Spine twist increases the range of motion in the upper body by training the trunk to spiral on the central vertical axis, while maintaining the support of a stable pelvis. This kind of range of motion work is very important in sports as well.
- Sit up tall on your sit bones.
- Pull your abdominals in so that your upper body is well supported.
- Flex your feet and reach through your heels.
- Extend your arms directly out to the sides, keeping them even with your shoulders, so that there is one long line from finger tip to finger tip.
Think of your spine as being very long, with energy moving down into the floor through the tail-bone and up to the sky through the top of your head. Even with all that height, you still want to keep your shoulders relaxed and your rib cage down.
If your hamstrings are tight and it is hard for you to sit upright, place a small pillow or folded towel under your hips.
- Think of an imaginary line running straight up through the middle of your body. On a two-part exhale, get taller as your turn your torso and head on that central axis.
The movement is a two-part pulse where you exhale to twist half way, and the exhale again to turn as far as you can.
The twist is from the waist, not from the shoulders. The upper body, including the head, moves as one piece. The pelvis stays stable and does not twist at all. You can check this by making sure that your feet stay even with each other.
The spiral of the upper body supported by a stable pelvis is the crux of this exercise. This is why golfers, tennis players, and those of us wishing to maintain freedom of motion get so much out of this exercise.
- Use your inhale to return to center.
- On the exhale, take the twist to the other side.
As you return, continue to extend energy out your finger tips, through your heels, and out the top of your head. Control the motion and make sure that your pelvis does not move.
Repeat the exercise five times to each side
Tip: Use the BreathSpine twist is a great opportunity to use the breath in the way that Joseph Pilates encouraged, which was to take in a lot of fresh air and use movement to expel old air forcefully. In spine twist, use the twisting motion to help you feel as if you are literally wringing the old air out.
I have seen spine twist taught with the opposite breathing pattern -- inhale on the twist. I like that method because it is easier to feel as if you are growing taller on the inhale. On the other hand I like letting the breath out on the twist, as I have it here. Try spine twist both ways. It can be fascinating to explore how breathing patterns can change our experience of a movement.