Grounded Joy Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 9

Seated Twists: Meet Your Guts

40 min - Practice


Strengthen, elongate, and twist. Lydia guides us in an energizing twisting sequence, beginning with Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) with an invitation to play towards Handstand. We dial in the action of jumping back and through between seated twists, exploring variations of Parivritta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved-head-to-Knee Pose), Marichyasana 3 & 4, Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes), and more unusual shapes.
What You'll Need: Mat, Blanket

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(ocean waves) Welcome. This next little practice is gonna focus on twists. So meet me at the top of the mat. Big toes together. All other toes fanned wide, even your pinky toes, center your heel, hands at the front of the heart.

Let your thumbs rest on your sternum and sink your energy. My teacher Joya Erwin says, implode your energy into the earth. Like-- (quietly imitates explosion) And get well-grounded with a few breaths. Notice your breath. Can the feeling of the breath, the yogic breath, get you a little jazzed up to practice?

And then also release your day in your relaxing way. Exhale your hands to your sides. Inhale your arms up, just sliding through your arms. Exhale hands down by your sides. Let it be nice and smooth.

Inhale your arms up. Strong legs, exhale them down by your sides. Surya Namaskara A. Inhale your arms up. Exhale fold forwards.

Inhale, lengthen your spine. Exhale find your dog pose. Step, hop, or float back. Inhale into the Plank Pose. Exhale Chaturanga.

Knees come to the floor, tops of the feet on the floor, inhale into a knee Upward Dog. Exhale spinal roll back, rounding low back, mid back, upper back. Slide your hands in a little bit, shift your weight into your fingertips, and then your toes, Downward Dog. And breathe. You can pedal out your feet here, elongating and widening the calves.

See if you can relax your lower back into the skin a little bit so that it's not rounded. Bend your knees. Step or hop your feet towards the front of the mat. Inhale, then rise up a little bit. Exhale fold.

Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale. Again, inhale the arms come up. Exhale noticing in your second sun salutation fold, inhale lengthen, if you feel different. Exhale plant your hands, maybe shift the sensation into your fingertips, shift your shoulders over your finger line.

Come high up onto your tippy toes. Maybe lift one leg. Switch to the other leg. Keep that leg there. Take a deep breath in.

On your exhale, take your ribs in towards your back and bring the other leg up maybe. Maybe just a little? Maybe it meets the other, and hop back into Downward Dog. Inhale, roll towards Plank Pose. Exhale shift forwards.

Try to keep soft armpits. Chaturanga. Inhale, widen out the upper arm bones so there's a lot of space. Exhale Downward Dog. When you roll over your toes like that into Downward Dog, there's kind of a strong feeling, in the belly, of contraction.

Once you get into Downward Dog, really elongate the belly from the pubic bone to the navel, from the navel to the chest. 'Til you find strength and then length. And sometimes you find them together. Exhale bend your knees and see if you find a place where your hips hover over top of your fingertips, so that your feet can land a bit softer. Exhale fully.

Step or hop, inhale lengthen, exhale fold. Inhale come all the way up. Exhale. Last one, inhale. Exhale.

Inhale lengthen. If that last one was interesting to you, maybe as you shift forwards, pull the ribs in a bit. There's a handstand. One day, I promise you, you will surprise yourself. Exhale.

And lower. Inhale Upward Dog. Exhale Downward Dog. And breathe. So what if you made a tiny little movement of effort towards handstand every time you did a sun salutation?

Like it's not for everybody, but if the curiosity is there, kind of make friends with it. And making good friends takes time. Bend your knees, step or hop forwards, or handstand float forward. So once you get your hips over your fingertips and the ribs come in and the kidneys balloon open, see if you can bring your legs up. Exhale fully.

And keep those arms straight without buckling at the elbows as you come down. Inhale, exhale. Release tension, inhale. Exhale. Twists.

Inhale the arms up. Exhale fold forwards. Inhale lengthen. And dog pose. Inhale Plank Pose.

Inner elbows, squeeze so that the armpits stay soft and wide, spacing the upper arm bones super wide across the collarbones. Exhale. Kinda strong movement in the belly, and then release. Step, hop, or jump through to seated. Widen your sit bones a little bit.

It's almost like you're dragging your femur bones back into the back of the bowl of the pelvis, like you could actually walk backwards like that. Just by using that dragging action of your femur bones. And then we're gonna twist. Let's twist to the right first, like good Ashtangies. So left hand comes across.

Right fingertips come behind. Toes are a little bit active, heels move away. And spiral. So what I want you to feel in this twist, and Patricia Sullivan does some cool stuff with this, is actually like your right hip is pulling back a little bit and your left hip is sliding forwards, and that actually allows you to twist. It's almost like the twist starts in the sacrum a little bit.

