The Happy Back Show Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 10

Twisty Relief

15 min - Practice


Twisting can put the most load on the spine, especially when combined with a forward fold. It's this movement in the daily life—picking up a child, reaching into the back seat of the car, or turning to flush the toilet—that so many of us throw out our backs. This chair sequence acts as prevention to these types of injuries, encouraging us to find strength and stability in the spine.
What You'll Need: Chair

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This sequence is designed more as a preventative than maybe relief. Twists tend to put the most load on the disks of the spine, and when combined with forward folds, you get an excessive amount of load on the spine. Which is why many of us end up quote, unquote, "throwing our back out" or hurting ourselves when we're twisting and forward folding. Now, that can make us think that we should avoid twist and forward fold but if you pay close attention to the modern life, that's impossible. So this might now be one you do if you're already hurting, but this is one maybe to start to add in to your program so that next time you reach over to pick up your grandchild, or reach in to the back of the car to find something, or even something as simple as flushing the toilet, you don't throw your back out.

So find yourself a firm chair, like not a squishy swively chair or your couch. Sit up on the end of it. Bring your heels underneath your knees, and we'll start slowly. Hands on the legs, inhale, and as you exhale, hold on to the knees. Let the sit bones draw under and round your back.

And as you inhale, roll you pelvis forward and let your heart lift. Okey dokey, exhale, curl the sit bones under and round your back. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward, let your heart lift. Okay, three more like this. Exhale, round, stretching the back body.

Inhale, arch, opening the front body. Nice, two more. Get into it. Exhale, hold on and round. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward, arch.

Excellent, one more. Exhale, get round. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward and arch. Next time you exhale, come back to neutral. Bring your hands to your lower back, fingers pointing down, palms against as low as feels good on you.

Now from here, gently see if you can sense lengthening through your left thigh as your right hip draws back. And then lengthen through your right knee as your left hip draws back. Exaggerate this, draw the right hip back, left knee forward. Draw the left hip back, right knee forward. Is that working?

Couple more times. Lengthen through the left side, draw the right hip back. Lengthen through the right knee, draw the left hip back. Just do this a few more times. What we're trying to get a sense of is how we might start to initiate twisting from our legs and our lower back.

Okay. Beautiful. Come back in to neutral, okay. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward. Exhale, roll the pelvis back.

Inhale, let yourself come back to neutral. And let's explore the movement in the shoulders. We call this flossing usually. So let your right arm extend out, let the right elbow bend. As you exhale, can get a sense of rolling your shoulder forward?

We explored this in the anatomy of the breath episode. As you inhale, roll your shoulder blade back and down, let the elbow drop under. Do that again. Exhale, roll the shoulder forward, even let your back round. As you inhale, roll the shoulder back and down, let your elbow draw under.

Okay, one more time. Exhale, get round. Usually we call that swamp monster. Inhale, hallelujah. Shoulder rolls back and down, elbow draws under.

Beautiful, relax that arm. Other side, left arm lifts, elbow bent. Exhale, round the back, roll the shoulder forward. Inhale, roll the shoulder back and down, elbow draws under. Nice.

Exhale, get round. Inhale, roll the shoulder back and down, elbow draws under. Really nice, one more. Exhale, get round. Inhale, roll the shoulder back, elbow draws under.

And then relax. Super nice. Inhale, squeeze your shoulders up and around the ears. Exhale, drop. Inhale, roll the shoulders back and up around your ears.

And exhale, drop. Nice. Now we have the three primary elements we need to start to explore twists that are simultaneously strengthening and lengthening. Okey dokey, so step one. Inhale, your arms up over the top of your head.

And then exhale, let the elbows bend until you find hallelujah on both sides. So the shoulders are rolling back and down, and the elbows are drawing under. My pelvis is rolling a little bit forward as I get a lift through the shoulders. Now my pelvis is rolling a little bit too much forward, so I'm gonna let a slight (exhales) happen and relax your back to neutral. Next step, we're gonna be twisting to the left.

I'm gonna start to stretch forward through that right leg. Okay, so I'm sending the right thigh forward, right knee forward as I pull the left hip back. Pause. Now inhale. Feel your ability to lengthen and lift.

And as you exhale, naval back to your spine, send the right leg forward and twist. Elbows draw under. It's a lot, I know. One more breath. Inhale, lengthen, lift up a little bit, send the right knee forward, pull the left hip back.

Naval back to your spine and twist. Beautiful. Inhale here. As you exhale, start to draw the right leg back. So start to draw the right knee back.

Send the left hip forward, let yourself unwind. And then relax your arms back down along your side. Whew, inhale. Squeeze your shoulders up around your ears. Exhale, drop.

Inhale, roll your shoulders up around your ears. Exhale and drop. Really nice. Pause and just kinda like wait, because while it's difficult, you'll kinda know you were in the right alignment of yourself if it also feels vitalizing. Okey dokey.

