Ask the Yoga Instructor: Twists for a happy, healthy spine

ASK THE YOGA INSTRUCTOR by Mary Bue – Article for Corcoran Newspaper  – Imbue Yoga 2223 E 35th St Minneapolis / \

Q:  Do you have any tips for spine health?  I fear my bad posture is taking me down.” 

A:  The spine is SUCH a masterpiece.  In between each of our vertebrae are fibro-cartilaginous discs composed of collagen,  fibers & a “mucoprotein gel.”  These discs act as shock absorbers and sort of resemble a jelly donut that squishes down every time we walk,  run or just stand with the force of gravity.   When we’re born,  these discs are hydrated but as we age – alas! – we get drier. Even before age 40 some people show risk of disc degeneration.  But never fear!  There are a few things that help keep these discs healthy.  

Water,  rest,  good nutrition and of course lifting using our legs instead of our back are key for keeping the spine young.  Yoga postures (asana) can also help to bring circulation into these discs and keep them lubricated.  Please consult your health care professional before practicing! 

Twists not only bring blood flow into the discs but also a great “massage” for the intestines to aid digestion and can have a relaxing effect. 

Simple Twist Balance (ideally done after a brisk walk):  Stand tall.  On inhale, gaze steady,  lift arms up to shoulder height & wide open, lift heels, coming to tiptoes. On exhale with core/abs engaged,  stay on toes and twist to one side,  arms wide.  Still on toes, inhale,  come back to center.  Exhale and twist to other side.  Inhale center,  exhale and lower heels.  Repeat 3 times.  Lastly, heels down,  twist to one side, hips stay center, allowing arms to wrap around your body. Breathe slow a few breaths, abs lightly engaged.  Unwind and switch sides.  Back at center,  rest,  close eyes,  hands at heart.  Namaste.