Following the previous articles, this week we will address the twists.
The twists are known as Parivrtta Sthiti.
The spine, by its very form, has the ability to rotate about its own axis (axial rotation), allowing us to perform a set of varied movements.
However, nowadays, people is spending most of the day working in seated postures that are often incorrect and harmful for the whole body, creating many tensions, and eventually pain.
Due to a sedentary lifestyle, many areas of the body lose their tone and functionality atrophying from lack of use, the joints become stiffer, and the Spinal cord, our pillar starts to get stiff and compressed. Without flexibility.
The implementation of twists, integrated in a balanced asana practice, will allow to reverse these conditions, transforming the harmful postural habits and providing a completely different freedom of movements.
It is convenient to perform the twists after anteflexions, as it is necessary to create space in the joints involved, specifically in the spine, so we manage to adjust the body in a posture that we can properly twist, standing or sitting.
We can also do it after retroflections, or individually, to relieve back pain, but these cases should be done gently, at least in the beginning.
When you begin the practice of seated twists, and especially if you have back pain, you can start with the simplest twists, using for example a chair as an aid to the execution of the twist. Also for pregnant women.
If when you sit down to perform a twist, your lower back falls back (is convex) you must put up some support gear below the gluteus (eg one or more sheets of foam, one or more folded blankets) to gain access to lumbar area and manage to keep it even slightly concave.
You can also use a wall as a support for the hands, and also as reference to your body alignments. .
Twists Mechanical movement
The twists will involve the entire spine from the tailbone to the cervical vertebrae.
The twists can be performed from the standing postures, the sitting or lying postures.
According to that, may be performed:
Immobilizing the pelvis (hip) and twist the column with ascending spiral movement, using the shoulder girdle and the head. Or performed in an inverse way, pinning the shoulder girdle (shoulder) twisting it in a downward movement in the direction of the sacred area , using for this the rotation of the hips and legs.
On the twists and in general, we especially request the following parts of the body:
1 – hip joint and pelvic area – rotation of the trunk from its base will flex this joint (due to the different placement of the legs) helping to develop awareness of the stabilizing muscles of the basin. The pelvis is stimulated via its stretching or slight compression, depending on the type of twist performed, improving circulatory and lymphatic drainage of the organs located there.
2 – Back – on the twists, lateral rotation of the column increases its mobility and blood supply to this area. The rotation of the vertebrae in a spiral movement upwards or downwards relieves the pressure between them, and any pain or pressure that may exist.
3 – Neck, shoulders – it is important to mobilize the inner edge of the shoulder blades towards the spine, so that the chest (sternum) does not sink reducing the perimeter of the chest cavity and therefore the scope for lungs expansion. The spiral rotation of the spine and maintaining the chest opening, will allow to create freedom to the neck – which extends and retains its natural curvature. This postural placement, serves to correct and counter the posture of convex backs (kyphosis), and collapse of the chest, which can be seen today in many people.
The twists are effective in relieving back and head pain (and stiffness in the neck and shoulders)
Flexibilize whole spine and increase the mobility of the hip joint.
Due to its complexity of physical actions, also contribute to easing the entire shoulder girdle (shoulder), joints of the upper limbs, pelvic girdle and lower limb joints.
At an organic level, will activate and exercise the kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas, stomach and intestines.
By acting in the middle area of the body, improve your digestion and eliminate laziness.
1 – You must not perform twists after a recent operation to the abdominal area.
2 – If you have a hernia in the lumbar, dorsal and cervical spine, you should see your doctor and have the supervision of an experienced yoga teacher.
3 – In case of stomach or abdominal problems.
4 – During pregnancy, you can perform Bharadvajasana or twists with the aid of a chair, and the supervision of an experienced teacher.
5 – If you do not have experience, you should avoid forcing the final phase of the twists, for several reasons:
The different areas of the back (sacred, lumbar, dorsal and cervical) have different degrees of movement. What usually occurs to begginer practitioners when performing twists, is that the most rigid regions (sacred and dorsal) stay immovable and the whole movement is done by the most flexible areas. This under-utilization pattern on one side, and over-utilization by the other side, causes tensions that can lead to injury, if you push in the final stage.
Another situation that can occur, is the collapse of the lumbar area, misalignment of the hips, and compression of the thorax and diaphragm.
Obstacles and Notes
On the twists, all parts of the trunk can contribute to the twist, as well as the different muscle layers .
Leaving in collapse (convex) the lower back, will endanger the stability of the lumbar vertebrae and intervertebral discs, and consequently tends to lock the thoracic spine in its position, inhibiting axial rotation at that point.
If the blades are “loose”, we have the impression that we are turning a lot, but in reality is not the spine swirling, but the shoulder blades.
Use of the arms
The use of arms to deepen the twists must be done in a gradual way and not with excessive force, to help stabilize and not to mobilize the spine, which could endanger the most vulnerable parts of the spine (especially the vertebrae T 11 and T 12).
Breathing in the twists
Tries to keep control of the waistband and the diaphragm without tension, while maintaining deep and conscious breathing on thoracic area. Consciously use the intercostal muscles to open and close the chest during inspiration and expiration, thus enhancing the action of relaxation in the thoracic spine and its rotary movement.
Once the spine is intimately linked to the nervous system (therefore, all the trunk structures protect the spine: the bowl, the whole chest, shoulder blades), it is important to maintain healthy spine not only to prevent the degeneration of the vertebrae, but also to prevent any damage to the nerves surrounding the column.
And also that prana can circulate freely in the spine because Sushumna Nadi is located within the spine and is where the Kundalini rises after waking.