When we are in a backbending pose we use not just the lower back, but our entire spine: the neck, upper back, lower back and tailbone.
If the spine isn't warmed up, or the muscles around it aren't strong enough, entering backbend poses will be painful, difficult and possibly cause injuries.
The second time in the practice where twists play an important role is after the backbend practice, where they help neutralize the spine.
But, there is always an in-between.
In this post I listed 5 fun and creative twists you can incorporate in your practice - when you open the shoulders, in hip opening, while you're upside down or trying a new arm balance, and finally in a backbend.
So let the twisting begin!
Lying Down Compass
Start by sitting down with the left leg open to
the side and right leg in a squatting position next to you, and hold the right leg with the left hand, or even place it next to your ankle.
Lower the upper body toward the left
leg and with the right arm over the
head hold the left leg wherever it reaches.
If it doesn't reach you can place the
loop of the strap around the left foot or
keep the hand hanging in the air.
Now using the outer levers
(right and left hand against the legs/strap), start twisting the upper body toward the ceiling.
If the chest still faces the floor -
raise the right hand a little to give you
more space to twist.
Repeat on the other side.
Twist in Dandasana
This is a seated twisted which also prepares you to Grasshopper pose (arm balance).
Sit straight with both feet on the mat, legs bent and place the right foot on top of the left knee, keeping the foot flexed.
Take both hands behind you and place them on the mat with the fingers facing the front, and lean on them so that the back is straight and elongated.
Raise the right arm up high and lower it down so that the outside of the right armpit will connect to the foot.
With every inhale - elongate the upper body, and with every exhale twist a little more, using the leverage of your legs.
Twist in Headstand with Lotus/Legs Together
Tripod headstand was one of the first headstand variations that were available
to me, as it gave me the best base to lift up.
Starting from tripod headstand, you can either go to Lotus if it's in your practice, or just join the legs, knees and feet touching.
From here pull in the lower stomach and start twisting in one direction
with the legs.
Once you can't twist anymore suck in the lower belly, engage your entire core and pull the legs to it as much as you can (this is the main trick in this pose) and start lowering to one side.
This is a very intense twist so you don't have to go down all the way to the upper arm.
Twist in a an Arm Balance - One Legged Arm Balance or Eka Pada Koundinyasana
In this arm balance we move through pulling everything tight together to opening up every direction.
We will begin with right leg forward in Warrior II, both hands on the ground on the inside of the foot.
From there take the right arm under the right leg and place the hand on the outside of the leg, tucking the shoulder deeply under the knee.
Hug both elbows in, core strong and start leaning forward, your gaze turning to the right - this is the big key to unlock this pose.
Straighten the right leg and lean even more forward until the left foot is off the ground, all the while twisting a little to the right.
Twist in a Backbend - Mermaid in Pigeon
I find this variation interesting because it's not just a backbend pose, but also a twist, hip opener and a shoulder opener.
Be sure to warm your back and stretch the quads before trying this pose.
From seating in One Legged King Pigeon with the right leg in front of you, raise the left foot, hold it with the left hand and stretch it out to the back a little to begin with.
Bring the foot closer to you now and switch the hold of the foot from the left hand to the right, so it could keep the foot in place.
Slide the left hand under the foot so it can stay either in the armpit, upper hand or elbow crease and twist your upper body slowly to the left.
Hi there, Ariel!
For more twists and backbend tips you can check out my eBook
Love of Backbends here
Have a beautiful day,