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What to do about the silly season?

December 1, 2011
What with the silly season looming just around the corner we can already hear our poor old livers groaning in anticipation of a nasty a hammering. The gall bladder is nodding in agreement and waistline is looking in the closet for the ‘fat clothes’ .Then the mind must add its little bit extra with guilt.
Even if we are ‘good’ we still seem to consume that little bit extra or succumb to the odd mince pie, and even those of us who usually do not imbibe on the alcoholic front might submit to a little glass of champagne.
Never fear! Call on the reserves – the spinal twists. I will never forget when Swami Pragyamurti was here and she said “As yoga teachers you need to make good friends with spinal twists. You need to collect them”. And I thought ‘Oh I’m blessed to have so many best friends’.
POSTURE : Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Parivartanasana)
BENEFITS : This posture brings flexibility to the spine, releases back muscles and massages the internal organs.
METHOD : Lie flat on your back with your knees on your chest. Have your arms stretched away from your body at 90 degree angles, with the palms facing downwards. Inhale and as you exhale squeeze your knees together taking them slowly over to the floor on the right, turning your head to look at your left hand. On the inhalation bring the head and knees slowly back to the centre. When you exhale take the knees over onto the floor on the left hand side and turn your head to look at your right hand. On the inhalation bring your head and knees back to the centre. Repeat this exercise seven more times to each side. It is important that you try to keep your knees, ankles and feet together when you do this posture, and that you bring your knees as close to your armpits as possible. You can also do this posture as a static pose, holding the knees to the floor on each side for eight breaths.
POSTURE : Upright Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
BENEFITS : This posture brings flexibility to the spine, releases the back muscles and massages the internal organs.
METHOD : Sit on your mat with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. Bend your left knee and place the heel of your left foot next to your right buttock. Place your right foot on the outside of your left knee, with the sole of the foot flat on the floor. Place your right hand on the floor at the base of your spine for support. Drop your left elbow over the top of your right knee and hold up left hand up like a traffic cop. Take a long, slow breath in as you straighten your spine upwards, and as you exhale twist your torso slowly to the right. Use your left elbow to hug the right knee in towards your chest, and your right hand to push against the floor for leverage. Keep moving your right shoulder backwards and bringing your left shoulder forwards. Look over your right shoulder, but be careful not to strain your neck. Don’t forget to breathe.
For a more advanced posture, bring the fingertips and thumb of the left hand together and insert the left hand underneath the right knee and around the left side of your waist, towards your back. Lift your right hand from the floor and see if you can gently reach for your left hand. Quite a knot! Hold the posture for as long as it remains comfortable. Repeat the exercise to the other side, bending the right leg first and twisting to the left.
These are just two of the many spinal twists available for the relief of your liver, waistline and mind over this festive season.
Enjoy them as you would the company of a close friend.
Hari Om.
______________________________________
Amber Land completed her yoga teacher’s training at Ananda Kutir Yoga Centre in Cape Town in 1992 and has been teaching yoga ever since. She is trained and teaches in the Sivananda Integral Yoga Style, incorporating what she considers the best aspects of other schools into her teaching. amberland@vodamail.co.za | www.hathayoga.co.za
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