This week in my Yoga classes, I have been particularly drawn to explore the spiralling actions in the spine. When thinking about twisting actions in the spine, we might think initially about mobility, perhaps even to think about the question ‘how can I loosen my spine to create more ability for twist?’
This however was a question I found difficult to balance, particularly as I have also been particularly interested in the work of Dr Stuart McGill, whose work I highly recommend to anyone wanting to gain some fundamental information in spinal health.
Why would I be wanting to create more twist through loosening when:
- The spine prefers and requires strength and stability.
- Muscular contraction, therefore ‘action’, dictates movement in the body.
Surely, if I were to find a way to shut off the musculature, this would totally destabilise the spine…? Not ideal for spinal health, simply to get a more ‘impressive’ range in twisting postures.
Instead of creating space through loosening, we create space through clarity in the articulation of the movement. If understand that the twist in the spine is a gradual accumulation of space into the the articulate range between each vertebral disc (which between 2 vertebrae there is very little range); then we achieve way more twist, its been consciously formed, meaning there is then also greater stability.
By working slowly through the range, I feel as I reach the range of motion in the rotation, perhaps then hovering around the point of ‘full range’ to enable me to feel a sense of freedom; before shifting my attention up the spine.
I found that suddenly I felt way lighter in my spinal twisting; I was able to breath, to balance and to sustain the posture.
What I feel happens here is that through the more conscious journey through the forming of my torsion, within the spine, I was able to feel the deepening contraction of the transverse abdominal muscles, to an extent where I felt supremely stable and supported in this movement of the spine that, were I to simply force it through pulling from arms or pushing, I would normally feel a highly unstable deep twisting and pinching of the structures around the spine.
I’ve distributed some images of me playing with some ‘Manduka’ yoga bricks, that I hope will also add some visual stimulation to ponder over this contemplation.
I hope it also gives you something to think about, as you explore your practice….happy spiralling!