Twisting has the same effect on the body as wringing water out of a cloth. It releases deeply held tension from the spine and the organs that surround it. When you twist, it can help to think of the spine as a spiral staircase: just as you have to walk up a step or two on a spiral staircase before you can turn, when twisting your spine you have to lengthen it upwards before you can rotate it. It is crucial to work with the breath to avoid injury. So, inhale before you lengthen the spine, and exhale before you rotate it.

And twist from the base of the spine always. Feel around for the knobbly bits near the end of the spine where the pelvis joins the spinal column. These joints are called the sacro-iliac joints. Move from here only as you rotate the spine around.

To practice Standing Spinal Twist:

  • Place a chair with its back against a wall.
  • Stand in Mountain Pose with your right shoulder in contact with the wall. Place your right foot on the seat of the chair.
  • Keeping your left leg firm on the floor, think of your spine as a spinal staircase. Direct the tailbone down towards the back of the knees, inhale and allow the spine to lengthen up towards the ceiling. Exhale, and twist slowly, moving no more than an inch to the right,  rotating from the base of your spine.
  • Keeping the legs facing straight ahead, continue for at least 6 breaths, inhaling, before lengthening the spine and exhaling before rotating it. Keep the head, neck and spine in line. The neck will want to race ahead and do its own thing.
  • When you have completely turned  the spine to the right, place both hands on the wall. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, and slowly return to Mountain Pose.
  • Stand with your left foot on the other side of the chair and repeat on that side.
  • Afterwards, practice Hangover Pose.


  • If your legs are not strong, or if you have disc problems, sit sideways on the chair.
  • Perform the pose in the same way as above, placing your hands on the back of the chair instead.
  • Afterwards, remain sitting on the chair and face forwards. Take your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Fold your arms, place them on your knees  and rest your head on top of your folded arms for a few moments. If your neck is stiff, place a folded blanket on your knees and rest your head and arms on that instead.

STOP! DO NOT practice this pose in late pregnancy.