A Safe Way to Twist
A common injury amongst yogis is an inflamed sacro-iliac joint. This joint is where the sacrum...the triangular shaped bony structure that is the terminal end of the spine fits into the pelvis like a keystone giving stability to the upper body. This joint has very little mobility, but as we bend and stretch, it becomes less fixed and can move a little. This can result in stretching of the ligaments that support it and inflammation of the joint. Although there are many causes of sacroiliac joint pain, one common cause among yoga practitioners is incorrect twisting. The only areas of the spine designed for twisting are the thoracic and cervical vertebrae. The lumbar and sacral spine are not twisters. Twisting incorrectly causes the pelvic bowl to become assymetrical...one side rotates forward while the other side rotates back. The area of this movement is the sacroiliac joint. The problem we face is striving to "achieve" the posture to it's extreme end point. In the case of a twist, this is generally to wrap and bind with our arms.
While we may end up looking like the cover of Yoga Australia Magazine and feeling quite proud of our achievement, sooner or later, your sacroiliac joint will not thank you. When you have gained the flexibility required in the thoracic spine, it may be possible to wrap and bind, but do not feel discouraged if this never happens. The intention of the posture is a private matter between you and your body/mind. If it is to nourish and nurture the spine, gain more flexibility in your thorax, or strain your sacroiliac joint while boosting your ego...it's up to you. The video is coutesy of the lovely and knowledgeable Vanessa at Being Yoga Studio to whom my joints will be forever grateful!