The Twisted Dragon Pose is a Yang variation of Yin Yoga's Dragon Poses. Instead of having my students do only Yin poses in a class or for myself in my own home practice, I often like to weave yin and yang poses together, alternating one with the other. This type of practice is a wonderful way to learn to notice the different feeling in your body, between placing effort into a pose (yang), and then releasing it totally (yin).
The object of a Yin Yoga practice is to notice where your body is efforting and where it is not. It order to deeply work beyond the superficial muscles, and more deeply into the joints, fascia, tendons and ligaments, you must learn the effect of your mental effort on your body and the release of effort, in order for health and healing to occur.
A Yin Yoga practice is not easy and requires a lot of skill. Controlling your muscles in the manner of contracting them through effort, then releasing the effort requires a lot of mindfulness on your part. When you master this skill, tension can be released in the body anytime and anywhere, to maintain great health and healing! Your Body Window will speak to you otherwise, if you hold continual tension!
Practicing the Dragon Poses is a great way to learn this skill by alternating between the Dragon Flying High (yang), the Twisted Dragon (yang) and the Low Flying Dragon (yin). (Click on the link to learn about the others). Even though the High Flying Dragon and the Twisted Dragon Poses are both Yang-like, you can still release effort in all Yang poses, to hold it much longer. You do this by exerting only the minimal effort to keep your body in the pose.
Truly, all yoga poses can be softened within the pose, to make it more yin-like to find a sweet and calm relaxation within the pose!
The purpose of this article is to describe the Twisted Dragon Pose, a Yang pose that I like to do for an added bonus of the internal organ massage, through the twist.
When you are ready, first practice a strong and effortful Yang Dragon Flying High Pose. Then soften it and release into a minimal effort upright Dragon, before moving into the Yin Dragon Flying Low, as shown below.
The Low Dragon is the first position pictured, that of the low lunge, with your right leg forward, but instead of your hands on your knee, place your hands on the ground one on either side of your right foot.
Create a strong, straight back, with your neck in neutral, like shown in the photo below. As you assure your alignment, by keeping your knee directly above your ankle, begin to breath more slowly and deeply into the belly. Begin to soften the pose and notice if you can release any muscular energy that isn't necessary to hold the pose. If you like you can take this pose to your first edge and hold it here for a few minutes, before moving into the Twisted Dragon Pose. (For a full description of the practice of the Dragon Poses, click here).
Next, mindfully lift your upper body, and take your right hand and put it on your right knee. Slowly push gently away with your hand, as you twist your torso and look upward with your gaze. The tendency is to lift your chin up, but instead keep it slightly downward towards your chest as you lengthen the back of your neck.
The other tendency is to push hard with your hand. Instead, keep your right elbow flexed and your right shoulder relaxed. Continue your slow, deep and even breath. With the inhale, elongate a bit more through the torso. On the exhale, twist a little more through your waist.
Try to hold this pose for a few minutes. Continue to hold your muscles long and strong, however, notice with your breath if you can release any muscles that are not required to hold the pose, like your shoulder muscles. Allow them to lower with your shoulder blades. Check in with your feet, ankles and calves. See if you can soften here more too.
There are many lines of energy opened in this pose, grounding 1st chakra energy, front body opening of the 2nd and 3rd Chakras. The twist simulates the squeezing out of the old blood/energy of the internal organs, which lights a fire in your 3rd chakra energy system.
After you feel like you can no longer hold the Twisted Dragon Pose, take three more long, slow breaths and squeeze just a bit more out of your torso. The most movement and release in the body usually occurs in the final moments and breaths of the pose.
Slowly untwist on an exhale and feel the new blood/energy rush back into your organs. You may move from here into the full Yin pose, the Dragon Flying Low if you want to experience the full release next. Just place both hands back on the ground on either side of your foot. Hold this pose for several more minutes, as desired.
As a final counterpose to the strong front hip opening, you can do a hurdler's type stretch. Keep your right foot planted, and with both hands on the ground on each side of your right leg, slowly raise your hips and move them back as if you were going to sit back and down.
You will need to walk your hands back toward your knee. Keep going until your right leg is as straight as comfortable and you are either sitting on your right hip, or moving in that direction. This is a modified hurdler's type of stretch, shown below, and feels wonderful after the front of the hip flexors are opened in the Dragon Poses.
Even though I didn't picture it, if you have open hamstrings, you can fold forward at the waist as well, and do a sort of half-forward fold.
When you have completed the Twisted Dragon on one side, make sure you do the other leg and hip for equal periods of time.
The flowing sequence of the Dragon poses is a wonderful home practice. To reiterate my suggested order of the flow in summary format:
May your practice of the Twisted Dragon Pose bring awareness of your cycles of tension and relaxation, and may you better be able to increase this awareness in your daily life. Namaste!
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