It’s still January — a good month to look toward health and detoxification. In the yoga world, twists are often touted to be especially effective for detoxification; but contrary to what you may hear in some classes, they don’t directly affect the workings of the liver, where the primary mechanisms of detoxification occur. That said, yoga in general does help the organs of the body to perform their normal detoxifying functions, thus facilitating the natural process of detoxification.
Beyond this, twists can improve digestion and aid in the process of waste removal. They also tone the abdominals, open up the the intercostal muscles which surround the ribcage and improve spine mobility.
Revolved Chair Pose specifically also builds strength in your quadriceps, lengthens your spine, expands your chest and challenges your balance.
Revolved Chair Pose
Parivritta utkatasana (par-ee-vrt-tah OOT-kah-TAHS-ahna)
parivritta = revolved, utkata = difficult/intense, asana = pose
Revolved Chair Pose can be considered an intermediate standing twist. Before moving into this pose, you’ll want to warm up with some preparation poses, including Forward Fold, Half-Way Lift and basic Chair Pose.
To enter into Revolved Chair Pose, start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Then move into Chair Pose by bringing the feet together with the big toe joints touching, and a small gap between the heels. (Alternatively, the pose can be done with feet at hip-width distance.)
Squeeze the knees together as you begin to lower the hips, sitting down and back, as if into a chair.
Draw the shoulder blades down and away from the ears and toward the midline. Check that both knees are inline with each other, which ensures that the pelvis is aligned.
Shift the majority of the weight into the heels, and make sure you can still see the toes over the edge of the knees to protect the ligaments at the front of the kneecaps.
From Chair Pose, inhale the arms long, biceps to the ears (if accessible), and exhale twist to one side as you place the elbow outside the opposite knee while drawing palms to touch at the sternum. Watch for the pelvis slipping out of alignment, as the knee on the side you’re twisting to has a tendency to slide back when twisting. Counteract this by drawing the knees level once again.
Hold here for a number of breaths, keeping the hips as square as possible, then repeat on the other side.
To exit the pose, release you head down into a deep Forward Fold.
Open the arms to fly. Try lengthening the arms, taking the back of the hand to the outside of your ankle and reaching the other arm up, extending through opposite fingertips. If you have the flexibility, you can place the palm of the lowered hand to the floor.
Add a balance challenge. To test your balance, try ‘pelican pose,’ by lifting one foot away from the floor toward your buttocks; then lower and try the other side.
Cautions and Modifications:
Be cautious in this posture if you have knee, shoulder or neck injuries. If the pose seems too intense you can always lessen the bend in your knees for some relief. Also, feel free to drop the gaze down if you experience neck pain or discomfort. Additionally, Revolved Chair Pose is not recommended during pregnancy.