BY: TRISHA CURLING
Discussing the benefits of yoga is an endless conversation. The many aspects and the way that both our practice and our lives change to reflect the other allows us to travel along the journey of yoga with a continued sense of curiosity and learning. Even after doing the same pose 100 times, there is always something new to discover and/or a new place to direct our focus in each pose. If we take a look at twisting poses, for example, we have the ability to focus on the impact these types of poses have on our organs to influence our digestion in a positive way. Our focus can also be directed more towards our skeletal structure, more specifically the spine and how we have the potential to revitalize health and longevity in this area of the body. It’s true our focus can be completely separate from the body as well, but how wonderful it is to know that there are gentle movements that can have the ability to rewrite the experiences we have in our bodies in the moment and in the future.
Digestion may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we pick up our mats and water bottles to head to a yoga class, but it is certainly being tended to while we practice. Our breath alone has a significant impact on this system. When we breathe deeply it acts as a mild massage to the organs that are responsible for digestion. Digestion is extremely important to our health because when functioning well, our bodies more easily, absorb nutrients which can then be used as energy. Twisting poses are important because they are said to have to ability to promote blood flow through our organs which helps to detoxify them. Creating these shapes with our bodies compresses the organs of digestion. When we do this, we promote the removal of waste. Allowing the system to continue to remove waste from the body is part of what aids in the absorption of nutrients.
It’s pretty amazing to think that by simply executing twisting poses in our practice we can influence such powerful systems in our bodies. When practicing, we can also bring our focus to the impact these poses have on the spine. Consider your disc health. Part of the responsibility of the discs in our spine is to absorb impact and create space between each vertebra. The way that the discs receive their “nutrition” is through movement (which is why movement is so imperative to life). Twisting postures aid in hydrating the discs. When we twist, we change and/or equalize the pressure inside of them by drawing more necessary fluid inside. There is no need for bold, large movements to initiate this process. Simple gentle movements provide a great deal of benefit. The thoracic spine is an area of the spine that is more fixed than the cervical and lumbar areas. This is an area that should be more fixed (due to rib cage attachment), but should also have a healthy degree of mobility. Performing twisting poses offers us the opportunity to promote healthy mobility in this area.
As always, the benefits are not limited to what has been discussed in this article, but they are reasons enough to continue to motivate us to continue to move. Performing twists can allow us to be more upright and healthy in our postures, but they can also help us to bend and swerve as all types of movements are what adds to the vitality of our lives and overall health.