Saturday, November 28, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Exercise: Think Pretzels

Even with willpower, it's hard to avoid overeating at Thanksgiving. There is just so much good, comfort food on the table. If, like me, you overindulged on turkey, potatoes and pie, and if your blood pressure is starting to rise with all the activities planned for the next month, I have an exercise for you.

Twists stimulate the organs and also enhance the exhale, the relaxing, calming part of the breath. They can be done seated, standing, or lying down, making this a versatile pose to incorporate into your day.

As noted in this Yoga Journal article which shows three easy twists, it is best to elongate the spine the spine before twisting. It is also best to flex the spine afterwards. You can use the Personal Wave or Old Faithful undulations to accomplish both.

In her video, Strength & Spirit, acclaimed yoga teacher Ana Forrest says, "Spiral up, don't grind down." I find that good advice for any movement, especially twists.

Also, focus turning with your exhale, draw in your lower abdominals to support your low back, and initiate the spiral action from the base of your spine working up. Extending your exhale gives you the opportunity to go deeper into the twist and further calm your nervous system.

As noted in the Barber Pole undulation, the slower your movement, the more you will activate the smaller, core muscles around your spine.

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