Yogis enjoy twisting! There are an infinite amount of twists whether lying, seated, standing, or even upside down. Any position in which the shoulder girdle is twisted to face in the opposite direction as the hips are referred to as a “twist”. They have a special position in yoga for a variety of reasons. Twists have the greatest effect on our axis, repairing and preserving the range of motion in or around the spine. A thorough exhale before entering the posture will assist generate a feeling of attachment with what sustains the body. This grounding will enable you to make room in your body, mind, and nerve system. Take a big breath in and allow your body to extend on your yoga mat. With the next exhale, start rotating. Let’s jump in to understand the benefits of twists in yoga and also get to know about a few basic twists in yoga.
8 Benefits of Twists in Yoga
Twists have several advantages in yoga. You undoubtedly do a twist of some kind in practically every class you attend, but you probably have no idea.
- Back Health and Spine Mobility
The sedentary lifestyle we adopt these days endangers our spines. Slouching and slumping at work and behind the wheel, sitting for lengthy periods in seats with inadequate back support, and hunching over smartphones sound familiar? Yes, of course, it does! Daily, the majority of us commit these postural offences. These little behaviours can add up over time, resulting in decreased mobility, discomfort, and even severe back pain. Not only will our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia (connective tissue) progressively shorten and stiffen over time if we don’t make the most of our natural range of motion, but we also face the danger of our joints hardening and fusing. In the case of the spine, the restricted mobility this results in can have an impact on the hips, abdomen, and ribcage, causing dysfunction that goes well beyond the axis we are most used to.
Twists support maintaining the flexibility of the spinal muscles as well as the length and resiliency of the soft tissues that surround the spine. This maintains the health and happiness of the discs and joints. Twists can also bring about sweet relief from back discomfort by extending and strengthening the back muscles.
- Detoxes and Rejuvenates the Digestive System
Twists have a significant influence on your front body in addition to all the good advantages for your back body. Twisting helps to evacuate trapped gas and relieves stress in the abdominal muscles. It also promotes the movement of the gastrointestinal system and the elimination organs. By causing intra-abdominal compression, twists also promote the best possible digestion. The digestive system receives new blood flow that is oxygenated and nutrient-rich when a twist is released.
- Release Stuck Energy
Have you noticed how twisting both energizes and relaxes you? The physiological action of twisting has an interesting knock-on effect on the psyche. Twists protect spinal nerve health by providing intervertebral gaps and relaxation in the spine, allowing the nervous system to work more efficiently. A lack of room between the vertebrae causes what we term a slump; energy becomes blocked and tension develops, resulting in a sense of lethargy. Lengthening the spine not only makes room for the vertebrae but also allows energy to flow more easily, giving you an instant boost. Furthermore, twists help to open up the shoulders and chest, two regions of the body that are prone to tension. Twisting greatly relieves tension that has built up in these places, which helps to reduce the accompanying anxiety. Twists and steady, regular breathing together have a deeper calming effect on the nervous system, calming even the most stressed body and mind.
- Improves Digestion
Twists reach deep inside the body, activating the abdominal organs. The digestive system often called the enteric nervous system or the second brain,’ is one of the most essential organs that benefit from twisting. Twists increase nutrient uptake and dispersion throughout the body.
- Relieves Constipation
When the digestive tract is kept regular, it is at its best. Constipation might make you feel tired and bloated. Twists stimulate the digestive tract and gently compress it to keep things flowing. Rotate to the right first to activate the ascending colon, then to the left to activate the descending colon when doing twists.
- Improves Metabolism
The pace during which your body processes stuff to produce energy is referred to as the metabolism. Twists increase metabolism by promoting proper digestion. The metabolism also works best in a stress-free environment; twists help to relieve physical and mental tension in the muscles by activating the parasympathetic.
- Improves the Immune System
A strong immune system begins in the stomach. Given that the stomach produces 80% of our immune system, twists are a highly effective instrument for a robust immune system. Twists not only excite the digestive system, but also the circulatory, neurological, and endocrine systems, all of which play a significant role in immune system development.
- Improves Circulation
Good circulation distributes oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. One of the biggest causes of poor circulation is sitting behind a desk all day. Yoga, particularly twists, improves circulation while also providing a healthy shine to your face after practice!
