Spine Twist: A Seated Spinal Rotation

Spine twist is one of the original Pilates mat exercises. This exercise is a great way to incorporate seated spinal rotation and activate the abdominals, but those with tight hamstrings will find it challenging.

To accommodate hamstring tightness, you can sit on a folded blanket or bolster. This will help you connect your SITs bones and find length through your spine.

If your psoas (hip flexor) feels tight and seized up, use your thumbs to massage in the front of your hips. Try to get those muscles to release. If they don’t release, try crossing your legs. It is possible, though, that the best option is for you to skip this exercise.

Make sure to always do the Pilates exercises that are best for you and your body.

Spine Twist

  1. spine twistBegin sitting with your legs as wide as your mat. Feel your SITs bones and the backs of your heels press into the mat beneath you. If you do not feel your SITs bones, sit on a blanket or bolster to give you some lift. If you still cannot feel your SITs bones, stay lifted on the blanket or bolster and cross your legs. In this position, your hips should be higher than your knees.
  2. As your SITs bones press into the surface beneath you, feel an energetic lift through the top of your head.
  3. With broad collarbones, reach your arms out to your sides. Your arms should be in a straight line with each other or slightly forward of your shoulder joint. Do not let the arms drift behind you. As a modification, you can hold a pole, bend your elbows, or place your hands over your heart center.
  4. We will use Pilates breathing.
  5. Inhale at center.
  6. spine twistAs you twist, you will exhale in 3 parts. Personally, I think deep, deeper, deepest as I twist. As you exhale, keep drawing the low belly toward your spine. Make sure to keep lifted through your spine so that, as you twist, you spiral upward like a barber shop pole.
  7. Pay attention to make sure that your hips are not shifting and your legs are not sliding. Your lower body should be completely still and stable as you rotate. If you notice that your lower body is moving, come to center, give your hips a break for a moment, and try again. Finding the connection for the SITs bones and the back of the heels is key to good form. So, before you try again, press your SITs bones and the backs of your heels into the mat to help you lift through your spine.
  8. Do 5-10 sets, alternating which direction you’re twisting.

Spine Twist Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

After you have done Spine Twist, how do your abs feel? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.