Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Stretch for Sewists #2

The first place we start to age is our feet.  The second place we start to age is our spine.  I state these two facts pretty much every class I teach.

One of the best things you can do for your spine at any time, really, but especially after sitting at your machine, or standing at your longarm for long periods of time, is to twist.  Twists release tension in the spine.  You can twist while standing, or sitting in your chair, but ideally it is good to move.  Change your position.  Sit on the floor.

A simple seated spinal twist, stage 2
We in the Western world rarely sit on the floor which is a prime cause of our hip and knee issues.  In the Eastern world, the type and number of hip and knee replacements are not even close to the amount here.  So keep a quilt (I'm sure you have an extra one or two, right?!) handy to spread out on your sewing room floor, and sit down on it for perhaps 5 minutes when you feel the need to release your back or your hips.  Your back and your hips will thank you.

The photo above is stage 2 of a seated twist.  Stage 1 would be leaving my right foot beside my left thigh, not crossing it over as I have done here.  Oops, I forgot to do stage 1!

Image from Yoga Partout

The girl on the lower left is in stage 1 of the twist.  You can bring the twist into the vertebrae of your neck by bringing your chin in the direction of your shoulder.  Think of looking far to the corner of the outside eye.  Doing that is a good eye exercise too!  Hold the twist for a full 1-2 minutes, breathing slowly and steadily in and out through your nose.

When we twist, we gently compress the discs, à la style of wringing out a dishcloth.  Just as we compress a garden hose to control the flow of the water, and then release it, which causes the water to rush out of the hose, the blood will rush through the compressed areas once you untwist.  This does a number of good things for our body.  If you are breathing slowly and steadily, maybe inhaling and exhaling each to a count of 3 or 4, then you are enriching your blood with oxygen.  Once you untwist, the blood, rich in nutrients, nourishes the now decompressed area.  Furthermore, the blood rushing through the area flushes out toxins that might have built up there.  In this way, you are giving yourself a deep tissue massage.  You also have created, at the microscopic level, more space in your spine, which allows for better blood flow.  A more limber, blood-flowing-freely human being is generally a happier one.  Cool, right?

Seated spinal twist, stage 3
If your knees are okay, bend in the bottom leg, keeping that foot gently flexed to protect the knee.  You don't need to pull hard, although you can do it with muscle effort, in a more yang, active style.  In the yin style, you twist as far as you are able, and then soften your belly and relax into the twist, letting the muscles go.  You may not twist as far, but you will work into the connective tissues, the ligaments and fascia (there is a vast amount of fascia in your mid-back, the area where we bend, forwards, backwards, sideways, also where we twist) which is so good when we spend a lot of time bending over our machines or our handwork.

You can do a spinal twist reclined too:
Image from Classic Yoga
That link shows you several other poses which are great for back pain.  You can do this supine twist in bed at night if you like as well.  Thinking of bringing your ear to the floor (or to your mattress) will bring the twist into your neck, much like we did in the sitting version where you bring your chin towards your shoulder.  Twists are great for the abdomen area as well, acting as aids in the digestive process, gently squeezing our abdominal organs, and, once we un-twist, nourishing those organs in the same way as I mentioned before.

Bernie Clark has a great page on twists on his Yin Yoga site here.

The quilt in the photos of me is my Perky Purses, a great size to take to yoga classes!  It's from Pam and Nicky Lintott's book, Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts.

Since it's Sunday Stash in QBL, here is a photo of 3 fat quarters added this week to my stash.
My stash is lacking in grey, so these were great additions; should've ironed them first!
The sun was dappling a bit on these through the doorway, so they are not mottled as they appear here.  They are from Ella Quilts, a LQS that was at our guild meeting on Tuesday.  Her fat quarters were on special for $3 each.  You do get 20" instead of 18", as they are half a metre cut in half.  This is a very decent price per metre for Canada, $12.  However, in Ohio last week I picked up half a YARD for $3 in the sale section at Miller's Dry Goods.  Even with the terrible for Canadians exchange, that is a better deal, working out to about $4 per half yard.  Ah well, need to support our LQS, to some degree, right?  And as my friend Helen says, "it would be rude not to buy anything."
Happy Sunday!


  1. I really love the reclining twist - it almost always releases my hips in a wonderful way. Great instruction on the benefit of twisting; no wonder it feels so good to do!

  2. This is a great blog post...thanks for sharing. Must remember to do those twists. I miss yoga class.

  3. Thank you so much for continuing your series of stretching posts, and, YES!, I am seated on the floor at the moment. Too much time on a freshly turned mattress or too much sewing yesterday? I intuittively move to the floor when my back is achey, but had no idea why until you explained it! Starting in with your stretches now, and looking forward to releasing the tension.

  4. Wow your timing is good, I woke up stiff this morning(sewed most of the weekend), I will get right to that stretch when I get off the computer. I will do it in my sewing room so I have some pretty fabric to stare at while pondering what I should create today!!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing and explaining. I'm going to go try this.

  6. Thanks for sharing all of these great poses with us. Sometimes, it's too easy to forget that we must take a break and take care of ourselves. I hate when my body reminds me later. Also, I love your yoga mat ; )

  7. As someone who gets practically no exercise (though that's not what I tell my doctor ) those exercises look very doable . In fact they are like the exercises my hub does every day . Maybe I should join him . Love the mat !

  8. Love your hair and your perky purses quilt....
    What about the exercise?
    Exercise? Oh yeah that...that too :-)

  9. Thanks so much. I just spent time machine quilting and my body feels compressed and twisted in all the wrong ways. I'm on my way to sit on the floor and stretch. I loved seeing this in your post today!

    1. Hi Aunt TC - replying here as you are a no-reply blogger, and I can't find you... :-( So glad to be of some help! "compressed and twisted in all the wrong ways" a very apt description...hope you got the kinks out. :-)

  10. Neato Sandra! I think even I could try the sitting up stretch positions! (and should!)

  11. Thanks for the stretches! I'm really enjoying this series!! Keep it up!!!