Getting back into an autumn routine can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and it’s natural to start moving towards lots of juicy twists in your yoga practice – twists help calm the system down, release tension and help the body to adjust to the change in season. They also stoke your internal generator so help you stay warm when there is a nip in the air. In fact, there are dozens of benefits to be gained from twisting but here’s the top 10.
Twists penetrate deep into the body, stimulating the organs of the abdominal region. One of the most important organs which benefits from twists is the digestive system, also known as the enteric nervous system, or the ‘second brain’. Twists stimulate maximum nutrition absorption, and distribution throughout the body.
The digestive system is happiest when it’s kept regular, constipation can leave you feeling sluggish and bloated. Twists wake the digestive system up and gently squeeze it to help keep everything moving. When practising twists turn to the right first to stimulate the ascending colon, then twist to the left to stimulate the descending colon.
Twists temporarily constrict blood flow in the bowel, liver and kidneys. In releasing the twist a fresh surge rushes back bringing with it oxygenated blood and flushing out unwanted toxins.
Your metabolism is the rate at which your body process matter to create energy. Twists boost the metabolism by aiding good digestion. The metabolism also functions best in a stress-free environment – twists soothe physical and emotional tension in the body through triggering the parasympathetic nervous system.
Increases Immune System
A healthy immune system starts in your gut as 80% of our immune system is generated there, it makes sense that twists are a very powerful tool for a strong immune system. Along with the digestive system, twists also stimulate the circulatory, the nervous and the endocrine systems which all have an important part to play in building the immune system.
Good circulation brings oxygen and nutrients to the whole body. Sitting at a desk all day is one of the main culprits of poor circulation. Yoga, twists in particular, increase your circulation with the added benefit of adding a healthy glow to your complexion after your practice.
The increased circulation, through twists, of oxygenated blood to the brain gives you a fresh boost of energy. They also stir up your internal prana (life energy) and increase energy flow throughout the whole body.
Eases Stress & Anxiety
A healthy gut has a strong link to our moods and emotional well-being. Stress leads to gut issues and similarly gut issues lead to stress. As 95% of serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in the bowel, stimulating the gut through twists release these happy hormones into the system.
Balances the Nervous System
The sympathetic system (fight and flight) is in constant alert in our busy lives. Sometimes we may need a bit of fight & flight, but most of the time it’s a result of our brain being overwhelmed and making impulsive decisions. Slowing down and taking some deep breaths in your twists rewires the brain to pause before it reacts, triggering the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digestion).
Improves Spinal Health
Last but not least, twists help maintain a healthy spine by wringing out and lubricating the connective tissue keeping them strong and supple. They stretch, strengthen and release tension from all the muscles of the spine.
Ruth Delahunty is a 200hr Yoga Alliance certified teacher and founder of Yogaru.ie, a yoga lifestyle website that promotes a yoga way of living both on and off the mat. For more information visit yogaru.ie