Twist It Up
Have you ever intentionally twisted your spine and felt an overwhelming state of physical pleasure overcome your body? Kind of sounds like an orgasm, right? Well, it may not be as dramatic, but it sure does feel great. When sitting or standing in an upright forward facing position all day the body becomes tight and tired. The body craves extension and rotation in order to counterbalance this static one-dimensional movement. Twisting is the easiest way for your entire spine and all of the surrounding facia, which are the fibers that make up muscles, to instantly get stretched and stimulated. I call this the ultimate "awe" feeling. Twisting keeps your spine and muscles healthy and mobil by exercising your body's natural rage of motion. I always tell my clients, when a muscle gets too tight, it looses it's mobility and starts to act like a bone. When you fall or injure yourself, if a muscle is mimicking a bone and is too tight, you are much more likely to strain the muscle. Twists are also the easiest way to relieve back fatigue and pain. By twisting you are creating length in the vertebrae and decompressing the spine. In this beautiful chain reaction you increase blood flow and promote postural alignment... In other-words you end up having better posture, which in turn increases your energy. Think about it, how do you feel when you are hunched over, with your shoulders rolled forward and stomach sticking out...? Pretty weighted down, tired and lethargic, right? Now, try pulling your shoulders back, widening your collar bone, pulling your abs in and lifting your chest? Just that postural readjustment increases your energy and encourages self confidence.
Acting as natures laxative, twists not only feel amazing, they aid in digestion and detoxification. Stimulating the "organs of elimination", which are the liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs and skin, twisting regularly helps to filter toxins from our body. By wringing out your spine, you naturally compress the organs of elimination, aiding in the removal of waste from the bowels and skin... think of it like a towel wringing out dirty bath water. Personally, only hours after I take a twist heavy class I always feel five pounds lighter, less bloated, and more energized.
Contraindications: Like any deep routed movement, there are those who should not do twists, or at least without a doctors approval and or a teacher to guide them. Those people are...
-If you have had hip replacement surgery (twisting your lower body)
-If you have Osteoporosis
-If you have spinal disk surgery
-If you have sacroiliac joint issues
Here are two of my favorite and restorative twists to do whenever and wherever.
1. Lay down on you back with your legs stretched straight and squeezing together. Grab your right knee with both hands and bring it toward your chest. Then let your right arm extend out to the side of your body with your palm towards the ground. Grab the right side of your right knee with your left hand. Scoot your hips slightly to the right. Gently pull your right knee and leg across your body to the left. Stop bringing the leg across the body when the right shoulder begins to lift off the ground. Keep extending your left leg out straight. Look to your right side. Rest and hold for 30 seconds. Then, let your right shoulder lift off the ground as you drop the right knee all the way across the body to lath left. Rest and hold for 30 seconds. To come back, slowly bring that right knee into your chest and then straighten it down to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
2. Sitting upright on your sits (butt) bones, stretch both legs straight in front of you. If you can't sit up-right, sit on a pillow or folded towel. Bend in your right leg so that the right heel comes as close to the right sits bone as possible. Bring your hands right by your hips and sit up tall. Then bring your left arm up to the ceiling and take your left elbow and place it on the right side of your right knee, palm toward the right. Use you left arm as leverage and twist your body to the right and you push your left elbow and arm to the left. Reach your right arm back behind you and sit up tall. Breath in, grow taller and and breath out and twist. Stay there for 30 seconds. To come back, bring both hands gown by your hips and stretch your legs out in front of you. Repeat on the other side.