And the outer body goes with that. Like it's okay to be a tiny bit asymmetrical back there. But then as you twist, see if you can actually think about your spinal column rotating in the opposite direction of your outer body. And it's just a little bit strengthening. And also a little bit softening of going too far in one direction.

So let's try it on the other side. Left kinda slides in, right kinda slides out. Big movement with the outer back muscles spreading away from the spine. And then just think about your spinal column twisting in the opposite direction. It's almost like strengthening.

And then soften your big muscles. Elongate and twist. That feels amazing. So vinyasa. Cross your shins.

Little bit of strength in the outer feet. Roll over the feet, with the strength of that feet you have a bit of a springboard to come back into Downward Dog. Inhale into Plank Pose, exhale to Chaturanga. Upward Dog. Downward Dog.

Step or hop through. The trick to jumping through, I mean, part of it is looking where you're gonna go. If you look right here, you might just land right there. So where is your intention? That makes a big difference?

Look forwards, then kinda relax your neck, and when you're gonna jump through, you could do it with crossed legs too, I'll show that, look where you wanna go. And come through. So legs straighten again. Left leg straightens. Right leg comes in.

To Janu Shirshasana. So the sole of the foot comes onto the inner thigh, and let's actually move it a little wide, so the angle, it's like you're facing out on diagonal, not towards the front of the mat. And then I like to actually bend my knee here and see if I can make a big movement to get my outer shoulder to touch the inner knee. And then if you have the reach, you can take the inner foot. First step is to slide your arm over your head here and see if you can stay nice and long and smooth in your back muscles, and if it feels possible, as you slide your heel away, you're caught here with the friction.

It actually helps to have bare skin there. And then you can come over and clasp. This sit bone might come off, that's okay. You seem to be all connected. But if you wanna root it down, it'll give you a little bit more feeling of stretch in your outer right side.

Let's come up. Might be easier to see it on the other side. So right leg extends, left leg comes in, and then we just open up a little bit. Bend. Big circular movement, catch.

Maybe this happens, maybe this happens. First start by sweeping the arm over. And then maybe moving the elbow up a bit, you can start to slide and hold the outer foot. Root the left sit bone a tad. And spin the right lung upwards towards the ceiling.

You might think about rotating your spine in the opposite direction that your bigger muscles are going. To strengthen. This feels amazing in your lower back. Inhale come up. Make sure it feels amazing.

If you're going too far, sometimes it doesn't feel so good. Legs come forwards. So let's continue on with the vinyasa. Cross your opposite shin over, the one that you don't usually do. And try to sweep.

It's like you wanna sweep your feet underneath you. Take your hands in front, shift forwards and as you teeter totter your head forwards, see if you can come onto the outer feet here. And then your springboard is there for you. Exhale. Inhale into the Plank Pose, exhale Chaturanga.

Upward Dog. Downward Dog. Step or hop through. Take a look, relax your neck. You can do it.

Come all the way through. Left leg stays straight, right leg comes in either to Janu Shirshasana like we did before, but this time the hips are squared, or into, if you can keep the knee quite sealed, bring the foot on the upper thigh for Half Bound Lotus. Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. And we're gonna twist in this one. So we're gonna twist towards this leg.

If this knee is floating, prop it up. And I didn't mention, if your hips are rolled back, make sure you prop yourself up here. Make a big twisting movement towards the knee. And the more you twist over towards that knee, the better chance you are going to have to bind here. Or you could have your hand here, or behind you like this.

We're twisting towards the knee, so left hand can come on top of the right knee. And without forcing, but it could just apply a little bit of weight. Breathe here. Each breath, as you ground your hips, there's a little bit of a lengthening up with the inhale, and the exhale might allow for a little bit of a deeper twist. When you feel the twist happening with your big muscles, rotate your spine in the opposite direction.

Unwind. We're gonna try going the opposite way now. This way, towards the straighter leg. So it might look like this. Or you might do that big sweeping motion and go down.

And as you do that, it's easier to find the inner thigh or maybe even the shin. Right hand on the ankle or the outer foot. And see if you can lean your back into your arm as you twist here and breathe. Try not to be too curled forwards. And unwind.

Let's switch legs. So right leg forwards, left leg comes in, seal. Up into the hip crease. Perhaps it's a Janu Shirshasana A. Lower, sweep.

And you'll be surprising yourself at that movement, how much easier it is to clasp the big toe. Other options here are to grab onto a strap, hook it around your big toe, and give yourself an arm extension. So this can have a little pressure. And twist. Half Bound Lotus isn't for everybody, so Janu Shirshasana might feel really nice here.

And then other direction. So... If you want to find the sensation of grabbing the shin, you just lift your leg up until you find it and then you can lower it down and it puts you in a pretty tight twist. Sometimes it's quite nice to be wrapped up super tight. It's a restrictive feeling, and then you try to make space in it, which is really the challenge in all of the asanas.

