Top 5 Twists Your Body Needs

Reminder- You can perform each stretch statically, dynamically, and isometrically. Variety is key in functional fitness, so make sure you employ a variety of different ways in which you hold and perform each stretch. Although these are some of the best twists available, there are many more that you should also employ. Static holds are best held for a minimum of 30 seconds, and remember to breathe and listen to your body first and foremost. Always consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program.

1. Standing Twist (Katichakrasana)

Stand up tall, extend your arms out to the sides of the room, either bent or straight (do both and mix it up) and then twist side to side at a healthy pace while remembering to breathe. Make sure to vary the pace of your twisting, the level at which you hold your arms and the degree of elbow bend. Variety is key to encourage a thorough release through all of the spinal muscles.

2.  Twisted Lunge (parivrtta anjaneyasana)

Stagger the feet front to back into a lunge, and bend into the front leg until the knee reaches 90 degrees. The back leg can remain straight, or you can bend the knee down to the earth. Once here, bend the elbow of the arm opposite the front leg and cross it over the thigh, twisting the torso to one side. For example, if your right leg is in front, your left elbow will cross over your right thigh. Once here, breathe into the twist and stay relaxed as you enjoy the twist. To go deeper, bring the palms to touch and press them firmly together, or you may reach the hand of the opposite arm towards the earth on the outside of the leg, and the other hand to the sky. For some, a bind may even be available.

3. Twisted Goddess (Parivrtta Utkata Konasana)

Find a goddess or horse stance by stepping your feet a few feet apart and turning your toes away from each other towards the sides of the room. Squat down, bending the knees towards 90 degrees while keeping the torso upright. Take your hands to each knee, and then drop a shoulder in towards the midline of the body while looking towards the shoulder that was not dropped in. Inhale back to center, then exhale into the other side by dropping the other shoulder in and looking into the twist moving the other direction.

4. Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Find a seat, with your legs extended in front of you. Hug one knee into your chest, then step the foot of that leg across the thigh of the extended leg. Once here, pull your belly across the thigh, and hook the elbow of the opposite arm across the thigh to anchor the torso in place. Place the hand of the same side as the crossed over leg onto the earth behind you and breathe into the twist. For those looking to go deeper, feel free to bend the knee of the extended leg, hooking the foot next to the glute, while some practitioners may even go for a bind.

5. Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Lay on your back and hug either one or both knees into the chest. Once here, drop the knee or knees to one side into a gentle spinal twist. Attempt to keep the shoulders on the mat, rather than allowing them to lift. Try different variations of the many supine spinal twists to see what works best for you. And remember, breathe and be.

Enjoy these fantastic twists,

-Andrew Morris