The theme for this month is Spring Cleaning, and as the sun begins to make a more frequent (and very welcome) appearance, I feel a natural urge to dust out dark corners and lighten the load, both in my home and in my body. I yearn for open windows and a fresh circulation of spring air around my home, in the same way that my body longs to feel light and energetic and well looked after.
There is no yoga pose as effective for detoxification and waste elimination than a twist. In this version of Ardha Matsyendrasana/ Seated Spinal Twist we stimulate first the ascending, and then the descending colon, which stimulates digestion and enhances the detoxification process.
When we twist, we partially restrict the flow of blood to the abdominal area and internal organs, meaning that when we unwind ourselves, the area is flooded with fresh oxygenated blood and toxins are pushed out.
Ardha Matsyendrasna can help you to feel lighter and taller, and can facilitate a more intimate and compassionate relationship with your midsection as your awareness is brought to that area while in the pose. This can help you to make choices that are based on increasing wellbeing and optimal bodily function, rather than on reflex driven bad habits that can clog our systems and play havoc with the emotions.
- Warm up with several rounds of Sun Salutations
- Bring yourself to kneeling, sitting bones on the heels
- Sit down to the left.
- Bring the right leg over the left and place the sole of the right foot on the floor outside, and in line with, the left knee.
- Make sure both sit bones are on the floor. If you find yourself tilting over to one side, then straighten the bottom leg as a modification (fig.1)
- Use the right hand as a prop behind you to keep the spine nice and tall.
- Inhale: feel the crown of the head lift towards the ceiling
- Exhale: draw the belly button back towards the spine, and keeping the lower back stable with the hips facing forwards, twist from the mid-upper body round to the right. Either hug the right knee in towards the abdomen with the left arm, or place the left elbow on the outside edge of the right knee.
- Close the eyes and spend 5-10 breaths here. On every inhale; find length in the spine by sitting up tall even if this means backing out of the twist a little. On every exhale; increase the twist (without compromising the lower back or losing length).
- As well as the palpable physical effects of the twist, try and see every exhalation as an opportunity to also release mental and emotional baggage.
- Unwind very slowly, being mindful of the spine, and then repeat the twist in the other direction.
By Jasmine Pradhan from stretchandthecity.co.uk
Jasmine teaches Hatha yoga (sometimes dynamic, sometimes slower) with an open heart and an open mind. She believes that every individual already has the tools they need to achieve true happiness and wellbeing, and that sometimes they just need a little help discovering them. She truly believes that a dedicated yoga practice can be the key to that toolbox, and aims to facilitate that discovery for her students.
Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any new physical activity. Always practice under the supervision of a qualified teacher.