But if you don't ever challenge yourself, it's hard to find that paradox. Unwind. Good job, release. Cross the shins. Hands in front.

You're trying to sweep here. And we're gonna make that movement, it's quite curly, belly scoops back towards the spine. And see if you can get to here. I think you can. Downward-Facing Dog.

Inhale to the Plank Pose, exhale lower. Upward Dog. Downward Dog. So this is kind of like you know when, as you jump through, you know when you wanna wake up at six in the morning and you make that intention and you wake up at 5:59? Like, you can do this.

Look forwards. Power of intention is super strong. Hips high, and come through. So let's take the right leg in Hero's Pose. And the left leg in Half Bound Lotus, or Janu Shirshasana.

You might need to come up on something to make sure both of your sit bones are equally grounded here. So one or the other. I lied, I said we were always gonna twist to the right, but we're going left for this one now. Make that big sweeping movement. See if you can catch.

Hand can come here. I actually like the hand to come on the inner right knee, and if you hold onto it you can lean back and it's a beautiful sensation of length through the spine. Some people like to do this posture like this, inverting the hand underneath the knee, but it tips you forwards. And for me it's not as nice, but you can play with it. It's very nice on the arm, but not as nice on the spine.

So a couple of breaths there. Find that little action of sacrum twisting. Lengthen the low spine. Lengthen the upper spine. Lengthen the neck.

Twist, and then rotate your spine in the opposite direction. It's like when you do that your right sit bone gets more grounded. Unwind. Let's twist the other direction. Left leg comes into Hero's Pose.

Right leg comes into Janu Shirshasana. Or Ardha Baddha. Make that big movement. And choose an arm position that feels good. So this bind is totally like unnecessary, but if you have the mobility, it does something really beautiful to the front of the shoulder that you're binding on.

This also is a really nice option, so just find a position where you're working the twist in the spine. Kidneys are wide. Breath is nice and big. Seated practices tend to make us a little bit more tired, so see if you can be really interested in what you're doing, 'cause it's a bit more subtle. Unwind.

And release. Opposite leg on top. Feet are kind of... Like fins moving underneath us. Hands come in front.

Get ready for it. Huge inhale, the exhale is gonna shoot you back. As you teeter totter forwards, get high enough in your bum that you can free those legs. Inhale. Good job.

Exhale back. Look forwards, and come through. There's a curling of the upper spine. And then you release it. So left leg straight, right leg comes in, Marichyasana three.

Take your right hand behind. You're kind of in a half squat here. And feel that you can stand on this leg. So it's not just loosely grounded, it's really well grounded. Almost in a feeling of the knee moving forwards.

That's gonna give you a bit more space. Lean back, spin your belly, and see if you can take your elbow to the outside of your knee. Tendency is to move this knee way inwards like this 'cause it's easier to get this this way. But it's gonna be a lot more useful for you if it is assists you in the twist. If you wanna work for a bind here, you can see if that outer shoulder can really get on the outer knee.

Internally rotate the arm, slip it back behind so that it's ready for its friend. And then clasp. If you're holding your hand, try not to have a death grip here. It's like you're holding someone's hand at the movies and you really like them, but you're not gonna hold on too tight 'cause that would freak them out. It's just like you really like them, so you're gonna hold on 'cause you don't wanna let them go.

But it's not too much. Like you don't wanna seem desperate for the bind. Unwind. Exhale release. Left leg comes in.

Plant your foot, feel well grounded. Spin the belly. Then make the knee aligned with the hip. Maybe you work the outer shoulder. Internally rotate.

Softly wrap. And you're holding your own hand. Ground your sit bones and still feel like you can stand on your half-squatted leg. Unwind. Show you a different option here.

So if you can get down low like this and take the back of the tricep against the shin, can place your hands, arrange that same action. Inhale. Get a little fired up for this one. Exhale and shift your shin, like kinda come up like this, shift your shin into your arm so that you can bring this leg into external rotation, and as you press down your shin into your arm, you lift your bum enough to take that leg back. Downward-Facing Dog.

Interesting. Inhale Plank Pose. Exhale Chaturanga. Upward Dog. Downward Dog.

So remember that curled movement? You could even try it here, like lifting the space in between your shoulder blades. When you jump, as you do that you're actually creating more air space for your legs to come through. So if you're in a backbend, that's not gonna work. So really find your ladybug back.

Exhale fully. Look forwards all the way through. Left leg into Hero's Pose. Top of the foot on the floor, all five toes down if possible. You might need to lift up in this one again.

Right leg into half squat. In some schools this is Marichyasana three. In some it's Marichyasana four. So right fingertip comes behind. You can move that knee in to find this, but then when you find it, allow the knee to move back so it's actually just encouraging, softly, your body into the twist.

