Twists are among the poses that do connect to every day activities: just think of backing off from a parking spot, for example. But other then prompting us for such activities, what else have twists to contribute to the health and wellbeing of the yoga practitioner?
- Helps increase the flexibility of the back, making it less prone to injury.
- Alleviates tension in the back muscles, due to the stretching that occurring with the twisting action.
- Twists relieve tension in the back muscles that may built up with intense backhanding.
- Contributes to good posture through reinforcing the habit of keeping the shoulders down.
- Encourages opening the chest and broadening the collarbones, to correct stooped positions.
- Stretches the chest muscles.
- Tones the abdominal muscles through requiring them to engage in order to prevent lumbar spine injury.
- Drawing the shoulder blades away form the head and flattening them against the back, strengthens the upper back muscles and helps correcting winged scapulae.
- Counteracts the excessive rounding of the upper back resulting from poor posture and poor muscle tone.
- Stretches the neck muscles.
- Contribute to spinal flexibility.
- Energetically balances the kidney and adrenal glands.
- Facilitates intestinal peristalsis.
- Facilitates liver and gallbladder detox.
Relationship to Other Poses and Techniques
Ujjay Breathing: seated twists facilitate the practice of Ujjay because it builds on the natural narrowing of throat as it occurs with turning the head to the side.
Downward-Facing Dog: complements twisting through restoring a neutral back position. Down Dog relaxes lower back muscles through gentle stretching, while twists engage those muscles.
Upward-Facing Bow: added to Cobra, twists are good preparatory poses for the more challenging Upward-Facing Bow because it warms up the spine and back muscles. It also teaches the habit of lengthening the lower spine throughout the pose to avoid jamming the lumbar vertebrae during back bending.
Cobra: Twists and Cobra complement each other. Twists add another important component to the development of spine flexibility, that of twisting through the spine – a nice addition to the ability to backbend.