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Cool Down: 7 Steps for a Deeply Restorative Twist
Spinal twists may be the most-often-requested type of asana in my yoga classes. Not only do they feel good, but they also help keep your core muscles supple and your spine mobile.
While the lumbar spine is only capable of twisting about five degrees, the thoracic spine—the section of the spine connected to the rib cage—loves to twist. The thoracic spine also happens to be an area that tends to become less mobile as we age. So twisting helps that more stable area of the spine maintain its range of motion.
In yoga, we practice spinal twists in standing, sitting and supine positions. While supine twists can certainly be classified as restorative, practicing spinal rotation from a prone position is arguably the most calming for our nervous systems.
The prone twist I describe here comes from Judith Hanson Lasater’s Relax and Renew. I’ve taught this twist for years in my classes. I teach this asana toward the end of a practice, especially if we have previously practiced more stimulating yoga poses such as back bends.
How To Set Up a Restorative Twist
Lay a bolster lengthwise on the head end of a yoga mat.
Sit sideways on your yoga mat with your hips about 4-8 inches from the end of the bolster.
With your hands on either side of the bolster, gently lay your torso down onto the bolster, chest down.
Adjust your distance from the bolster, if necessary, to keep your abdomen free and your rib cage supported.
Turn your head in the direction of the twist and rest your arms on either side of the bolster.
Take a few deep breaths, settling onto your bolster as you exhale. Then allow your body to breathe naturally. Rest here for five minutes or more.
To move out of the pose, press your hands into the floor, straighten your arms, and come to an easy sitting pose for a few breaths before turning around and twisting in the other direction.
Another inspiring article from special contributor, Charlotte Bell and YogaUOnline - The Power of Simple: Why I Teach Old-School Yoga.
Study Restorative Yoga with YogaUOnline and Judith Hanson Lasater - Nourish & Rejuvenate - The Art of Practicing & Teaching Restorative Yoga.
Charlotte Bell began practicing yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. She was certified by B.K.S. Iyengar in 1989 following a trip to Pune. In 1986, she began practicing Insight Meditation with her mentors Pujari and Abhilasha Keays. Her asana classes blend mindfulness with physical movement. Charlotte writes a column for Catalyst Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. She is the author of two books: Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. She also edits Hugger Mugger Yoga Products¹ blog and is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, she plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and the folk sextet Red Rock Rondo whose 2010 PBS music special won two Emmys.