Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring into Action with Yoga: Twisting Postures

yoga twists
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Just a few weeks ago, there were four-foot icicles hanging off the gutters of my small cottage. Really! In only a few weeks time, the icicles have melted completely. At times, I can even hear the heralding call of the geese, as they begin their annual pilgrimage back to New York. With the advent of the spring equinox, many geographical areas that have lain ensconced in snow and ice throughout the winter are beginning to become enlivened by the faint whispers of spring. 

In the same way, you may be feeling the burgeoning of new energy and life around you and within you, as the seasons shift from late winter into early spring. At this time of year, many Yoga practitioners become more acutely aware of the heaviness or tamas that has built up in their being through the cold, winter months. "Tamas" is an Ayurvedic word that refers to sluggishness, inertia and a sense of heaviness, which is often due to a buildup of toxins in the body and mind. You may even notice that you have put on a few extra pounds during the winter months!

For these reasons, many Yoga practitioners feel a need to engage in a vigorous, cleansing Yoga practice as the earth unfurls into the effervescent beauty of spring.  Twisting Yoga postures are wonderfully invigorating and detoxifying. Both standing and seated twisting Yoga postures help to wring out toxins, release deep muscular tension and invigorate the whole body. There are many different twisting Yoga postures to choose from if you are creating a particular sequence of poses to teach to your class or to incorporate in your own personal practice. 

Some of the more accessible standing twisting Yoga postures include Reversed Side Angle Pose and Revolved Chair Pose. Most Yoga students can safely practice revolved Chair Pose. This posture strengthens the front of the quadriceps, the inner thighs and the hip flexor muscles.  It also improves the range of motion in your ankles and increases your sense of place in space, through the grounding motion of your feet. Revolved Chair Pose also helps to cleanse and detoxify the abdominal organs and tissues, as it expands and opens up your shoulders, heart area and upper back. 



* Revolved Chair Pose or Parivrtta Utkatasana

Revolved Chair Pose is usually practiced after a series of Sun Salutations and standing Yoga asanas. When you are ready to practice Revolved Chair Pose, come to an equal standing position at the front of your Yoga mat. Distribute the weight of your body equally between both feet and feel the solidity of the earth beneath you. Take a few deep breaths and with your next inhale raise your arms over your head into Prayer Position. Bend your knees to a 60-degree angle and keep your feet hips' distance apart. If you are unable to keep your heels flat on the floor when your knees are bent, place a rolled blanket or a foam wedge underneath your heels for support. With your next exhale; bring your arms down to chest height, while keeping your hands in Prayer Position

Rotate your upper body to the right, so that you are able to hook the outside of your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Remember to keep your knees parallel to each other and your feet flat on the floor, rolled blanket or foam wedge. Gently press your left elbow against the outside of your right knee and twist more deeply into the posture with each exhale. Likewise, with each inhalation release the twisting motion slightly, before twisting more deeply into Parivrtta Utkatasana with each successive exhalation. As you continue to work more deeply in this twisting Yoga posture, remember to keep your elbows in a straight line with each other by pressing firmly against the palms of your hand.  

When you have completed your practice of Revolved Chair Pose on the right hand side, with your next inhalation release your left elbow and bring your hands back over your head. With your next exhalation, release the position of your arms and come back to an equal standing position at the top of your Yoga mat. Repeat Revolved Chair Pose on the left hand side when you are ready. When you have completed your practice of Revolved Chair Pose, pause for a moment to feel the reverberation of fresh energy, oxygen and the release of deep-seated tension throughout your entire body, before moving on with the rest of your Yoga practice. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she specializes in crafting SEO articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga, fitness and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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