Day 17: The Wring It Out Flow
Main Points for Today:
I hear this bad instruction all the time in yoga classes when it comes to twisting poses:
“Twist from your navel!” Or “Wring out your spine like a sponge!”
Actually following this direction can really hurt you!
What even many yoga teachers don’t know is that your lower back spine and sacrum are not built to twist. Like—hardly at all. In fact, if you never twisted it, that would be awesome.
Here’s the real deal, so you never go into another yoga class again without being armed with the proper knowledge about how to keep your spine safe —even if the teacher tells you otherwise:
Range Of Motion, or ROM, is a term that tells us how far the average joints in people’s bodies are capable of moving. Yours might move a little less or more, but it’s good to know the general concept so you understand where not to push too hard.
The normal low back or lumbar spine can bend forward 40-50 degrees.
It can backbend 15-20 degrees Same with side bending.
But here’s the kicker: your low back spine can only twist about 5 degrees SHARED BETWEEN ALL FIVE JOINTS. That’s about one tiny degree per joint, obvs. I had to capitalize and shout that out because this means that if any one lumbar joint twists more than about 3 degrees (which ain’t much!), you could tear your disc fibers and cause herniations or ruptures.
Plus your Sacroiliac joints (SI) of your sacrum are directly affected by any twisting, and can move out of joint with the lumbar attempting to over-twist.
What’s scary is that in yoga, I see SO many students following their teachers into dangerous low spine twisting. And I see a ton of people with lumbar disc and SI injuries too.
It can feel good to ‘twist’ into the low back—until it doesn’t. SO—let’s not do that any more!
Today you’ll learn that your upper spine, specifically your upper back (thoracic) and neck (cervical) areas are the ones that twist better and better as you go higher towards your skull. The thoracic spine, from your mid back to your neck twists about 30 degrees. Your neck is the twisting superstar which can rotate 80 degrees, and most of that happens in your atlas, or the top neck bone right under your skull.
During your practice, I’ll give you different language and instruction around twists, but just know that whenever you do rotation poses in life and yoga, always think of turning from your sternum/chest, shoulders, head and neck—not any lower than that.
Yes, we will “wring it out” today—and use twists properly to support you to open tight places and unstick fascia, and allow more blood flow and cleansing lymph fluid to move around the inner body, breathing muscles, filter organs like the kidneys and liver and more.
In this way, cleaning can happen more easily, like a sponge wrings out old water. BUT we will not any longer twist from the middle like a sponge. Now you know…that’s old news.
See you on the mat!
Thank you for spiraling upward with me today!