Costa Rica Yoga JournalMark Goldstein

Spinal Twists

Headstand Twist
Headstand Twist

By Mark Goldstein

The wettest part of the rainy season is upon us now, and I thought it would be good to focus on cleansing. Even though it can get quite muddy during our rainy season, this time of year does serve a purpose to both cleanse and feed our environment.

Coincidentally, so do Spinal Twists in our yoga practice. Imagine that you are washing a very dirty towel out in the sink. In order to get it really clean you will need to let it soak to loosen things up. Next you might lift it out of the water and wring it out a few times by twisting it. Twisting the towel squeezes out all of the dirty water, and then when you replace it back into the warm soapy water, cleansing water will be absorbed to clean the towel more thoroughly. Perhaps if youʼre not in a rush you will soak it and wring it out a few more times. This very much what we are doing with our spinal twists. Yoga is everywhere, isnʼt it?
Playa Yoga

Thai Massage Twist
Thai Massage Twist

Spinal twists in yoga accomplish many things. They increase the mobility in our spine by stretching all of the connective tissue associated with our spines. This means that all of our ligaments, tendons and muscles that are linked to our spine receive a nice stretch. Also, our internal organs are gently squeezed and massaged by our twisting action. This bit of extra pressure on our internal organs serves to flush out the organs. To cleanse them. When we release our twist, new fluids replace the old bringing in fresh nutrients and oxygen, and flush out the toxins. Pretty simple, pretty cool and very effective.

These are just two of the many physical results. Mentally we are given a wonderful chance to focus deep within. Spinal twists are almost always held in stillness, and so we slow down and focus deeply, therefore calming our mind. This deep focus within a spinal twist often results in the release of large powerful muscles as well as very small intricate parts of our structure.

Some of our favorite things to experience in yoga are those wonderful “pops” cracks” and even the rare deep “clunk” that result when our spines experience some self made chiropractic adjustments. There are several yoga poses that serve as spinal twists. Twisting poses can be done from a sitting position, standing, lying or even while in a headstand.

Lying Twist
Lying Twist

One common denominator to all twisting poses is that we always try to keep our spines elongated, rather then in a curved or hunched position. As well, we always try to remember to use our breath to guide ourselves safely and deeply into our pose. Spinal twists are better done after we have thoroughly warmed up our bodies. Many reserve their twists for the end of their practice when our bodies are ready to slow things down.

Spinal twists can be a great time to involve a partner. Your partner can be another student, your instructor or a Thai Massage therapist. Whether on your own, or with someone’s assistance, be safe, slow down and plan to spend some quality time as you languish in these healing and cleansing poses.

Seated twist
Seated Twist

I will be adding focus to spinal twists in my yoga classes and my Thai Massage sessions in September and October, so please join me! Yoga can be a wonderful part of your life, it is never too late to begin, and I hope that I can play a part in opening that up to you.

Mark Goldstein lives in Manuel Antonio, and is originally from the United States. He is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Instructor of Thai Massage and a Yoga Instructor. Mark is the owner of PranaVida Wellness and Playa Yoga Costa Rica here in Manuel Antonio. For information call 88-38-69-60 or