It is almost winter and even in Los Angeles it can get cold and wet. People begin to get colds and sore throats starting around the Christmas holidays continuing till March. During the cold months I love to do Spinal Twists.
Twists not only open the chest and therefore increase breathing capacity, they directly stretch and open up the Lung Meridian. Meridians are energy pathways of the organs moving throughout the body. The position of the arm in most twists beautifully reveals the line of the lung meridian. Practiced with intelligence, spinal twists will open up the first point of this meridian; effective for relieving discomforts related to your lungs: breathing, asthma, coughing and chest tension.
Practice Spinal Twists with your focus on the energy meridian from the first point position which is three fingers’ width below your collarbone, next to the top of your upper arm bone. Then feel the quality of that stretch across your front body, up your spinal column, and into your intercostal muscles (muscles in between the ribs) as you breathe. This part of your body is often tight from poor posture, slouching, and shoulder tension. Deep grief will also affect your posture in this way. Doing twists will help to bring you out of that deep sadness as you change your body shape and bring more breath into the upper chest.
This point on the lung meridian is translated as “center of gathering,” “central treasury,” “letting go,” and “central palace.” In Chinese Medicine the energy connected to the Lungs symbolize how one is able to exchange with the outside environment.
Pay attention to the front of the shoulder gently moving back as you breathe your breath up your body, creating more depth and space to move deeper into your twist. If you are not able to grab hold of the opposite leg or foot, place the hand of the arm that is twisting around on the floor behind you close to your body to support the lift of the spine. You can also use a strap around your foot or leg until you can reach without it. I have found that Spinal Twists will relieve, and often times have eliminated symptoms of a cold or sore throat.
One important adjustment in all twists is to first create more and more space in the spine before and during the actual twisting. Each full breath will be the facilitator of that space. Your inhalation is the physical metaphor for lengthening the spine. Your exhalation will move you deeper into your twist.
There are so many versions of spinal twists to choose from. From simple variations in a chair, sitting cross-legged on the floor, standing poses, to much more advanced variations. The movement that you want to focus on is lifting the spine with Inhalation and twisting on the exhalation. Not with each breath, but about every second or third cycle of the your breathing; quietly holding the pose in between as each breath gently penetrates your body and gradually moves you deeper.
Meeting yourself at each subtle movement of the twist will allow you to feel the wonderful freedom from this spinal twist. Opening the top of the chest so that the point of the shoulder is rolling back, will open the fullness of the lung meridian to present itself. The twist is the gift you give to your body when you have created maximum space in the spine.
Twists will refresh you by freeing your breathing, wringing out the lungs and massaging the organs of digestion, kidneys, and adrenals. Practicing a series of twists two or three times a week will lift your spirits and make you feel happy.
This season you now have a tool to keep you free from getting sick or to help you get better much faster once the symptoms of a cold starts to sneak up. Happy winter from sunny California!