You are unlikely to go to a yoga class and not encounter a twist of some kind - from the wonderful restorative, to the challenging ardha chandrasana, Why is this?Twisting in yoga helps in a variety of physical ways, for example increasing blood flow to the digestive organs, thus impriving their ability to function. Practicing twisting postures helps to keep the spinal muscles mobile and the discs lubricated, helping to keep you mobile and protect your back. In addition, twists stretch and strengthen the back muscles by re-aligning the relationship between the shoulders / pelvis and the spine which can provide serious relief from the back pain caused by everyday life.
Twists are wonderful postures to help with mental and emotional aspects too, such as stress or anxiety. Twisting helps to open the chest, shoulders and back, all of which can help to decrease feelings of anxiousness.The key ingredient in all our yoga postures, but especially twists is found in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra 2.6: sthira-sukham asanam: that which is steady and comfortable is asana. We can enhance our experience by finding a comfortable seat or grounding stance, coupled with a steady breath. As twists are rotating the spine, we must practice with ease, otherwise we can actually hurt our backs. A steady breath will start to calm the mind, so we can become more aware of what is going on for us in that moment: the different physical sensations, the different emotional layers; and our practice starts to deepen and take on different dimensions.