Relaxed Supine Twist

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The three previous postures require at least some muscular activity. To contrast them with a relaxed supine twist, place the hands ilat on the floor and straight out to the sides, draw the heels toward the hips, cross the right knee over the left, and twist the lower part of the body to the right so that the knees are lowered toward the floor (fig. 7.13). There is little or no tendency for the opposite shoulder to lift off the floor in this mild posture, but it still may be tricky to relax in it from head to toe, especially at the beginning of a hatha yoga session. Adjust the amount of flexion in the knees and hip joints (determined by how far away from the hips you place your feet) so you can relax as much as possible; the more flexion the greater the twist, but the greater the twist the more challenging it will be to relax.

The main characteristic of this pose is that you can analyze the sensations of passive stretch at your leisure. The posture pries the left thigh in the direction of the twist, pidls the head of the left femur slightly away from its socket, and lifts the left side of the pelvis off the floor. As a result, the pose places torque on the lumbar region and on the left sacroiliac joint. Repeat the posture, crossing the left knee over the right and twisting down to the left. If you try this relaxed twist at the beginning and then at the end of a session of hatha yoga postures, the experience will be markedly different. In the beginning you may feel slight pain in some of the ligaments of the hip and sacroiliac joints, making it difficult to relax from the waist down, but when you are warmed up the situation will have improved. And as your musculoskeletal health improves you wiU gradually find yourself able to relax more completely.


This posture takes the above relaxed supine twist to the other extreme. Lie on your back and again cross the right knee over the left, but now interlock the ankles as well, the right under the left. And instead of twisting to the right as you did before, twist to the left. With the hands outstretched, and

Rgure 7.13. This relaxed supine twist Is very complex, and ■t may challenge the ability of beginners relax, especially at 'be start of a session of hatha yoga.

relaxed supine twist Is very complex, and ■t may challenge the ability of beginners relax, especially at 'be start of a session of hatha yoga.

•|0k anatom) of ha tha yoga with the upper extremities stabilizing the torso, strongly press the rigl shoulder to the floor and twist the knees as much to the left as possible (Fi 7.14). For this to feel comfortable you will have to create internal muscul; resistance to the twist, just as we tightened the muscles of the low extremities to create a healthy musculoskeletal framework for standii ; postures (chapter 4). The need for creating muscular resistance in ti 3 posture is even more obvious. It's like wringing out a washcloth. T e muscles that are creating the twist have to be matched from the should< s to the feet by their antagonists, all of them in a state of isometric activi y, some creating the twist, others resisting. It's unthinkable to relax t e antagonists in this posture. Slowly release the pose and repeat on t ie other side.


The double leglil't supine twist is an intense abdominal and back exen ->e in addition to a twist. To do it start from a supine position with ie upper extremities extended straight out to the sides, palms down. F im there exhale, press the lower back to the floor, and taking care to keep tie knees extended fully, lift the thighs perpendicular to the floor in a doi >le leglift (fig. 3.17). Then slowly allow gravity to carry the flexed thighs nd extended legs to one side while you turn your head in the opposite di >c-tion. Try to keep the soles of the feet within an inch or so of the same pi ie, bracing the posture with the upper extremities and keeping both shou1 'rs against the floor. As always, repeat on the other side.

This is an advanced posture, and you have to have excellent flexil ity as well as abdominal and back strength to do it comfortably. Just co ng into the initial position with the thighs perpendicular to the floor reqi res 90° of hip flexibility and that's before you even think of adding the t 1st. Those who can complete the posture will end up with their pelvis ; >ut 15° short of being perpendicular to the floor, so if the shoulders are ^pt flat, the posture will require 75" of twist between the shoulders am the pelvis. If we allot 50 of twist to the lumbar region, this means 70° of vist in the thoracic segment of the vertebral column, or 250 more thai the average of 450.

Figure 7.14. A double-locked-leg twist is best done against full muscular resistance.

Figure 7.14. A double-locked-leg twist is best done against full muscular resistance.

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If the arm and shoulder opposite the direction of the twist are lifted off the floor, or if you can't lower the legs to the floor whUe keeping them flexed 90°, there are several ways to moderate the posture. You can keep the knees extended and lower over only to the point at which you can comfortably come back up, exhaling as you go to the side and inhaling as you come back up (fig. This requires strong muscular activity in the abdominal wall and creates intense sensations in the hip joints, sacroiliac joints, and lower back. Or you can keep the lower back straight and the knees extended, but flex the thighs less than 90° rather than trying to keep them perpendicular to the torso. As before, if you can't lower the feet all the way to the floor, lower them only part way down. Simplest of all, flex the hips 120° and the knees 90' (lig. 7.16), and then twist to one side with the knees together until they touch the floor. Either relax in the pose, or keep breathing and immediately raise back up in a continuous movement before slowly twisting to the other side.

Figure 7.15. The double leglift supine twist, done according to the specifications in the text, is a valuable study in the dynamics of the musculoskeletal architecture of the body, and will challenge even the strongest and most flexible athlete. Swinging the lower extremities over 45" as shown here is more reasonable for most students.

Figure 7.16. For those who do not have enough flexibility to do the full double leglift supine twist, dropping the lower extremities to the floor ■rom this easy preparatory Position is still useful. For the hesl exercise, go from side to s'de coming to within an inch

«wo of the floor in a continuous movement, and r*"lax and rest in this upright Position instead of resting *"th the legs all the way to "lp floor on one side.

4IO \l\atom> of hatha yoga

If you can easily do the full posture with the knees straight and the h >s flexed 90°, you can sharpen it further by keeping the feet together, wh h requires pushing the upper foot out so it remains in line with the foot t it is closest to the floor. To the extent that the feet remain in line with ,e another, the pelvis will approach being perpendicular to the floor, am ¡f you keep the shoulders against the floor, the final posture will require dc of twist between the shoulders and the pelvis instead of the 75° mentio -d earlier.

All of the double leglift supine twists can be approached in two wa\ — as movements or as postures. As far as budding strength is concerned, >u can get the most benefits by going back and forth from one side to the ot er continuously, without quite touching the floor and without pausim to relax. On the other hand, you can come all the way down to the floor > a relaxed or semi-relaxed hatha yoga posture. In any case, all of tl se exercises and postures are useful for exploring twisting in the thoi ic spine because the hips are not swiveled when the thighs are against he floor and because the pelvis and shoulders are stabilized. As you a ne into the twist, you can flex the thighs and knees to suit yourself in o. er to place the lumbar and thoracic spine under as much tension as 1 iey can accommodate in the relaxed posture.

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Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Unite Mind Body Spirit With Yoga

Practitioners of yoga talk about a unification of body, mind and spirit acquired through practicing the yoga exercises and techniques. Learn more within this guide.

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