Eight hours at a desk? Two hours sitting in traffic? An hour sitting in front of the television after dinner? Do any of these activities sound familiar? Sitting (and also long hours of standing) puts a lot of pressure on our lower vertebrae, restricting circulation to that area. When we mindfully twist our bodies we restore circulation, begin to correct posture, and rejuvenate the spinal column. Sounds fantastic right? But there’s an added bonus! Twists compress the internal organs and glands of the torso, forcing out toxic waste. When pressure is released, fresh blood rich with oxygen flows back to the organs which aids in digestion. (Side note: it’s best to go to class on a relatively empty stomach)
For my last class at Hale Om, I sequenced a class based on juicy twists to develop flexibility in the spine, hips, shoulders, and abdomen. The class featured on of my favorite poses, Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana). This is a great seated pose for ending a sequence, but it can also be practiced on it’s own.
To begin, sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Make sure that both sits bones are rooted to the floor. Slide your left foot underneath your right leg so that the left foot sits at the outer edge of your right hip. Bring the right foot across the left bent knee so that the foot stands on the outside of the thigh. On an inhale bring the right arm up and reach towards the back of the room, creating space in the spine. Place the fingertips or palm in line with your sacrum behind you.
Inhale, reaching the left arm up; on an exhale twist, bringing your left elbow to the outside of the right thigh. If it feels ok in the neck, gaze back over your right shoulder. If you feel any tension keep your gaze forward. With every inhale feel yourself grow a little bit taller, and with every exhale take the twist a little deeper. Breathe slowly and deeply, staying for 30 seconds to a minute. To exit the pose, exhale and release the twist. Reverse your legs and repeat, taking the twist to the opposite side.
If you have a spine or back injury, perform this pose only under the instruction of an experienced instructor.