Twists are very beneficial in keeping the spine fluid and supple. Spinal twists move the body in an unusual way and this movement may help alleviate stress in areas of the body that are usually hidden and forgotten. Twists help to relieve congestion in the internal organs by bringing fresh oxygen to them, and by squeezing and releasing these organs. Spinal twists are similar to a massage for your organs.
Since these poses will be unfamiliar to your child, they should be demonstrated to him first. Additionally, you will want to physically guide him into the pose to make sure he will be comfortable sitting in the pose on his own. The twisting poses will help him explore new feelings in his body in a comfortable manner.
Children with ASDs are often very uncomfortable with the idea of twisting their bodies. We suggest that you remind your child that he will be safe and that you are there to guide him. It is not recommended that you tell him the benefits of the pose as described above. We worry that he would get fixated on visions of internal organs being twisted like a wrung out towel! It is beneficial to merely guide him into the position and have him try the twist. At first, children are somewhat uncomfortable. However, they then usually relax and stop complaining.
1. Sit cross-legged at the front of your mat. Straighten your spine and lift the crown of your head to the sky. Lengthen your torso as much as possible, so that when you twist you are not grinding down into your body. Instead, you are freeing the spine by lengthening and twisting.
2. Begin to twist to the right by placing your right hand behind your back as far as possible. Keep the right hand on the floor and try to press into the palm to keep the spine lifted upward.
3. Place your left hand on your right knee to help your body go into the twist. Do not push your body farther than is comfortable.
4. Take a breath in, and think about lengthening your body upward to the sky. Exhale and slowly twist your body to the right.
5. When you are "twisted," take three breaths in this position. Feel your spine twist and stretch (Figure 2.45).
6. You may look over your right shoulder towards the back of the room, but you should not feel tension in your neck. If you cannot look backward, then keep your neck in whatever position is comfortable while you hold the twist.
7. After holding this position for three breaths, release the pose and sit cross-legged for a few breaths. Then repeat the twist to the left side.
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