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There are several variations on the seated twist (ardha matsyendrasana) but all of them have the benefit of engaging the entire spine, which promotes good circulation. Seated twists also stretch the shoulders and hips.
Start a seated twist by sitting in staff pose with your hands flat on the floor just behind your hips, and your fingers pointing forward. Lean back on your hands for support and bend the right knee, then cross the right leg over the left, placing the right foot flat on the floor on the outside of the left knee. Next, bend the left knee and draw the left foot in so the left foot lies next to the right hip. The left knee may lift off the floor if you have tight hips, but that's OK. Rotate your torso to the right and try to hook the left arm over the right knee, working to get the armpit as close to the knee as you can. Keep your spine tall and think about extending up through the crown of your head as you twist. Gaze straight ahead if you have neck issues. You can look over your right shoulder, but remember that the twist comes from the spine, not the neck.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|