Twists are like the spring cleaning of yoga poses. The clear out dull energy and bring vitality and freshness. Twisting poses help mobilize the back, free up the spinal muscles and shoulders. On a deeper level, they stimulate and refresh the liver, kidneys and digestive and reproductive organs. In Gem for Women, Geeta Iyengar states, “They are a boon for those suffering from indigestion, acidity, irritation of intestines, diabetes and flatulence..They alleviate disorders of the kidneys, liver, spleen and gall-bladder…..”Try these ways of using the wall to enliven your practice of twists.
Begin and end with a poses to elongate the sides of the trunk evenly and extend the spine. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) with heels raised up on blocks and at the wall is a great way to extend arms, legs and spine. Press the center of the palm down, lift the root of the thighs upwards and backwards and work heels strongly into the wall. Lift the inner ankles up and meet that with drawing outer ankles in. Trace that action through legs, hips and spine. What happens with inner legs? Do they become taller? Is there space in the pelvic floor? What happens in outer thighs and hips? Can you feel a firmness there?
2. Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle). Before doing this deeper twist, do Utthita Trikonasana. This variation facing the wall brings understanding to aligning the spine, and the arm at the wall serves to deepen the twist. Focus on keeping the legs straight, both center heels pressing down. Rememeber the action in Down-Dog – raise inner ankles up, pressing outer ankles in. Use your feet to search for a balance between the inner thighs moving away from one another and engaging outer ankles and hips inwards. Feel how that stabilizes the pelvis and gives you access to further elongating the spine as you move into this twist.
3. Pressing back hand into the wall. Seated Bharadvajasana (sage pose). Press both feet on floor, keep innner thighs moving down and draw outer hips in. As you root down through legs and pelvis climb the trunk upwards. Place the back hand at the wall, pulling down to further lift trunk up, and to deepen the twisting. Take care not to lean back into wall, but use hand as an impulse to bring the back ribs into the body and focus on lifting front ribs up. Synchronize inhaling, lifting, exhaling deepen the twist.
3. Foot resisting into wall. In seated twists, many students lose contact with the legs that makes it challenging to climb the trunk upwards. In Maricyasana III, with the foot at the wall. and sitting on a block, the feet, legs and pelvis become agents for the lengthening the spine. Press out through the center of both heels, extending your spine upwards. After bringing one hand behind and the other on the outer knee, find the balance again of engaging outer hips in, taking care to keep space between inner thighs. As you climb the trunk upwards and turn, can you really connect with heels? Tap into that energy and feel how it feeds the spine and deepens your twist.
Try finishing your practice repeating Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) and with a pose like Supta Baddha Konasana. Imagine fresh, oxygenated blood recharging your organs, and feel stale energy being flushed out. Drink lots of water following your practice and top that off with a cup of Cumin, Coriander and Fennel Tea. Nicknamed CCF tea, is an Ayurvedic blend that is beneficial for detoxification, weight loss, and burning up that excess of water retention.
“The Parivrtta action, the turning comes from the groin of the back leg. This
groin has to be soft like a flower. The groin should not get crushed.” BKS Iyengar