Tweak The Twists In Your Yoga Practice

Tweak the Twists in Your Yoga Practice

padmasana

TWEAK THE TWISTS IN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

The definition of “tweak” here is the following: to improve (a mechanism or system) by making fine adjustments to it.

This perfectly describes a major part of what’s involved in the school of Chromatic yoga—it’s the fine adjustments related to the biomechanics of each posture that create a massive impact and transformative experience in our yoga practice. When we pay attention to each adjustment and learn to integrate it in a way that develops our intentions with a particular posture, we reap the benefits of expanding our potential. In Chromatic yoga, Matt shows us how to sequence yoga practices in a way that integrates knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics, and technique.

The postures and drills in today’s video show us how to properly co-activate the right muscle groups in order to maximize the benefits of twists through what Matt calls the “fire line.”  

 

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WHAT IS THE FIRE LINE?

There are 5 elements in yoga philosophy. Referred to as mahabhutas, they are the following:

  1. Earth
  2. Water
  3. Fire
  4. Air
  5. Space

Each element carries its own unique qualities, which go beyond the physical. Our focus today is on the element of Fire in a physical sense, but we can see how the qualities also lend themselves to our mental and spiritual development. Here are some of the qualities that represent Fire:

  1. Transformation
  2. Motivation
  3. Power
  4. Energy
  5. Presence

When it comes to the physical, Matt has developed a system that allows us to coordinate specific actions within specific muscle groups at the right time. The “fire line” refers to the coactivation of the “diagonal core line.” It creates a domino effect with these steps:

  1. Protraction of the scapulae (activating serratus anterior)
  2. Spinal flexion, then layering on spinal rotation (igniting the external obliques on one side and the internal obliques on the opposite side) 
  3. Flexion of the opposite hip (iliopsoas)

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TWEAK THE TWISTS IN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE: CHROMATIC YOGA FIRE LINE EXPLAINED

CREATE THE CONNECTION

When it comes to twists in our yoga practice, it may sometimes feel easy to default to a more “relaxed” approach. What we learn from today’s video is the importance of timing and the coactivation of specific muscles that support strengthening the core for better twists. In the fire line, it’s all about cultivating power and front-body strength in the midline.

In order to begin understanding how to create the connection between twists and the appropriate muscles, we first see the following postures in the video:

  1. Revolved Crescent Lunge
  2. Revolved Crescent Lunge with Open Arms
  3. 2 variations of Revolved Chair

We start by creating connections through the actions of protracting the scapulae, spinal flexion, and rotation—the ability to move the upper body as a unit, rather than just moving or reaching with our arms.

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DEVELOP THE TWIST TECHNIQUE

How do we further develop the technique for twists? Well, in the video, when Matt demonstrates Revolved Low Lunge, he emphasizes “flexing” our way down, rather than just falling with gravity. He stresses how we’re essentially resisting “the fall” by pulling the rib cage back to maintain the spinal flexion as we rotate.

The last piece of the puzzle regarding the fire line is hip flexion. As we move toward Boat Pose and “sock drills” in the video, we actually practice reversing the coactivation steps. The steps of muscle activation become the following in the sock drills:

  1. hip flexors
  2. internal obliques
  3. external obliques
  4. serratus anterior

The reversal of the steps amplifies our body’s ability to respond to the actions we’re asking it to perform.

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AN ARM BALANCE WITH A TWIST

After masterful sequencing and the activation of the core, we can work towards an arm balance with a twist, like Side Crow. Again, instead of resting the hip and outer thighs on both arms, we can utilize the activations in the fire line to balance and rest on the triceps of one arm. This ability then becomes transferable to other arm balances.  

The techniques involved in these postures and drills create a stronger foundation and functional ability in our bodies overall, and this only scratches the surface of the fire line, not to mention the other elements.

Matt’s upcoming 30-hour hybrid immersion, Elements of Mastery, offers a unique opportunity to practice and learn both online and in person with Chromatic Yoga creator, Matt Giordano. This training will dive into all of the elements while immersing you in the studies of anatomy, biomechanics, and technique with a nondogmatic approach.

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Breath Of Fire Immersion

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Spinal Freedom In Revolved Low Lunge

Spinal Freedom in Revolved Low Lunge

5-Part Twist Technique

anjaneyasana

REVOLVED LOW LUNGE TECHNIQUE

You’re going to multiply the benefits of twisting postures with this 5-part twist technique. There are already benefits you may knowingly and/or unknowingly receive from incorporating twist postures into your asana practice, but this is going to take it to a new level. This technique is going to show you how you can strengthen your body and be more intentional about how you execute twist postures. In today’s video, Matt breaks down this technique in Revolved Low Lunge. The technique can be applied to other twisting postures in your yoga practice, but Revolved Low Lunge is a great way to explore the technique with a solid base.

