In yoga, there are a variety of twisting postures that benefit the external and internal body.
Externally, engaging in twisting yoga positions can increase your flexibility, strength and mobility. In everyday situations, twisting your upper body may be taken for granted. Your torso is constantly in motion: bending forward and back, twisting side to side. If stiff or sore, it can be a challenge to move your upper body in a functional way. Rotations are limited and bending to the side could potentially be painful.
Yoga postures can release the tension in the core muscles so that your movement can feel free again.
Internally, practicing yoga twists can assist your digestion. Feeling full or bloated can be quite uncomfortable and a result of a poor digestive process. What is needed to regain proper functioning of the digestive system is efficient blood flow.
Certain yoga postures, like twists, will not only help blood flow to this region of the body, but also provide a gentle massage to your internal organs. This attention to your body will facilitate a more operative digestive process.
Passive Spinal Twist
Starting with a mild rotation in the torso can begin the process of building strength in the core system and stimulate digestion. This passive spinal twist will be a good warm up.
Begin by lying on your stomach propped up on your forearms. Press up to your knees so you can slide your left knee underneath you toward the right edge of your mat. Keep your knee bent at 90 degrees and set your left hip on the floor. Simply bend your right knee to 90 degrees. (Your knee and foot foot will point toward the left side of your mat.) Stay on your elbows and face forward and maintain a good length in your spine. The crossing of the legs creates a mild rotation in the spine, primarily in the cervical spine (mid-back region). Hold this posture while it massages the spine and the surrounding supportive muscles. This position will also create some release in the hips. Take 10 slow, deep breaths. When you're complete with this first side, perform the rotation on the other side.
Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
This next yoga rotation is more active in nature. It is a classic yoga posture called Half Lord of the Fishes. Start in a seated posture with your legs extending out in front of you. Bend your right knee and cross that foot over the extended left leg. Rotate your torso to the right side. Hook your left elbow over the bent knee. Keep this arm and hand active; spread open your palm as if you are waving. Use your right hand behind you on the floor to maintain length in the spine and to stabilize your pose. Inhale to create more length in the torso, exhale to gently revolve to the right. Hold for 10 slow, long breaths. It is ok if both hips do not touch the floor at the same time. This might suggest some tightness in the hips. This pose, though, will encourage release in this hindered area. After holding the posture on this first side, return to center, then practice this active twist on the other side.
Kneeling Lunge with a Twist
This next active twisting posture will continue the strengthening along your torso and enhance the blood flow in your system to activate the digestive system.
Start in a kneeling position with hips aligned over your knees. Step your right foot forward so that you're still kneeling on your left side. Inhale to extend your left arm in the air to create length in your upper body. As you exhale, rotate your torso to the right, bend forward slightly, and brace your left elbow on the outer portion of your bent right knee. Inhale to create more length in your spine. Exhale to rotate deeper until you've reached the desired sensation. (You can place your right hand on your low back to stabilize yourself.) Hold here for 10 slow, deep breaths. Unwind when you are complete and hold for a moment in a neutral position. This allows your organs and spine to realign before you engage the twist on the other side.