Alright, other side. Inhale, arms up. Exhale, elbows come wide. Draw the shoulder blades back and down as elbows come up. Feel this altar for the heart.

That tends to pull the pelvis a little bit forward. Let it happen so you can feel it. And then let a (exhales) happen as you relax your sit bones a little bit, and let the low back fill out again. Okey dokey. Inhale here and as you exhale, start to stretch forward through the left knee.

So you're lengthening the left thigh forward and you're pulling the right hip back. And you're starting to twist to the right. Now pause before you go much more further. Inhale, feel the shoulder blades draw under. Lift up a little bit.

And as you exhale, pull that right hip back. Send the left knee forward, naval is drawing back towards the right side of your spine. Yes. Okay, only one more breath here. Inhale, feel the lift.

Exhale, maybe twisting a little bit more. Really maintain that extension. So nice. Beautiful, inhale here, and as you exhale, you're gonna send the right knee forward. You're gonna pull the left knee back.

You're gonna unwind back to center. And you're gonna relax your arms back down. Inhale, squeeze your shoulders up and around the ears. Exhale, drop. Inhale, roll the shoulders up and around the ears.

Exhale, drop. Hands on that front knee, front knees. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward. Exhale, get round. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward.

Exhale, get round. Beautiful, inhale back to center. Okay, now that's that. We were doing that twist wit the pelvis rolled forward. Now we've got to explore the twist with the pelvis rolled under.

Now this is one of those moves that if you're already working with herniation in your disks, generally it's considered like, no. But again, this is more of a preventative exercise, because this is one of the things that life demands. So here it goes. Again the play is, instead of arching the pelvis, we'll be playing with rounding the pelvis. We'll still be playing with the knees.

Instead of the hallelujah, we'll be playing with the swamp. Okay, both hands start on the front of the knees. Inhale. Exhale, let a little bit of a (exhales) happen. Let your spine round.

Step one. Inhale here. And as you exhale, step two, send the left knee forward as the right hip starts to pull back. You're starting to move in to the twist. Pause.

Now, just like feel the rounding in your back and breathe here. And for some of you, this might be enough pressure and enough torque. Rounding the back. Offering this little bit of twist with the left knee reaching forward and the right hip pulling back. To enhance the opportunity, let the right elbow start to lift up and round more in the back.

Okay. Let a (exhales) happen. I know it's pretty funny-lookin'. The swamp monster chair twist. Breathe.

Beautiful. To get out of there, let the right hand find our way back to the leg. Let an inhale start to send the right knee forward as you kinda roll the pelvis forward. And let your heart lift. And pause.

And usually when you come out of that, there can often be this sweet, euphoric feeling 'cause it's not a place we work much. Okey dokey, other side. Inhale here. Exhale, let a (exhales) happen and get round. Curl the sit bone under.

Hold on to the knees. Some of you might choose to just stay here. Some of you are gonna inhale here and as you exhale, you're gonna start to send the right knee forward. And you're gonna start to pull the left hip back. So you're in a twist now.

Okay, you're in a twist and you're loaded 'cause you're rounding. So for some of you, staying right here and feeling the left lung open and get big is where it's at. That might be enough. But for some of you, you're gonna start to let the left elbow lift. Its like puppet master style swamp monster.

You get round in there. Okay, you're intentionally loading that a little bit because you're strengthening this moment, which happens in the real life. Beautiful, last few moments. Okay, when you've had enough, you put this hand back down on that left leg. On an inhale, you're gonna start to send this left knee forward slowly.

You're gonna roll the pelvis forward. And you're gonna let your heart lift. And pause because if it was the correct thing for you, there's often this like, sort of a, it's a form of yoga fracking. There's all this juice available. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward.

Exhale, hold on and get round. Inhale, roll the pelvis forward. Exhale and get round. Super nice. Inhale, come back to neutral.

Widen the feet and we'll start to fold forward. Right here, you'll let the elbows come down on to the knees and this might be the spot. Careful that you don't tip so forward that your chair comes up. And then slow, let your hands come on down your legs and fold over. Head might drop if that's okay for you.

Beautiful. Hands on the legs, chin in to the chest. Roll and round back up. Belly and the heart and the throat and the face. Nice.

When you're ready, we'll come to standing. Place your feet underneath your knees. Lean forward so you're leaning your way forward. You use your hands on your knees and you press on up. Spread the toes, inhale.

And as you exhale, let a (exhales) happen and soften the knees. Inhale, feel that length. Exhale, soften. Beautiful. Nice work.

If you feel a sense of vitality, if you feel a sense of life in the spine, if you feel a sense of like strength and capacity, then we know we're on the right track. Now start to weave this a little bit in to your daily, weekly practice. Whatever it is that's working for you. Love.


Sandra Židan
Nice practice, Kira! Thanks!

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