Remember the sacrum can twist. You can twist a little bit from the hips. The larger body is moving into the twist. The spine is rotating in the opposite direction. Same thing, outer armpit there.

Maybe the hand finds each other. Some people clasp their wrist, but in this one I just feel like I wanna feel that resistance but I don't wanna be too tight. So I wanna feel like a squish and then an open, but I don't want it to be too tight. Like I don't wanna be desperate for the pose. Unwind.

Possible to do this here again. Outer arm and shin fuse together. Tip forwards. And back, but actually, before we do that, I'm just gonna release and do the other side 'cause I don't wanna make you do too many vinyasas. So left leg comes in.

Like you're standing on it. So we're starting to get into a flow, We have enough anatomical details to just breathe into the twists. This is pretty twisted up, so find the space in it. Unwind. Arm and shin together.

Shift. Downward Dog. Forwards Plank Pose, exhale Chaturanga. Breathe, Upward Dog. Downward Dog.

You can do it. All the way through. A tip on this one is using socks and doing it on a floor like this so that you could actually like find that and slide through on your socks. I did that for a long time. Left leg either goes into Half Lotus, or the heel comes in towards the sit bone.

Right leg comes into the half squat. So heel into the sit bone, and twisting. You can always hug here and twist here, come here. If you're in Half Lotus, I actually like to come up off of my bum to find the twist. This is a tricky one.

And then you're standing on that foot. You're quite curled to find this position. Your right sit bone is actually lifted. And come up as straight as you can. Let's try the other side.

So first, heel in towards the sit bone. Here. Here. You can bind in this one as well. With the foot there it's asking you a lot more space in the hip joint 'cause you have a foot in your hip joint.

So as you come forwards, I like to come in like this. Binding, it's quite curly. And then come up as straight as you can. Marichyasana D. Try not to over-rotate from your neck.

Unwind. So let's just release this one. Cross. However you get back. Upward Dog.

Downward Dog. Let's close with Ardha Matsyendrasana. So come through. Left leg comes either into the seat, right leg comes onto the inside or the outside. Twisting.

So we know what's happening in the twist now. This one you can find the bind through this space. And I wanna show you an alternative version of this that's maybe a little bit trickier to balance. So instead of having that foot on the floor like this, it actually goes straight back and you sit on it. Like the heel is right in the perineum.

And it's balancey. Not only does it open up your pelvic floor, but it tests your balance. So there has to be enough strength. And enough ease. Let's try the other side.

And one side might feel easier than the other. I like this one. It's kind of crazy. Maybe we've done too many yoga postures and we need stranger and stranger things. But really it's all in the simplest movement.

Unwind. Crazy. Downward Dog. Child's Pose. So notice how your spine feels.

Not sure if you've ever done a practice that's almost entirely twists. Twisting helps to lengthen your psoas muscles. It evens out the two sides of the body and it flushes your kidneys. Shavasana. I'm gonna throw this blanket over top of me.

If you have something like this at home, it's nice to have not only the warmth, but the weight. So you might pause the video here, and if there's anything else you wanna add to this practice, like backbends or forward folds or inversions. You could, you could also add on the shoulder stand or the headstand practice to this video. But if you're ready to relax, to release, just close your eyes, take a deep breath into your nose. And exhale fully.

Do that again. Inhale. Exhale. I've been reading a lot of Anne Lamott, don't know if you know her. But she says rest and laughter are the most spiritual things that you can do.

Sometimes people need to move around quite a bit in order to really rest. So you can use your breath here to open up your body. Taking a big breath into your belly. Relaxing years of held tension in your organs, in your guts, in your belly. And thousands of shoulds.

I should do this, I should be this, I should look like this. Inhale and exhale, let that go. Inhale into your heart space. The front of your heart metaphorically being the part that loves others, relax there. The back of your heart metaphorically being the part that loves yourself.

Relax there. And hold yourself very gently. So you might wanna stay here for a bit longer. And if you feel ready, take a little bit of a bigger breath into your back muscles. And stretch your arms over your head.

Make your own movements to come up. Try to be a little bit slower in your movements in an effort to maintain some of the super relaxed feeling. Let's close with three oms together. Hands come together. Inhale deeply, exhale everything.

All of those shoulds. Inhale. Om. Om. Om.



1 person likes this.
Very helpful cueing for jumping through and moving toward handstand. Thank you, Lydia.
Thanks Catherine! I love that we're spending time together on here! Hope to see you May! Big love!
Lovely plays and sequence! I love the variation with the heal at the end of the twist practice... guess I one of the weird ones too :P merci
Hi Jasmine Noëlla Burton. So fun we are practicing together here. Looking so forward to seeing you in Banff at the end of the month. Love!

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