Punk Rock Yoga–Lying Spinal Twist Pose

The Lying Spinal Twist (Jathara Parivrittasana)

By Kimberlee Jensen Stedl

While many yoga devotees insist that if you have to do just one pose (besides corpse pose) then you should do inversions. From my own experience with my own body mechanics, I feel that if you can only do one pose that day, then lying spinal twist should be it. This pose can be done both passively and actively, depending upon your needs. This pose has so many benefits that I consider it my most essential pose.

Benefits:

  • Opens the front of the shoulder and the chest
  • Opens the back and side of the hip
  • Lengthens the legs and arms
  • Twists through the abdomen to gently stimulate abdominal organs
  • Twists through the back to neutralize any kinks that develop from too much forward or backward bending

Twists can confound beginners, so here’s a simple tip to remember. In general, when you twist, if you draw one leg closer to the heart, you twist in the direction of that leg (there are other twists where you twist away from the leg, but toward the leg is by far the most common). If you think of twists like wringing out a wet towel, where you knot everything together, that’s the general idea.

Getting into the pose

  1. Lie down on your back, a firm surface is preferred so you do not add any extra curve into your spine.
  2. Reach your arms straight out from your shoulders, perpendicular to your torso.
  3. Bend your right knee, placing your right foot on the floor.
  4. Stretch your left leg straight out on the floor, pushing through the left heel.
  5. Push into your right foot, lift up your hips and swing your hips two inches to the right, so that the outside of your left hip faces the floor.
  6. Roll onto the outside of your left hip.
  7. Extend through your left heel (flexing your foot), keeping the left knee as straight as you can.
  8. Place your right foot on your left thigh, with your heel hitting just above the left knee.
  9. Twist your right knee all the way over to the left, place a book or pillow underneath your knee if your knee is off the floor so your hip can relax.
  10. Turn your head towards your right hand.
  11. Reach the back of the right shoulder towards the floor, a pillow underneath the shoulder helps if the shoulder is several inches off the ground.
  12. Try and stay in this pose for at least a minute each side.
  13. To move to the other side, straighten yourself out again so that your body is straight before you begin the twist.

Subtle points

Ideally, in your twist, your spine stays straight, and your body revolves around a straight spine. So, if you’re at home, ask a friend to look at you and make sure that your head is in line with your tail. Usually your tail slides to one side, so have a friend check out the scene and tell you if you’re crooked. It also helps to have a friend look at your arms and make sure they are aligned.

Variations

There’s another variation where you extend the top leg and do not let the foot touch the floor – that’s a much more active twist, but it’s fun to play with too.

Happy posing, Namaste

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