This time of year, when we’re all feeling a little more stress and eating a little more than we should, seated twists are the way to go. They are an amazing way to detoxify the body and calm the nervous system.
Seated yoga twists fire up the digestive system to get things moving as well as stretch the back, shoulders and neck. Here are five great twists to get your body stretched, organs stimulated, and put your mind at ease.
1. Simple Seated Twist
If you’re not accustomed to twisting, simple seated twist is the perfect beginning. Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position. If it’s more comfortable, sit on a folded blanket to raise your hips.
Elongate your spine, and as you inhale, place your right hand flat on the floor behind you and your left hand on your right knee. On the exhale, move deeper into the twist while looking over your right shoulder. Hold for five breaths, then switch sides.
2. Bharadvajasana I
Start by sitting with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees to bring your feet to your left side with the sides of your legs flat on the floor. Grab a hold of your right knee with your left hand and begin to twist.
If your body allows, you can move your right hand behind you to help support you in the twist. Breathe in this pose for five breaths before switching sides. It may also help you put a folded blanket under your right hip to keep your hips level and you knees pain-free.
3. Marichyasana C
Starting with your legs straight in front of you, bend your right knee so it’s flat on the floor close to your body. Sitting tall, place your right hand behind you to support you. As you exhale, twist to bring your left elbow across your body so it hooks on the outside of your right knee.
If your elbow doesn’t reach, you can bring your arm across your shin and grasp your thigh with your left hand. Remember to keep pressing your right foot down into the earth, and sit tall with your spine straight and shoulders down.
4. Ardha Matsyendrasana
Also known as Half Lord of the Fishes, this pose is also said to increase the appetite and destroy deadly diseases. Starting with your legs straight out in front of you, bend your knees to bring your right foot close to your left buttocks and your left foot flat on the floor outside your right thigh.
Sit tall, inhale, and place your left hand behind you to serve as a tripod. As you exhale, bring your right elbow across the body and place it outside your left knee. On each inhale get taller, and on each exhale twist deeper. Hold this for five breaths and switch sides.
5. Marichyasana D
If you’re looking for a more advanced and intense twist, there’s Marichyasana D. It’s similar to Ardha Matysendrasana but more intense because you’re adding a bind.
With your right leg tucked under the left and the left foot outside the right thigh, twist your body to hook your left elbow across your right knee. Take a deep inhale, and as you exhale rotate your left arm so you can reach around towards your left hip.
Simultaneously bring your right arm behind your back and reach for your left hand. If possible, grasp your fingertips or hands and lengthen the spine. If you can’t reach, you can hold on to your shirt or hold onto a towel with each hand.
Twists are a great way to wring out the bad stuff, but if you feel any pain in your knees, try sitting on a prop or move out of the pose. Also, pregnant women should always use caution or avoid twists altogether.