- Improves Energy Levels
The increased circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain provides you with a burst of energy. They also stimulate the inner prana (life energy) and promote energy flow throughout your entire body.
- Eases Stress and Anxiety
A healthy gut is closely related to your emotions and mental well-being. Stress causes gut problems, and gut problems cause stress. Because the intestine produces 95 percent of serotonin (the happy hormone), twisting the stomach releases these happy chemicals into the system.
- Restores Nervous System Balance
In our hectic lifestyles, the nervous system (fight or flight) is constantly on alert. Sometimes we need to ‘fight or flight,’ but most of the time it’s due to our brain being overwhelmed, which causes us to make rash judgments. Starting to slow down and taking deep breaths while twisting rewires the brain to halt before reacting, activating the parasympathetic system (rest & digest).
7 Twists in Yoga
- Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana or Revolved Half-Moon Pose: Try a revolved half-moon pose if you want to give your yoga routine a fresh spin. This difficult position develops the glutes and quadriceps while stretching the sides of the body. Additionally, it expands the chest and activates the chakras. It takes a skilled yoga instructor and good body alignment. Proper alignment ensures that the postures are executed correctly and that you get the greatest benefit from them. Proper alignment entails taking it slowly and aligning your sight. Always begin and conclude your practice with a comprehensive consultation with your doctor to avoid injury. Once you’ve mastered the revolved half-moon pose, you can move on to further postures.
- Sucirandhrasana or Eye of the Needle: Sucirandhrasana, or “eye of the needle position” in Sanskrit, is a mild hip stretch that is simple for novices to perform. The yogi crosses his or her ankle across the thigh of the opponent while reclining. Then, to extend the hip, he or she drags the shin towards the chest. As a substitute for the pigeon position, it is frequently used. This position stretches the hamstring at the backside of the thighs, the lower spine, and the muscles surrounding the hips. Long periods of sitting can lead to tight hip flexors, whereas athletes who play sports that require a lot of movement frequently have tight hamstrings. By keeping them flexible, you’ll be able to move with greater posture and flexibility. Additionally, this position helps you become ready for backbends and sitting poses. If you have any shoulder, neck, knee, back, or hip issues, stay away from this position. Pregnant women should refrain from positions when they are lying flat on their back after the first trimester. Additionally, the knee should not be under any strain. Although there will be a significant stretch over the front of the hip, it shouldn’t hurt. You should leave the stance if you experience any pain. You might wish to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare professional if this discomfort doesn’t go away.
- Supta Matsyendrasana or Supine Spinal Twist: A beginner’s reclining twist is known as the supine spinal twist position, or supta matsyendrasana in Sanskrit. The yogi lowers his or her right knee to the left while lying on their back. The left-hand places a little pressure on the knee as the right shoulder stretches to the right. After that, the position is repeated on the opposite side. Beginners will benefit much from this twist because it is so basic and easy to understand. The Supine Spinal Twist is a warm-up position that gets the body ready for more difficult backbends. It’s a great posture to use as a cool-down after challenging exercises. It works well for relieving stomach issues and back discomfort. In addition to toning the stomach, it’s a great treatment for postpartum women with lower back pain. Men, women, children, and elders may all execute it. This is a great stance for athletes and runners to cool down following a run. The Supine Spinal Twist may be used to build core strength and as part of a night yoga routine to alleviate insomnia and sleeping problems.
- Jathara Parivartanasana or Revolved Belly Pose: Abdomen or belly are referred to as Jathara, “revolved or twisted” is referred to as Parivartan, and “posture” is referred to as Asana. In the supine pose known as Jathara Parivartanasana, the abdomen is twisted while you are laying on your back. This twist is accomplished by twisting the neck and spine to the opposite side while keeping the bowed legs to one side on the floor. Jathara parivartanasana is created by the consequent abdominal wringing. It increases serotonin levels, the body’s feel-good hormone, in addition to toning the back and abdominal. Since the spine is assumed in this position while lying down, it also develops the back muscles and enhances posture. By bending the legs and lowering stacked legs in the opposite direction as the twist, the abdomen in the reclining stance is twisted to retain this position. As a result, it is also known as the Belly Twist Pose or Revolved Abdomen Twist Pose in English. Indulge in Jathara parivartanasana to allow the body’s toxins to leave the body and calm yourself. Use this twisted position to expose your abdominal muscles and start your day off feeling energized, confident, and refreshed.
