Bend twist

Standing Forward Bend Twist provides an intense stretch to the back of your legs and to your inner thighs, while twisting your spine. This pose is beneficial for toning your abdominal muscles, releasing tension in your upper body and improving your circulation.

As you perform Standing Forward Bend Twist, focus on moving deeper into the twist with each exhalation. The position of your arms in this pose opens your chest to increase your capacity for deep breathing. If you find looking up at your raised hand strains your neck, you can look at the floor instead.

Before performing Standing Forward Bend Twist, you should feel comfortable performing Standing Wide Angle Forward Bend, which is a more basic variation of this pose. Practicing Standing Wide Angle Forward Bend can help you develop the balance and flexibility you need to perform this pose.

Take caution performing Standing Forward Bend Twist if you suffer from high blood pressure, lower back problems or headaches.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain Pose, see page 120.

• Make sure your feet are parallel and your toes are pointing straight ahead.

Place your palms on the floor in front of you. Your arms should be straight and your elbows should not be locked.

Point the crown of your head toward the floor and tilt your sitting bones toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain Pose, see page 120.

Step your right foot to the right 2 to 3 feet.

• Make sure your feet are parallel and your toes are pointing straight ahead.

Exhale as you bend forward from your hips, keeping your heels on the floor and your back flat.

Place your palms on the floor in front of you. Your arms should be straight and your elbows should not be locked.

Point the crown of your head toward the floor and tilt your sitting bones toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine.

• Make sure your head, neck and spine are in a straight line.

How do I know if the width of my stance is correct in this pose?

As a general rule, you should stand with your feet 2 to 3 feet apart in this pose. However, you may need to adjust your stance if you are tall. Standing with your feet further than 3 feet apart may help you reach your palms to the floor.

What should I do if I cannot reach my palms to the floor?

If you cannot reach your palms down to the floor, you can rest each of your palms on a block or bend your knees slightly.

I find I get dizzy when I perform this pose. What should I do?

Make sure you breathe evenly as you perform the twist and come out of the pose very slowly. Avoid this pose if dizziness continues to be a problem.

Press your left hand into the floor.

Inhale as you raise your right arm and point your fingers toward the ceiling.

Twist your torso to the right.

Turn your head and look up at your right hand.

10 Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds.

11 Repeat steps to 11 for your other side.

To come out of the pose, release the twist and bring your feet together. Bend your knees and inhale as you slowly roll up to a standing position.

(parivrtta parsvakonasana)

Side Angle Twist, also called Reverse Right Angle, is an advanced pose that stretches your legs, spine and the sides of your body. The twist in this pose stimulates your abdominal organs, which helps to aid digestion. Side Angle Twist is also useful for improving your balance and strengthening your legs and torso.

While performing Side Angle Twist, make sure you keep your back flat and your spine lengthened. You should also make sure you keep your arms straight.

The position of your arms in this pose allows your chest to open more, which can increase your capacity for deep breathing. Since the twist in this pose is intense, be careful not to move deeper into the pose than is comfortable for you.

You should use caution performing Side Angle Twist if you have had an injury to your back or spine or if you have high blood pressure. You should also avoid this pose if you have a headache.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain Pose, see page 120.

Turn your left foot in 45 degrees and then turn your right foot out 90 degrees.

5 Turn your torso to face the same direction as your right knee.

Exhale as you bend forward from your hips.

Begin in Mountain Pose. For information on Mountain Pose, see page 120.

Step your right foot to the right approximately 3 feet.

Turn your left foot in 45 degrees and then turn your right foot out 90 degrees.

Bend your right knee until it is over your right ankle.

5 Turn your torso to face the same direction as your right knee.

Raise your arms up to shoulder height, with your palms facing down. Your shoulders should be down and relaxed.

Exhale as you bend forward from your hips.

Place your left palm or fingertips on the floor near the inside of your right foot.

What can I do if I have difficulty maintaining my balance?

To help maintain your balance, begin in Lunge Pose with your left knee on the floor. For information on Lunge Pose, see page 180. Then perform steps to 12 below and repeat for your other side. Once you become comfortable with this modification, try the pose from the standing position. This modification is also useful if you have high blood pressure and must avoid a standing forward bend.

What should I do if my palm cannot reach the floor?

If your palm cannot reach the floor in this pose, you can position a block on the inside of your foot and place your palm on the block.

How can I deepen this pose?

To deepen the pose, place your palm or fingertips on the floor on the outside of your foot. This modification provides a more intense twist to your torso and spine.

Twist to the right and stretch your right arm up toward the ceiling. Your arm should be straight, but your elbow should not be locked.

10 Turn your head to look up at your right hand.

Press through the crown of your head to lengthen your spine.

Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds.

To come out of the pose, bring your right arm down and release the twist in your torso. Then return to Mountain Pose.

14 Repeat steps 2 to 13 for your other side.

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