TWISTS & FOLDS

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THE BENEFITS OF TWIST POSTURES

So, what are some of the benefits of twist postures? At the most basic level, there’s nothing like the “feel good” sensation they provide. Twist postures are often a nice go-to when you are experiencing tension in your back. It’s almost an intuitive response of the body to twist when we want to “get the kinks out,” so to speak. Twists also play a role in increased circulation and mobility. “Twists do affect our mobility (movement of organs in relation to each other) and our motility (movement within an organ),” which also promotes increased circulation. This is not to say that no other factors are involved, but there is a contribution. Twists are an important part of creating a more balanced asana practice.

Kaminoff, Leslie & Matthews, Amy. Yoga Anatomy, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL 2012

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SPINAL FREEDOM: 5-PART TWIST TECHNIQUE

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SPINAL HEALTH & FREEDOM

“The spine is literally the ‘core’ of the body. It is the deepest, most centrally located structure.” David Keil, in Functional Anatomy of Yoga, goes on to explain that there is a variety of structures in the body that are directly and indirectly attached to the spine. This delineates the importance and weight that the spine carries in your body.  

In order to experience “spinal freedom,” you must have a level of both strength and fluidity in the spine. Your experience on your yoga mat always depends on your intention regarding a particular pose and/or practice. It also depends on what you know about your body. In regard to twists and the 5-part technique he utilizes in Revolved Low Lunge, Matt talks about this approach to the technique. You’ll see in the video (and read in the breakdown) that there are several muscle activations that take place. These activations can be executed to suit your body’s individual needs. Matt details that if you are hypermobile, which he talks about in the full video from which today’s clip is extracted (see below), it may be more appropriate to hold onto each activation as you continue up the ladder of steps. This will help to create more stability. If the opposite is true, then you may perform the activations one at a time, because implementing the activations one at a time helps create more movement. Whether your intention is to stabilize or to create more movement, both are necessary in order to maintain spinal health. 

Keil, David. Functional Anatomy of Yoga: A Guide to Practitioners and Teachers, Lotus Publishing, Chichester, England. 2014

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MOVEMENTS OF THE SPINE

Within this twist technique, there is so much more than rotation in order to increase your body’s potential. The technique, demonstrated in Revolved Low Lunge, shows you how to create movement with the strength of the rotators of the spine and the abdominal muscles. Instead of relying on a more passive execution, using the strength and push of the rear deltoids and triceps to deepen the twist, this technique provides an opportunity to create more strength and integrity so as to support spinal stability and freedom of movement. You’ll see in Matt’s demonstration that multiple movements of the spine are implemented in order to fulfill the technique. You’ll also see a degree of axial extension (lifting and lengthening in order to activate the transversus abdominis); spinal flexion (to initiate the twist); a degree of lateral flexion on each side of the body; and lastly, spinal extension in order to create the backbend within the twist. Exploring all of these movements of the spine supports the ambition to create stability, strength, flexibility, and mobility. Let’s break down the steps of this technique in Revolved Low Lunge.

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5-PART TWIST TECHNIQUE

In truth, the technique can probably be broken down into 4 parts, but there’s no getting stronger or going deeper in any yoga posture without setting a foundation and becoming more aware of your breath within each step.

In the video, Matt goes through the steps multiple times to offer a focus on the technique itself, the muscle activations taking place, and the breath-pairing alongside the technique.

Steps in Revolved Low Lunge

(Left foot forward)

  1. Set the foundation—pull your knees together and pull your belly up
  2. Round the upper back and twist
  3. Side bend up to the sky (left waistline shortens)
  4. *Pause and wait, breath in, then side bend back towards the thigh (close the gap—right waistline shortens)
  5. Backbend (with option to open the arms)

Breath-Pairing Steps

  1. Take a breath in and pull the belly in and up as in Cobra; as you exhale, round the upper back and initiate the twist
  2. Inhale, side bend the left ribs up to the sky (you can also hold the side bend for some of the twist)
  3. Inhale in the side bend; on the exhale, the right-side body gets short, so side bend towards the ground
  4. Inhale backbend
  5. Twist more on the exhale

REQUIRE MORE FROM YOUR TWISTS

Approaching twists in this way offers you the opportunity to be in more control of your body, both on the mat and in your everyday functional movement and activities. Moving in this way creates more confidence. It may be more challenging to ask more from your body, but the payoff is extraordinary. Not only will you experience a deeper twist, but the sensations you are left with also reveal the strength and integrity you are creating in your body. The advantage of exploring this twist technique in Revolved Low Lunge is that you can remain closer to the ground, which removes the added balance element. You can safely delve into the technique and then later apply it to more complex twisting postures. Take the opportunity to dive deeper into the possibility of twists in Matt’s December 2022 immersion, Twists & Folds.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Spinal Awakening

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read more

TWISTS & FOLDS

TWISTS & FOLDS

  • Strengthen core muscles of rotation and side bends
  • Improve spinal mobility
  • Improve spinal flexion for seated postures
  • Strengthen your back and deep core
  • Access greater flexibility of the hips for seated postures
  • Classes will bring you to a sweat and back down to a relaxed state
  • 12 Classes: All levels appropriate
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all
  • Attend the livestream OR practice the replays any time that's convenient for you

$168.00 $138.00

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe, You Will Get Instant Access to

  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
  • exclusive online course discounts
  • exclusive blogs and videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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