"A man is a young as his spinal column" - Joseph Pilates
Simply put: healthy spine, healthy life! In every yoga practice and in every yoga class that I teach, I make sure I warm up the spine. I move forward, back, side to side, and rotations around the vertebrae. It is our centre, our actual core of our body, it is where all of the nerves run throughout our body. I like to articulate the importance the spine's mobility to insure the clear communication of the nervous system - especially between the head to heart, and heart to head.
There are so many ways you can safely warm up the spine with a twist. My favourite way is to start in a table top. When I do rotations, I like to have my toes together and my knees apart to create a wide foundation. Ground your left hand directly in front of your face and reach your right arm up. Reaching above and beyond, towards the sky. Perhaps even reach behind you to feel an opening in the pectoralis major muscles in the chest. Feel energy radiating out of your heart and fingers. Then thread your right arm through the window between your left arm and knees. Allow your head to rest on the mat and then gently press your left hand down to twist deeper into the spine. Inhale as you reach up and out, exhale as you twist inwards.
Use your imagination. Visualize the sun shining on the right side as you expand towards it just as a flower would absorb all of the sun's powerful energy. As you twist your spine, visualize how you wring out a dirty wet towel.
Really allow your breath to guide you through this movement. I like to explore my lung capacity as I explore the mobility in my spine. I reach up as I inhale, and keep reaching until my breath goes silent, then it is my exhale that brings my body to contract. I empty out all the air, visualizing I am releasing all the toxins.
This movement is great for your body physically. However, you can also make it an energetic practice. As you inhale and open up your chest, what are the feelings do you intend to create? What qualities do you want to affirm to yourself? What kind of energy do you want to radiate out? Love is a feeling I intend to feel for myself, others and the world. Fear is something I feel is "False Evidence Appearing Real," and is what I would want to release and get rid of. So as I inhale and reach up I FEEL expansive feelings of love, and as I exhale and twist, I let go of feelings of fear. Inhale the "good," exhale the "bad." Repeat on same side however many you feel guided to do, connecting to your breath, and your inner cadence within. When you are ready, ground down the other hand and repeat on the other side.
Below is a video of the movement I do to explore spinal rotation in my practice and in my classes. I invite you to press play and come play! Namaste.