Twists Primer from 11/19 Workshop
Like my teacher, John Schumacher, I design classes around the seasons. This part of my wellness philosophy is based on Ayurveda, India’s first medical system that has the same roots as yoga. Ayurveda sketches the idea that the universal elements of heat, cold, wetness, and dryness all need to be managed inside every human body. Ayurveda -- and alignment-based yoga -- teach that each body has a constitutional element, an original mapping, if you will, of one or two of these elements.
It’s important to note that both the outer environment and our inner constitution cause our own individual mix of elements to be thrown out of balance.
Poses generally and twists specifically
We practice yoga poses ideally in the context of such other wellness practices as appropriate diet, sleep, and other nurturing lifestyle choices. The poses stimulate certain conditions in the body, via just about all of its systems, that help it strengthen, lengthen, and detoxify. From here the body begins to establish a cleaner, clearer state of equilibrium.
Between approximately the Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice, we do twists because they require hip stability (which happens when they are integrated with the legs) and spinal length and strength. The hips need to warm up, strengthen, and “let go” in order for the spine to lengthen and strengthen via twisting (rotation).
Twisting and side bending the trunk have a calming/balancing effect on the mind. In Fall, as the weather cools off and winter winds pick up (and humidity leaves the air), we need to generate more warmth and groundedness. Much of the natural world is (sometimes perennially) dying away, hibernating. The gravity and the ground are used to regenerate.
Our bodies benefit from aligning with this cycle of life. In my yoga classes, we stabilize the legs, work on the hips, lengthen and side bend the trunk, and twist the trunk, in that order.
Simple rules for twists
Legs, legs, legs
You almost can’t twist too much, as long as you’re doing it right (= keeping the neck long and balanced and not twisting from hips)
Initiate twist from abdomen, finish in a totally balanced but twisted neck (except in Salamba Sirsasana 1).