"Twist and shout! Come on Come on Baby now, work it on out."
I am sure you are familiar with that song which transcends the sixties. As I made my way to class yesterday that was playing in my mind and with good reason. Fall is a time of year when a lot is happening; seasonal temperature changes, lots to get done and even our diet changes with the change in what is in the produce isle at the grocery store. If you are a student, then this is also a time when you need to assimilate all those classes and readings in preparation for midterms.
Twists. What you need to know:
1) The action of squeezing the torso as one rotates from the navel puts a compression action on the organs of the digestive system and will stimulate their action, building the digestive fire - agni. Agni is essential for transformation of food and experiences. Feeling a little overwhelmed? a twist practice just may help.
2) The spine is of major concern when twisting, since we are rotating the vertebrae - thus it is essential to begin with some extensions or laterals, opening the space between the vertebrae.
3) In standing poses, pelvis is not fixed, giving us the freedom to safely warm up to the deeper twists where the hips have less freedom to move like in Ardha Matsyendrasana.
4) Contraindications are any spine injuries.
5) According to Ayurveda, twists are helpful in reducing pitta and vata - perfect for fall.
Twists have a balancing affect. As we move through seasonal change and the hurried pace of fall, twists are essential to helping us to find the balance we need.