How to Build An Ashtanga Practice

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Session 17 - The Principles of Twisting

Twisting poses are rejuvenating. Energetically, they bring heat and pressure strategically into the body and assist in releasing what has already been processed along the paths of elimination.  Mentally and emotionally, twists help us feel how good it is to reach in and let go of what no longer serves us.


A twist is really about the relationship between the pelvis and the shoulders. When we turn into a twist and move the shoulders to the right or the left of the pelvis, we are creating a twist. In order to twist safely, you must stabilize the pelvis first and then lengthen the spine before turning the shoulders to create the twist.


Twisting should be done with compassion and patience.  Best to let go of ambition when twisting and let the breath lead you into your body. Notice when you meet resistance and work with the resistance rather than fighting the resistance.


Many of the classes poses in Ashtanga do not take into consideration the diversity in body types, therefore, it is important to explore and use modifications that assist you into safe, yet productive twists.


Twisting should feel good and there should be an expansive quality when deep in a twist. If you cannot feel the expansion and release of the breath, you have gone too far. Once the expansive quality of a twist has diminished, and you feel jammed, you are no longer building good prana and should ease up.


Twisting poses should be countered with symmetrical poses that neutralize the spine. That is why there are vinyasas between seated poses.  That is why Navasana (Boat pose) follows the twisting poses. 


Remember the principles of safe twisting

Seat the pelvis as you gather in and up on the inhales

Expand open into the twist as you exhale.


Now you know how to apply intelligence to your twists!