Health, Wellness, and My "Multi-Life"

Yoga Weekend, Part 2: Twists

on June 13, 2013

Unlike the workshop on adjustments, the evening session on twists was organized just like a “regular” yoga class. Kino began with a short description and rationale of what was to follow, led us in some chanting, and then took us into asana (poses/postures) practice. Since twisting is meant to detoxify, I assumed the class would be fast-paced to heat our bodies quickly and include numerous postures. I was pleasantly surprised when we focused on about a dozen poses. Kino employed a very meticulous, step-by-step method to get us into each one, and even repeated several poses. As someone on the less-flexible end of the yoga spectrum, this worked wonders for me. I actually had to stop myself from shouting, “Marichyasana C, Baby! Check out the bind!”

Digression: sometimes I get my formats confused – but only in one direction. That is, I never accidentally “speak yoga” while teaching Body Combat or Total Body Conditioning (although maybe it would be fun to say, “Open your heart” next time I’m teaching pec flies). But on several occasions I have very inappropriately gone “full-on aerobics instructor” while taking a yoga class. The worst episode occurred during a master class at Fireflow Yoga in Toronto. I was very focused on following directions, being “in the moment,” and not anticipating the next pose. But suddenly I found myself in a previously impossibly pose and inadvertently shouted, “Yeeeeeaaaaaah!” Thankfully no one fell, and class proceeded as if the outburst had never happened.

But back to twists … very commonly, spinal twists end up confined to the cervical and maybe the thoracic spine. That is, people turn their heads more than their bodies. But if the lumbar spine is left out of the twist, so are all those digestive organs! Kino had us anchor our sit bones very firmly onto our mats and then initiate our spinal twists with lateral movement of the ribcage. If you’ve ever taken modern or jazz dance, you will recognize the movement from isolations. Adding this lateral movement – which she described as “packing” – allowed me to feel that spinal twist much deeper and lower in my body than ever before. We employed this tactic with sitting poses like Marichyasana C, standing posts like Parivrtta Parsvakonasa, and even the super-exciting Parsva Bakasana (during which I made a conscious effort to keep my mouth closed – maybe this is an unstated reason behind nasal breathing in yoga?). Since returning to Philly, I’ve incorporated some of what I learned into my own classes, and participants have been binding left and right, literally!

The three hours flew by like one, and I felt interestingly sore in some new areas: psoas and internal obliques (this was to return with a vengeance during the Saturday morning Primary Sequence class). But as we came out of relaxation, my mind immediately flew to the urgent matters of catching the train and silencing my stomach.


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