Here’s my latest article for the Stanly News and Press:
Any kind of twist in Yoga wrings out the internal organs to release toxins from the body. Twists also keep the spine loose and can ease back pain. Twisting too suddenly or deeply in an everyday activity can cause lasting back injuries, so it is very important to take some kind of twist each day as a part of your Yoga practice.
Chair Twist, or Parivrtta Utkatasana, is one of the more difficult twisting poses, so be sure to begin with modifications before working into deeper expressions of the pose.
To practice Chair Twist, bring your big toes together and bend your knees while leaning back over your heels with your weight. To move gradually into the pose, begin by resting your left elbow in the crook between the thighs and placing the right hand on top of the left in Namaste, or prayer hands. As you twist to your right, you can take your gaze up over your right shoulder or you can let your gaze fall to the floor to relax your neck.
As you feel your body ready to deepen in the posture, you can take your left elbow onto the outside of your right leg. Be sure to lengthen your spine nice and long to allow more space for the spine to twist. Often the left knee will slide forward because the hips are no longer square, so check your knees and pull the left knee back in line with the right.
As another option, you can make a fist with your right hand and press your fist into your left palm for more leverage through your arm strength. If you spine is quite flexible, you can take the left fingers down to the floor on the outside of the right foot and lift your right hand up to the ceiling in scissor arms.
Most people have a tendency to let the belly go when bending down, so engage Uddiyana Bandha by lifting the belly in and up to protect the back.
Hold this pose for five to seven long, slow breaths in and out through your nose and then repeat on the other side. When you have finished, notice how your spine feels and imagine you are cleansed from deep inside.