A Twist on Digestion

This past weekend I attended a great workshop at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis on twisting for spinal and digestive therapy. It was a fantastic two hours that, to quote the instructor, “squeezed and soaked” my innards and left me feeling grounded and happy.

Whether you practice yoga or not, twists are simple movements that you can make to help ease digestive discomfort. And the benefits go beyond the digestive tract, too. On the musculoskeletal level, twists can improve posture (It’s true—I measured a whole 1/2 inch taller at the doctor this year. My inner fourteen-year-old is thrilled.) and spinal flexibility. On a visceral level, old blood is squeezed out of organs and fresh blood is encouraged to flow in, which is hugely important for repairing tissue. And on an emotional level, twisting brings your awareness to your center, encouraging stability and healing in your body’s core.

Our final pose in class was what is commonly known as legs up the wall. Technically it’s an inversion and not a twist, but because of its tremendous digestive benefits I wanted to share it here. The instructor commented that this pose can help to “unclog the drain.” Because your body is inverted, gravity is now pulling from your toes to your nose, reversing the pressure on your digestive system. Constipated? Then this is a move that could help promote movement. I use a blanket, pillow or bolster to prop my bum and help relax my hips and lower back. Legs up the wall is also great for insomnia; I like to rest in it for ten minutes before I go to bed to unwind from the day.

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