Yoga for stress relief, tight hips,
and tired back muscles
Gentle movement of your hip flexors and back muscles,
supported by the floor.
This yoga-for-stress relieving twist can ease tension and soothe fatigue. If you have back pain be sure to first ask your doctor whether you should do any sort of twisting movement.
Every body is different
Every person’s “geometry” is different. Some people are taller than other people, but even people who are the same height have different lengths of legs and torso from each other.
Everyone’s bones are shaped differently as well. The femur (the long bone of the thigh) for example, is curved differently in each of us, which means among other things that our legs join up to and extend from our hips at different angles.
Improving range of motion
One reason we get frustrated or even injured in various practices and sports is not understanding our own individual range of motion. Though range of motion changes with movement (or lack of it!) over time, even at an optimum flexibility, the healthy activity of each body is highly idiosyncratic. Movement and the shape of postures are intimately, seamlessly related to your whole life, everything you do and how long you’ve been doing it, as well as where and what you were “born with”.
By beginning practice with this relaxed supine twist, we take the time to reconnect to sensation. The back is fully supported as we explore the difference between tight muscles, the range of motion of a joint, and our ability to stay present as we move: all foundational skills of practicing yoga asana.
Practice Tip There should be no discomfort in this movement. Change the position of your hands on your forearms for example. Holding your elbows then switch and hold on closer to your wrists. Notice the effect on your shoulders as you move side to side.
Try changing the position of your feet. Move gently as you experiment with how far apart your feet are and how much you knees are bent. Notice the change to sensation in the hips, sacrum and low back and choose the placement that offers you the most release of tension and the most comfortable twist of the spine.
Text of the Video Do this full twist of your spine in a relaxed way, with breath and awareness.
Lie on your back and bend your knees a little. Put your feet on the floor wider than your yoga mat and not too close to you. Let both of your knees fall to the left, then switch and let both knees fall to the right.
Take hold of your forearms or wrists and let your arms fall side-to-side above your chest the opposite direction of your knees.
In other words, as your knees fall left, take your arms to the right, and as your knees go right, let your arms fall to the left. Allow your head move if that feels good, but be easy not forceful with your neck.
As you finish, stretch out, and lie still for a few breaths. Reconnect to your intention to stay present and let go of thinking about other things. Close your eyes in pratyahara, looking inward to feel and observe the movement of energy and sensation in your body.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.