Indiana & Yoga Magazine Summer 2016 Issue 1 | Page 57

PHYSICAL YOGA backs this up explaining , “ The base of your spine rests on your pelvis , so if you turn your pelvis and spine in the same direction when you twist , your whole spine will turn as a unit , and your vertebrae won ’ t rotate as much on one another — at least at first . But your pelvis can turn only so far , and when it stops , the base of your spine stops too . If you continue turning the rest of your spine , you can eventually achieve just as much vertebral rotation as if you had held your pelvis completely stationary from the beginning .
What Twists Should You Teach ? First , take some time to explore twisting on your own with the understanding that all bodies are made similar , yet are different in subtle ways . See if your twists feel deeper when you keep your pelvis neutral or how it feels to allow your pelvis to move with the twist . Some people can keep their pelvis neutral and go very deep into a twist without cause for concern . However , the majority of the population are not that flexible and need both the guidance and permission to allow their pelvis to move .
For example , in parivrtta trikonasana [ par-ee-vrit- tah trikcone-AHS-anna , “ revolved triangle ”], we have been traditionally taught to keep our pelvis level and only twist the spine . However , the majority of practitioners have a hard time revolving and do one of two things : just don ’ t revolve very well or torque their sacrum in the process . And if you keep your pelvis level and only try to twist at the thoracic spine , it just plain sucks because you feel stuck . Instead , keep your back straight and allow the pelvis to tilt by lowering the hip of the back leg . This will make your legs work harder and make room to twist fully while keeping your sacrum in its proper place . And you can still use your abdominal muscles to open your chest and twist even more into the pose in the thoracic area . However , if you can learn to relax into the twist instead it will allow the deep back muscles around the spine to release . As Cole explains , “ If you engage your trunk muscles to twist , you usually limit your range of motion ; beyond a certain point , you wind up contracting muscles that should be relaxing and stretching .”
Try a variation on parivrtta trikonasana using the wall and really find a deep , juicy twist . In the Iyengar yoga tradition , the wall itself is often used as a prop to help both stabilize you and give you a sense of pressing into something with the outside of your foot in standing poses . Set up for trikonasana beginning with the outside of your right heel into the wall and your left foot forward . Once stabilized , put your right hand on the wall and then twist the torso so that your left hand is now on the wall . Bend at the hip with your torso straight , and now you are in revolved triangle . Remember to allow your right hip to relax down as you twist so your pelvis remains neutral and back straight . Again , you can use your abdominal muscles to help
Parivrtta Trikonasana
open your chest to the left side . Come out of the pose in the reverse order that you came in . Repeat with the left foot back and right foot forward .
As for supine twists , there are still a few variations suitable for most practitioners . Twisting from the top down is what I recommend because you are keeping the pelvis neutral and ensuring that the twist comes from the upper spine . Begin by lying on one side with knees bent in a 90 degree angle and arms straight from your body with palm over palm . Then , open the top arm so that your chest is open and your arms make a “ T ”. You may have to shift the shoulder blade of the bottom arm over a bit to help your chest open even more . There may come a point where your other shoulder will not reach the ground and that ’ s