Welcome to the sixth lesson of the breathing course.
Today, we’ll talk about Twisting Breath, also known as Washing Machine (in Kundalini Yoga), to create spaciousness for our spine and increase circulation for our inner organs.
Why Practice Twisting Breath?
The art of twisting releases stored tension, aids in digestive function, and renews circulation in stagnant parts of our back, skin, or inner organs. In our digestive system, compression, like we’re squeezing out a washcloth, leads to cell rejuvenation with renewed oxygen to our blood supply.
Our breath can be easily incorporated into a moving posture, as breath is the pulse of our mind. It sets a rhythm for our movement. This combination of conscious breath, movement, and posture is called a kriya in Sanskrit. Many kriyas that are practiced today come from Kundalini yoga, which is a blend of spiritual and physical practices from many traditions, including hatha, Patanjali’s path, Neo-Hinduism, tantric visualization, chanting, and meditation techniques, with the goal of awakening the life force energy that rests at the base of the spine.
How to Perform Twisting Breath
To create freedom and spaciousness within, begin in easy sitting pose with your shins crossed and feet resting underneath your knees. You can use blocks or blankets underneath your sit bones if you find any discomfort in your lower back. Lengthen your spine before you twist by extending upward through the crown of the head and downward through the tailbone. Some of us have the tendency to arch our back in this position, so make sure that you slightly tuck your belly and lower ribs in.
We stabilize the lower spine as we move the upper body to avoid injury. Some part of our body must be firmly anchored (typically the pelvis, the lower back, and the neck) while another part revolves (usually the upper spine).
Next, clasp your hands together at the base of your skull (with your elbow out wide), or place your hands on your shoulders comfortably, fingers on the front side, thumbs in back. As best you can, lift the elbows so the arms are in a straight line, parallel to the ground.
Gently inhale through your nostrils as you twist to the left, and let the exhale push your breath out through your nose as you turn to the right. Keep moving briskly.
Let momentum naturally guide you back to the inhalation on the left. Move your head with your body and continue for one to three minutes.
The discs between each vertebra are made of living cartilage and act like shock absorbers, cushioning the nerves and bones of your spinal column. They require movement and circulation to remain healthy.
Practicing these postures regularly can create a suppleness and freedom in your spine. Enjoy the sensations of clarity, vitality, and ease.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about Lion’s Breath for releasing tension and fear.
To your continued success,
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