straight up with a twist

mini yogi

No, this post isn’t about our favorite martini’s…instead we’re taking a healthier stance because we’ll all be enjoying so much fabulous food and wine over the next several days. We wanted to share some of our favorite yoga twists that you can add to the end of your work out routine. Twists have 5 main benefits that are particularly fitting for the holiday season:

1. Yoga twists can improve digestive function.

2. Practicing twists aids in detoxification of the body.

3. Including twists in your regular work out routine can help to maintain normal spinal rotation.

4. Practicing twists can help relieve back pain.

5. Lastly, twists can help us to deal with and relieve stress and anxiety.

It’s important when practicing twists to be gentle, you’ll want to ease into your twists…it’s always good to challenge your body, but don’t take it too far! Twists are easier to practice when your muscles are warm and your body has loosened up, so I like to add them towards the end of my work outs.

We will take you thought three different twists, offering you beginner, intermediate and advanced options.

Twist #1 – Wide Leg Twisted Forward Bend:

Beginner

 twisted forward bend

Stand with your legs wider than hip distance apart. If you are more advanced you can separate your legs as far apart as is comfortable. Take a long, deep inhale and on the exhale, slowly bend forward at the waist, turning your torso to the left. Reach your left hand to the ground and your right hand up to the sky. Gaze up towards your right hand. Breathe slowly and deeply. Remain in this position for 5 deep breaths. On an inhale, slowly untwist your torso and stand upright. On your next exhale, bring your twist to the other side.

Intermediate

bound twisted forward bend

This version of the wide leg twisted forward bend is more advanced. Similar to the first twist, you will stand with your feet wider than hip distance apart. Take a long, deep inhale and on the exhale, slowly bend forward at the waist, turning your torso to the left. Reach your left hand to the ground. Reach your right arm up and behind you, bend your elbow and place the palm of your hand to the inside of your left thigh. Gaze up toward the sky and take 5 slow, deep breaths. On an inhale, slowly release your right hand, untwist your torso and raise your torso back to standing. On your next exhale, begin the twist on the other side.

Advanced

bound twisted forward bend advanced

This final wide leg twisted forward bend is for those who practice twists regularly and are looking to challenge themselves. Same as the first two poses, stand with your feet wider than hip distance apart. Take a long, deep inhale and on the exhale, slowly bend forward at the waist, turning your torso to the left. Reach your left hand to the ground. Reach your right arm up and behind you, then bend your elbow and place the palm of your hand on your inner left thigh. Gaze up toward the sky.  Take an inhale and on your next exhale reach your left hand to the outside of your right foot. Remain here for 5 slow, deep breaths. On an inhale slowly release your left hand, then your right hand and raise your torso upright to standing. On your next exhale begin the twist on the other side.

Twist #2 – Easy Pose Twist & Half Lord of the Fishes:

Beginner

easy pose twist

Begin by Sitting with your legs crossed or in lotus or half lotus, facing forward. Sitting tall with shoulders relaxed, take a long, deep inhale. On the exhale, slowly twist your torso to the right, reaching your left arm across your right knee and your right arm behind you. Gaze over your right shoulder. Remain here for 5 slow, deep breaths. On an inhale untwist your torso and face forward. On your next exhale begin the twist on the other side.

Intermediate

half lord of the fishes

Begin in seated position. Bend your left knee and tuck your left heel just next to the right side of your bottom. Bend your right knee and bring your right foot over your left knee so that it touches the ground. Sitting tall with shoulders relax, take a long deep inhale. On an exhale, twist your torso to the right and bring your left elbow across your right knee so that your elbow is resting against the outside of your knee and your left hand is pointing up. Reach your right hand behind you and gaze over your right shoulder. Remain here for 5 slow, deep breaths. On an inhale, release your left elbow and untwist your torso. Set up for the other side and on an exhale begin twisting in the other direction.

Advanced

bound half lord of the fishes

This advanced twist is for those who practice twists on a regular basis and want to challenge themselves a bit more. Set up for this twist the same as the previous one. Sitting tall with shoulders relax, take a long deep inhale. On an exhale, twist your torso to the right. Bring your left elbow across your right knee and rotate your hand so that it is pointing down instead of up. Then reach your left hand under your right knee. Gaze over your right shoulder, reach your right arm behind your back and grab your left hand. Remain here for 5 slow, deep breaths. On an inhale, release your hands and untwist your torso. Set up for the other side. On an exhale begin the twist on the other side.

Twist #3 – Sage’s Pose:

Beginner/Intermediate

sage pose

Start in a seated position, sitting tall with both legs stretched out in front of you, your feet flexed and hands resting at your sides (otherwise known as staff pose). Bend your left knee and bring your left heel as close to your sit bones as possible. Take a deep inhale and on your exhale slowly twist your torso to the left. Bend your right elbow and rest it on the outside of your left knee with your hand pointing up. Reach your left hand behind you and gaze over your left shoulder. Remain here for 5 slow, deep breaths. On an inhale, slowly release your right elbow and untwist your torso. Start again in staff pose, take a deep breath and on your exhale begin the twist on the other side.

Advanced

 bound half spinal twist

Traditionally, bound sage’s pose has you wrapping your arm around the thigh and shin of your bent leg and not reaching through the bent leg, but in order to do this you need to be able to bring the foot of your bent leg all the way to your sit bones.  I’m still working on this, and on days when I’m not fully warmed up I modify the pose the way we have it pictured above. Same as the first sage’s pose, being in staff pose. Set up for the twist by bending your left knee and bringing your left heel as close to your sit bones as you can. Take a deep inhale and on your exhale slowly twist your torso left. Bend your right elbow and rest it against outside of your left knee. Rotate your right elbow so that your right hand is pointing down. Reach your right hand underneath your left knee. Gaze over your left shoulder and each your left arm behind, then clasp both hands together. Remain here for 5 slow, deep breaths. On an inhale release your hands and slowly untwist your torso. Start again in staff pose. Set up for the twist on the other side, then take a deep inhale and on your exhale begin the twist on the other side.

Here’s to staying healthy, happy and hopefully stress free this holiday season!

Namaste

jane-can-heart-logo.jpg

Ashley

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