- Kaitichakrasana or Standing Spinal Twist: In the standing spinal-twisting posture known as Katichakrasana, the trunk is free to revolve both clockwise and counterclockwise. It improves mobility, suppleness, and flexibility while also treating tight backs and hips. It is a straightforward yet effective method that has several advantages. However, practitioners can do it both before and after a strenuous asana as a warm-up practice to help their bodies relax. Due to its potent method of treating stiffness and tiredness brought on by excessive use of the trunk, neck, and shoulder muscles, this pose can also be scheduled as “classroom yoga” or “office yoga.” Indulge in Jathara parivartanasana to allow the body’s toxins to leave the body and calm yourself. Use this twisted position to expose your abdominal muscles and start your day off feeling energized, confident, and refreshed.
- Parvrtta Trikonasana or Revolved Triangle Pose: Revolved Triangle position, also known as Parivrtta Trikonasana, combines a standing forward bend with a spinal twist. This ideal mix aids in increasing the body’s stability while extending the entire body. If you do it frequently, you may build a solid feeling of both physical and mental balance. This position, a somewhat difficult form of Trikonasana, strengthens your hips, back, shoulders, and legs. In other words, it might be advantageous for your complete body. But there’s a problem. Beginners or those with no prior experience with yoga should avoid this yoga. Therefore, it is advised that you first understand the fundamentals of yoga and then practice it under supervision if you want to start doing Revolved Triangle in your at-home exercises. Revolved Triangle yoga is the finest because, after you’ve learned it, you may practice it frequently to increase flexibility and mobility. So, begin using it as soon as you can. It is very suggested that you learn the technique from an experienced yoga trainer if you are a novice. You may also enroll in online yoga lessons for this provided by certified yoga instructors. Along with Parivrtta Trikonasana and other deeply twisted postures, they can aid in setting up a thorough yoga session.
- Namaskara Parsvakonasana or Prayer Twist: The difficult standing twist known as “prayer twist,” or “namaskar parsvakonasana” in Sanskrit, is a version of the “revolved side angle” position. Instead of the top hand reaching toward the sky and the bottom hand on the ground, the palms are pressed together as the bottom arm acts as a lever on the thigh. The position increases flexibility and strength. In this asana, the torso is extended over the front thigh and twisted so that the opposite elbow crosses over the front knee. The legs are in a high lunge posture. The gaze may be to the side or upward as the hands are in the pose of prayer in front of the chest. Prayer twist is a typical English name for Namaskar Parsvakonasana.
Is it risky to do yoga twists?
Twisting through yoga poses has no harm. Though there are myths connecting twists to the reason for lower back pain in some, we would like to call it off. Twists are known to improve spinal health in a major way. However, if you are someone who has spinal issues, or neck and shoulder-related injuries, then we would recommend you consult the doctor before experimenting with new poses on your body.
What happens when we twist our bodies?
Twisting positions assist correct the spinal column’s connection with the pelvis and the shoulder girdle. Your right shoulder blade slides toward the spine with each right body rotation as the muscles holding it to the ribcage and spine are tightened. Prayer twist is a typical English name for Namaskar Parsvakonasana. Twisting is not often a part of the motions we do on a typical day. Twists can help to reestablish a healthy range of motion that has been restricted by a sedentary lifestyle, an accident, a degenerative disease, or imbalances brought on by every day or sport.
What is the best way to practice twists safely?
As with anything in yoga, the beginning point for safely and successfully doing twists is the breath.
Start with a neutral spine to begin any twisting position. Lengthen your body from the hips to the top of your head as you inhale. Keep your hips neutral as you begin to exhale and initiate the rotation from your lumbar spine. Pass a vertebra through the top of the skull one at a time, evenly. Continue to breathe while you maintain the posture and feel the muscles start to soften. Check to see if you can twist even further. Take a deep breath in and stretch your torso a bit. Deepen your twist as you exhale.
It’s all too easy to dismiss the value of spine mobility until dysfunction, discomfort, and pain appear to serve as a harsh reminder. Don’t put off till tomorrow what these simple twists can do for you, from assisting digestion to energizing the body and soul. Slowly try to stretch and twist to experience the benefits all by yourself. If you are someone with spine-related issues then we recommend you consult the doctor before you start with anything new.