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How to Do Reclining Yoga Twist Postures

Reclining twist postures call for you to lie down — with a (literal) twist. In these Yogic twists, you harvest all kinds of benefits, including a delicious feeling of release in your spine.

Bent leg supine twist

The bent supine twist is a variation of the classic posture known as parivartanasana. The Sanskrit word parivartana (pronounced pah-ree-vahr-tah-nah) means “turning.”

This posture has a calming effect on the lower back. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor at hip width and extend your arms out from your sides like a T (in line with the top of your shoulders) with your palms down.

  2. As you exhale, slowly lower your bent legs to the right side while turning your head to the left.

    Keep your head on the floor.

    image0.jpg
  3. As you inhale, bring your bent knees back to the middle.

  4. As you exhale, slowly lower your bent knees to the left while turning your head to the right.

  5. Repeat Steps 1 through 4, alternating three times slowly on each side, and then hold one last twist on each side for 6 to 8 breaths.

The Swiss army knife

This posture, a variation of the classic jathara parivritti, tones the abdominal organs and intestines and stretches the lower back and hips. Jathara parivritti (pronounced jat-hah-rah pah-ree-vree-tee) means “belly twisting.” Just follow these steps:

  1. Lie flat on the floor with your legs straight down and extend your arms out from your sides like a T (in line with the top of your shoulders) with your palms up.

  2. Bend your right knee and draw your thigh into your abdomen.

  3. As you exhale, slowly lower your bent right leg to the left side and extend it out a comfortable distance.

  4. Extend your left arm on the floor along the left side of your head (palm up), and then turn your head to the right.

    Keep your head on the floor and try to visualize lines of energy going out through your arms and legs.

  5. Follow Steps 1 through 4 and then relax and stay in Step 4 for 6 to 8 breaths.

  6. Repeat Steps 1 through 5 on the opposite side.

    image1.jpg

Extended legs supine twist: Jathara parivritti

If you enjoy practicing the Swiss army knife, you’re likely to enjoy this slightly more demanding exercise. This variation of jathara parivritti gives you the same benefits as the Swiss army knife but creates an even more pronounced stretch of the lower back and hips. And, of course, stretching is good for your muscles and your spine. The following steps show you how it works:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor at hip width and extend your arms out from your sides like a T in line with the top of your shoulders with palms down.

  2. Bend your knees and draw both your thighs into your abdomen.

  3. As you exhale, slowly lower your bent legs to the right side.

  4. Extend both legs out a comfortable distance and then turn your head to the left.

    Keep your head on the floor. If this posture is difficult, try bending both legs a little more.

    image2.jpg
  5. Follow Steps 1 through 4 and then relax and stay in Step 4 for 6 to 8 breaths.

  6. Repeat Steps 1 through 5 on the opposite side.

Note: In the classic (traditionally taught) version of this posture, the knees are straight and the joined legs are resting on the floor. The arms are straight and extended to the sides at right angles to the torso. The hand on the same side of the extended legs holds the top foot.

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