Spinal Twists 101 (Yoga Teacher Training Journal 4)

Spinal Twist: What Is It?

The spinal twist or L-spine twist is a twisting pose where the spine is twisted from side to side. The lumbar spine is stretched forward and backward while keeping the head straight. This position allows the muscles in your back to work better than they would if you were lying down with your legs crossed.

What Are Its Benefits?

It is beneficial for many reasons. First, it helps strengthen the lower back and traps. Second, it improves balance because your head does not have to rotate around much when you are doing the twist. Third, it strengthens your neck muscles which can help prevent headaches later in life. Finally, it helps relieve pressure on your sciatic nerve which causes numbness and tingling sensations in your leg or foot when walking or running.

How Does It Work?

When you do the spinal twist, your body rotates your torso so that your head points toward the floor. Your chest rises and falls slightly as well. When you hold this position for long periods of time, it becomes difficult to stop yourself from falling over backwards. However, when done correctly, it is possible to keep your head still while rotating around 360 degrees without losing control of your body. This is what makes the spinal twist so effective at strengthening all parts of the body.

How to Do It?

You can do the spinal twist by lying down on your back. You want to keep your legs straight and your feet firmly on the ground. Your arms should be stretched out in front of you. Look up toward the ceiling and keep your head in line with your spine. Inhale, lift your knees off the floor a few inches and slowly start to turn from side to side as far as you can without moving the rest of your body. Your back should be flat against the ground at all times.

Variations of the Spinal Twist

There are many different ways to practice this position, but the main concept stays the same.

The Half Spinal Twist: This variation of the spinal twist is almost exactly like the one above except your legs are bent instead of straight. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle and turned out.

The movement is the same as well.

The Seated Spinal Twist: This exercise can be done sitting on the floor or even on a chair that is comfortable for you. It is important that your back is straight and not leaning to either side.

The movement comes from your hips as you slowly twist from side to side.

The Kneeling Spinal Twist: This spinal twist is great for those with lower back pain because it puts virtually no pressure on the lower back whatsoever. Start by kneeling on the ground and keeping your back straight.

Slowly twist from side to side.

The Whole Body Twist: This exercise involves twisting your entire body from side to side. You can do it on the ground or even standing up.

The key here is to keep your knees slightly bent as you twist from side to side. Make sure to keep your head in line with your spine at all times.

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The Wheel: The wheel is a great exercise for those with back pain. It also strengthens the core, but is slightly more challenging than the spinal twist.

Start by lying on your back and placing your hands beside your head. Move your legs into a cross position and slowly lift them off the ground so that all your weight is on your shoulders and upper back. Keeping your legs up, start rolling to one side until you cannot hold it any longer. Then roll to the other side. Alternate back and forth.

The Bridge: The bridge is an exercise that works the lower back, but it also works the abdominal muscles as well. It can be modified for those with back pain by not lifting up as high, but you should work up to lifting your body as high as you possibly can.

To perform a bridge, start by lying on your back and bending your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Inhale, lifting your hips up off the ground slowly and making a diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees. Exhale, pushing through your feet and heels to lift your hips up as high as you can without bending your knees or moving your hips past the line made by your shoulders and knees. Exhale, lowering back down.

The Jackknife: The jackknife is a great exercise for your lower body and abdominal muscles. It also helps to improve the strength of your back.

To do this exercise, start by lying on your back and bending your knees, placing your feet flat on the ground with your legs shoulder width apart. Inhale, locking your arms straight out in front of you so that they form a T with your body. Exhale, drawing your knees in toward your chest while still keeping your arms straight. Inhale, extending your legs straight out so that they are parallel with the floor. Exhale, drawing your knees back into your chest while still keeping your arms straight.

Cat/Cow: The cat/cow is not only a great exercise for warming up the muscles of the spine, but it also helps with muscle recovery after a hard days work. Start by kneeling on all fours, making sure your knees are directly below your hips and your wrists are directly below your shoulders.

Your body should form a table. Inhale, arching your back and looking up towards the ceiling. Exhale, tucking your chin toward your chest and dropping your head down as low as you can. Do this exercise slowly and deliberately.

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The Plank: The plank is great for strengthening the abdominal and back muscles. Start by getting into a push-up position with your arms completely straight.

Your whole body should form a perfectly straight line from your head to your ankles. Hold this position as long as you can.

Cat/Cow: See above for details on this exercise.

The Lying Twist: This exercise works the entire abdominal area and helps keep the back in good condition. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out. Inhale, lifting your head and shoulders off the ground as you twist to the right. Exhale, dropping your head and shoulders back down. Do this exercise in slow, controlled motions.

Step 3: Stay Strong

After a few years of faithful training, you finally have the strength and power to pull off heists that no one ever thought possible. Even Penguin is impressed and offers you a place in his infamous League of Shadows.

What’s the best thing to do?

Alfred doesn’t agree with your new path in life, so you fire him. You explain that if he didn’t want you to get into this line of work then he should’ve told you not to instead of letting you struggle for ten years. Besides, it isn’t like you need a butler anymore; you’re a freaking master thief now.

What does he need to worry about?

You can steal anything!

The next day, you and Dom spend the night at the Iceberg Lounge. After having killed a few bottles of wine and a big bag of blow, you find yourself in Barbara Eisntein’s bed.

Spinal Twists 101 (Yoga Teacher Training Journal 4) - Picture

The two of you make passionate love well into the night.

That night, Barbara finds herself vomiting and shivering uncontrollably in bed.

Sources & references used in this article:

Teaching yoga to seniors: essential considerations to enhance safety and reduce risk in a uniquely vulnerable age group by T McCall – 2007 – Bantam

Effect of Iyengar yoga therapy for chronic low back pain by C Krucoff, K Carson, M Peterson, K Shipp… – The journal of …, 2010 – liebertpub.com

Yoga of Awareness program for menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors: results from a randomized trial by KA Williams, J Petronis, D Smith, D Goodrich, J Wu… – Pain, 2005 – Elsevier

Yoga Teacher Training Manual by JW Carson, KM Carson, LS Porter, FJ Keefe… – Supportive care in …, 2009 – Springer