As we move into any version of seated twists, try not the use the arms to create the rotation, instead lift through the torso using the breath, rotate using the obliques and then release the arms (wherever they land) to hold you securely in the pose.
Sukha baby Sukha… move with ‘ease’ not force….
There are two schools of thought regarding seated twists, 1) keep the sit bones firmly anchored and the pelvis still or 2) move with some rotation in the pelvis allowing for movement in the twist.
Now most teachers seem to pick one or the other. But really you can do it both ways, it just depends on what you want (need?) from the pose.
When you are firmy anchored, you need to achieve even more lift through the bandhas to avoid torquing the lumbar spine and creating real problems in the sacrum. Anchoring allows for isolation in the obliques and other specific muscles in the torso and while that limits your range of motion, it builds a great deal of strength, And that’s good, right?
When doing the 2nd version, you’re allowing some mobility in the pelvis and sacrum and your body is moving in a more ‘real world’ i.e. funtional way. Think about sitting on the floor playing with catch with the dog or a child and the ball rolls a little past you out of reach, so you rotate the torso, reaching the arm back, the navel center rotates in the same direction as well and you lift the left hip taking it with you as you move, this type of movement uses more muscles, less isolation and gives you better range of motion. Well that’s good too.
Just remember either way you do the pose, you need to keep the arms out the equation. Don’t use them to tug or pull you into a pose, that’s using unnecessary force. I think it is Judith Lasater who says ‘dont use the arms as weapons’. Remember it’s all about the Sukha.
Twisting poses, from the simplest sage twist to most elaborate binding twists, are nourishing for the body. Twists massage and stimulate the organs, improve circulation and digestion. Twists help to restore a more natural range of motion to the spine. They also……
- Stimulates the liver and kidneys
- Stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck
- Energizes the spine
- Stimulates the agni (digestive fire) in the belly
- Relieves fatigue, sciatica, and backache
- Helps with anxiety, stress and tension
A version of ‘Sage Twist’ Bharadvajasana showing the fluidity in the pose
A point to remember, if you have arthritis in the spine or scoliosis please seek the advice of a qualified teacher before doing anything other than the simplest of seated twists.
Have fun exploring this in your next practice.
My dear friend Lori and I doing a partner version of Parivrtta Sukhasana