2 Twisting Asanas for Mind-Body Tension Relief - dummies

2 Twisting Asanas for Mind-Body Tension Relief

By Therese Iknoian

Adding a twist or two into your mind-body sessions will provide tension relief. In Yoga, you can twist and shout all night long, but twists can be difficult for locked-up Western spines.

If you have any back problems, you should also consult with your doctor before trying twisting moves because they may place strain where it is not good for your back. As always, you should always listen to your body and go no farther than feels good.

Twisting Asana #1: Simple Seated Spinal Twist — Maricyasana

You may already do a version of this when you feel as if your back needs a little break. This stretches your spinal muscles, as well as opens your chest and strengthens abdominals, if you do it correctly. Try Simple Seated Spinal Twist during the posture-pacing or stretching sections of your mind-body workout.

  1. Sit on the floor, your body at a 90 degree angle. Legs should be out straight in front of you.

    If your hamstrings are tight, sit on a blanket to help you sit up tall.

  2. Slide your left foot up along your right leg toward your belly button, keeping the sole of that foot on the floor. Stop when you can’t move your foot any farther without slouching or straining. Try to keep your right leg straight.

    Relax your right knee slightly if that helps you sit taller.

  3. Hold your left knee to your chest with your right hand. Your left hand is palm down on the floor behind your left buttocks.

  4. Inhale and then exhale as you open your chest and twist your right side toward and even beyond your left knee. Try to lift your abdominal muscles as you open to that side. Turn your head gently, and look as far over your left shoulder as you can.

  5. Hold the posture and breathe. Release smoothly, sliding your left leg out to join the right.

  6. Repeat on the right side.

Variations include:

  • Office Spinal Twist: Do the same twist, but stay seated in a chair and hold onto the back of the chair or the arm — instead of your knee.

  • Intermediate Modification: Do the twist as instructed, but place your left foot over the top of your right knee so that the sole of your foot is on the floor on the outside of your right knee.

What to avoid in this mind-body pose:

  • Rounding your back and slouching

  • Twisting only with your head and not your torso and spine

Twisting Asana #2: Bent-Knee Twist on Your Back

This posture is a simple starter spinal twist while lying down. You stretch your hips, back, and spine, while you also open your chest and shoulders. Try Bent Knee Twist on Your Back during the stretching section of your mind-body workout.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, knees about hip-width apart.

  2. Place your arms out to your sides at shoulder-height, palms down.

  3. Inhale, then exhale and slowly lower your bent knees to your left. At the same time, turn your head and neck to look to the right. Lower your knees only as far as you can go without lifting either shoulder off the floor.

  4. You can either remain in the side-lying position for several breaths, or inhale and bring your back to the center position.

  5. Repeat to the right and several times on each side.

What to avoid in this mind-body pose:

  • Letting your ribs and chest pop open and up

  • Allowing your shoulders or head to come off the ground

  • Tensing your hands and arms