If you’ve ever taken a yoga class before then you might have noticed that yoga incorporates twisting postures more than any other exercise routine that you’ve probably ever done. Not only are twisting postures necessary if you are using yoga for back pain relief, the benefits of twists in yoga go far deeper than you might think.
Benefits Of Twists In Yoga
Practicing twists is an area of yoga that is fundamental in virtually all yoga practices. Whether you are in a variation of Supine Spinal Twist while taking a restorative yoga class or an an advanced twisting posture like Revolved Half Moon Pose in a vinyasa yoga class, you will more than likely be twisting your body at some point during the class. Not only do twists help rehabilitate chronic back pain, but they are also crucial in preventing more pain in the future.
However, it is important to remember that if you are experiencing pain from an injury like overextension then twisting your muscles might not be the best thing for you. Since overextended muscles are torn differently depending on how you injured it, you should always listen to your body and not perform an exercise if you feel something tweak or twinge. Twisting poses are meant to lengthen and decompress your muscles and joints while releasing pressure so twisting an acute injury isn’t recommended.
1. Improved Spinal Rotation
Since the majority of people in today’s world work in a job that requires them to sit down for most of the day and don’t get as much exercise as they should, the muscles around their core have weakened and gotten tighter. Your core muscles include all of the muscles around the middle of your body, including your abdominal and lower back muscles.
When you practice twists in yoga you are stretching your oblique abdominal and lower back muscles which provides more range of motion for your spine. If your muscles are tight from inactivity then any sudden rotation of the spine, such as throwing a shovel full of snow over your shoulder, could cause serious injury to your back.
2. Increased Spinal Muscle Flexibility
As your oblique abdominal and lower back muscles begin to loosen up from practicing twisting yoga poses, you’ll start to notice that you are able to put your body into positions that you’ve never been in before. This increased flexibility allows you to get deeper into your core and work out kinks that have caused you chronic pain for years.
Ever since I started practicing yoga my flexibility in my entire body has increased dramatically, especially in my core. Because my core muscles continue to get stronger the more I practice I am able to support myself better while in advanced twisting postures without the assistance of a block or hand on the ground. Being able to almost defy gravity and open up your chest while twisting gives you the ability to pinpoint exactly where in your body is causing you pain and use a twist to work it out.
3. Improved Spinal Alignment
If you are at the beginning of your yoga journey then it is likely that you aren’t yet as strong as you would like to be or the pain that brought you to yoga is still there so moving into even the most basic twist could still cause you problems. From the very beginning, no matter how deep you are able to get into the pose, you are beginning to realign your spine as the pressure between your vertebrae is released and the connective tissue between the muscles and joints get stronger.
4. Increased Blood Flow To Muscles And Organs
As you twist you are stretching your muscles and compressing your internal organs which can throw off the regular flow of blood through your body. Constricting blood flow from your organs and then giving them fresh blood when you release your twist will increase their circulation and ability to function. Also, many twists require you to be at angles that cause your blood to drain from one side of your body to the other. Increasing the blood flow while your muscles are lengthened as you stretch increases the amount of nutrients that your muscles are getting and helps them heal faster.
5. Decreased Stress Levels
Twists can be some of the most difficult poses to do because of the the amount of strength, flexibility, and balance a lot of the postures require. Because you are so focused on not falling over or trying to maintain your body weight you forget about everything else that is going on in the room or your life. Since your focus is so set on your breath and not falling over, twisting postures help lower your heart rate when faced with stress or anxiety.
Practicing Yoga For Back Pain Relief
Combined with a regular yoga practice twists can be one of the best tools that you can use to dig deep in your body to help heal chronic back pain. In my case, I suffered from chronic low back pain for half of my life until I started practicing yoga consistently. Now when I practice twists I can actually feel the pain deep inside my lower back and am able to massage it out as I twist my body.
The only way that you are going to be able to find relief from the pain is if you finally take your doctor’s advice and commit to healing your body. It’s not going to happen overnight, and you’ll probably have to do it for the rest of your life, but the relief that you will feel will be worth it and you’ll be in the best shape of your life, both physically and mentally.
What benefits do you get from twisting yoga postures?
Stick With It!