Uphill Spine for Twist Postures?


I often see people trying to take their arm or hand very low on the outside of their leg for twist postures. This is not necessarily wrong, but consider that taking the hand that low typically requires the spine to go downhill. This downhill shape often puts part or all of the spine in flexion or a rounded shape. When the spine is in flexion, the intervertebral discs "squish" posteriorly toward the spinal cord.

Imagine a S'more--2 graham crackers with a big marshmallow in between. The crackers represent your vertebrae and the marshmallow your discs. Visualize taking the front edges of the crackers closer together. The marshmallow would squish back a bit. This is what happens with spinal flexion. It's not quite as dramatic as the S'more, but similar. 

Now imagine taking that flexed spine into rotation. If there is any disc degradation (it's quite normal for most people to have at least some), the weakness is typically posterior-lateral. Twisting with a flexed spine would put even more pressure on the weakened area of the disc. 

Try doing your Twist poses with an uphill, long spine. This will help your discs stay in a nice neutral position upon entering the rotation.

You can find much more information on the anatomy of twisting in my book, Embodied Posture: Your Unique Body and Yoga, available in paperback and Kindle.


Are you a yoga teacher ready to learn more about the body and how to design classes to support functional wellness and embodied self-awareness? Join me for one of our upcoming advanced training modules. In June we head to Bali to study the shoulder, in July we will be in Texas for the Spine, and Thailand in September for the Hip. Find all the details here!

Stacy Dockins

Co-Owner and Director of Teacher Trainings with www.yogaproject.com