Chair Yoga Practice: 5 Benefits of Twisting the Spine, and How Chair Yoga Makes it More Accessible

Let’s face it, when we have a little extra cushion in our midsection the last thing we want to hear the teacher cue during a yoga practice is, “Now let’s take the posture into a twist.” For the five benefits that come with twisting in yoga postures it doesn’t change the fact that it’s challenging when we have a thicker mid-drift. One thing that I have discovered with Chair Yoga is that twisting is more accessible when we can keep our bodies elevated for support and that’s a win everyday in my yoga practice book!

Say no to neck pain!

Before you begin exploring this chair yoga practice and seeing how the chair helps to make the twisting action more accessible. Let’s discuss how and why you should be twisting your spine on a regular basis. Take a moment and think about all the ways you move your spine throughout your day. What did you come up with? If I had to assume not to many directions other than sitting up right, maybe looking over the shoulder from time to time, and bending over or reaching up on occasion to grab and item, no? The reality is unless we are intentional about moving our spine it rarely gets moved in all the directions that it can move, because our lives aren’t designed for excessive spinal movement on a daily basis.

So why is twisting so important in the first place? Welp, I like to think of it as use it or lose, and that’s why it’s important to be intentional about our spine’s mobility. A consistent yoga practice can make that possible without you even having to think about it, which is a bonus! The action of twisting can lengthen and decompress muscles and joints while releasing pressure in a given area, but twisting isn’t ideal for an injury. Keep that in mind when moving your body. Now let’s get to the benefits!

Improved Spinal Rotation

Within a twist the side body is getting a stretch on one side, with the decompressing action on the opposite side. When we go into this action with intention and breath it’s very much like performing a side body crunch, as well as releasing tension in the lower back area. When you access rotation in an upright position the benefits are gained without the compression of the abdomen making it challenging to breathe deeply.

Increased Flexibility of the Spinal Muscles

Think of this as Pandora’s box. As more flexibility becomes available in the side body, and lower back you’ll discover overtime that more full range movements are available to the entire torso, which also help to improve overall core strength.

Better Spinal Alignment

If we’re intentional with how we perform an activity there will be a specific and desired outcome, no? If we move our spine in new positions consistently, eventually we’ll be able realign our spine in way’s that are beneficial to our overall health and sense of well-being. Take a moment a access my Mindful Minute for Improved Posture and you’ll be able access a quick movement to help with neck alignment too.

Improved Blood Flow to Muscles and Organs

Have you ever been out watering your garden and the water goes from full force to a small trickle? After some investigating you discover a kink in the hose and once it’s removed your gardening task are back in business. This is the imagery I share when thinking of the twisting action and its immediate benefits. The twist restricts blood flow. Deep breathing during the twist creates oxygenated blood that has ample nutrients for the body. Once the twist is released all of the impacted areas of the body that were compressed receive the nutrient dense blood flow, bringing improved vitality to the body in an instant!

Decreased Stress

With the support of chair during a twist the worry of falling over in a posture is pretty much removed from the mindset. This allows all of the attention to be focused on the rising and falling action of the breath. Practice keeping the breaths even with a pause at the top and a pause at the bottom of the breath cycle. With every breath envision the entire torso expanding on the inhale and simply falling back to the spine on the exhale. This attention to detail helps to calm and lower the heart rate creating a sense of calm almost instantly.

Now that you know the benefits of twisting it’s time to go create those benefits for yourself. You’ll need a stable chair, and some yoga blocks if you have them. Push play and enjoy this exploration of the spine seated yoga practice created with you in mind!