I had a question from a student last week about always feeling squashed in twisting postures, which has led on to this week's focus in class. The first thing that's worth saying is that your torso is inevitably going to feel a bit compressed in these types of poses. You can see from the photos above that my abdomen ends up pressed against my thigh. But there are definitely a couple of little adjustments you can make to create a bit more space in your twists! Read on for step by step instructions for the postures above....
Start in a lunge with your right leg forwards and hands in prayer (see picture below left). Hook your right thumb into your right hip crease, just where your thigh joins your torso, with your fingers wrapped around towards your bum. Reach your other arm up towards the ceiling. Push your right thumb down towards the floor and encourage that hip to wrap a little bit in towards the centre line of your mat (see below right). Feel how anchoring that hip down and back allows you to reach your other arm and lengthen your spine upwards a little more.
Keep your thumb pushing down into your hip crease and keep lengthening through your torso as your reach your other arm forwards, then hook your elbow on the outside of your front knee (below left). Keep lengthening your spine as you bring your palms together (below right). Push your front knee out against your elbow and turn your belly and ribs a little further around, aiming your thumbs towards the centre of your chest. This is a brilliant pose in itself - if it feels enough for you, stay here!
If you want to deepen the twist a little further, take your top hand on to your front thigh. See if that helps you slide your other elbow a little more down the outside of your leg (below left). If when you straighten your bottom arm that hand now reaches the floor, put it on the outside of your foot (below right). You don't have to get your palm all the way down - fingertips works too! If your hand doesn't reach the floor bring your hands back into prayer position.
If your bottom hand is on the floor, push your leg out against your arm and turn your chest more towards the ceiling. Then reach your other arm up (see below). After a few breaths here, step back to downward facing dog and repeat on the other side.