so many do decreases the quality of life we experience. We do so much sitting in our lives these days whether at work, in the car, on the couch… twisting helps to relieve the back pain that we experience through so much sitting. Plus- want to be able to tie your own shoes or look up when you see a plane forever? Twist!
- De-stress: Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling stressed you tend to slump forward through the shoulders and let your low back round (while seated!). Twisting opens up the chest and shoulders and extends the spine long. Any time you open your heart and shoulders you reduce stress. You also tend to breath more freely and calmly (really during any yoga asana practice) and that tremendously helps you to reduce the levels of stress hormones. You can read a bit more about that in this post.
I’ll review some of the common twisting poses next week with details on how to do them and how to modify them. In the meantime, have a twist-tacular weekend :)