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The surprising way to deepen your twists

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The surprising way to deepen your twists

Olivia Marley

We have been taking some progressively deeper twists in class this week, and this is the order they've been appearing (dotted throughout the class). In the top two, and bottom left, photos my upper body is turning gradually more towards the camera, and in the last one my upper body stays where it is but my lower body turns a little away from the camera (when I bring my back heel on to the floor). A key warm up for working towards taking the bound twists (bottom photos) is internal rotation of the shoulders - think bottom arm in gomukhasana. And if you're not sure what 'internal rotation' means hold your arm out to the side at shoulder height, palm facing down. Now turn it so your thumb points down to the floor and palm faces behind you. Your arm has internally rotated (palm facing forwards with thumb pointing up is the opposite- external rotation).

So, after getting slightly sidetracked, back to my original point: warming up the shoulders is great for twists. And these poses will help to stretch out your back. But if you find you're getting stuck don't forget that twists also require flexibility in your outer hips, so that you can twist towards each leg. For example, in these pictures I need flexibility in my right outer hip so I can turn my upper body towards that leg. And vice versa for the other side. A good warm up for outer hips is to lie on your back and straighten one leg (eg your right) up towards the ceiling. Hold on to your foot or use a strap to hold it. Then keep your back and pelvis level on the floor but take your leg across your body (so for your right leg, take it over your body towards the left). Move your leg until it stops, or until you feel a stretch in that outer hip. Then repeat on the other side. And remember not to force yourself into a twist (or any other yoga pose!): inhale to back off a little and lengthen your spine, exhale draw your lower belly in  and maybe turn a little deeper. Inhale, exhale, repeat 🌟