Cross-Legged Twist

If you’re a member of USA Triathlon (which you should be, if you race triathlons!), you’ll soon receive a copy of their nice magazine, USA Triathlon Life. [Addendum: See it online here!] The winter 2010 issue includes a piece I wrote on yoga for triathlon. If you look very closely at the cross-legged twist instructions and photo, you’ll notice they don’t quite mesh. While the instructions cue you to cross right leg over left and roll to the left, the photo shows that cross of the legs with a twist to the right. Obviously, this is just a mistake of composition, but it gives me a chance to tout the virtues of twisting both ways with the legs crossed.
Here’s a depiction of what’s illustrated:
And here’s what’s called for in the text:
Same cross of the legs—right over left—but two different poses. Both do stretch the IT band, the outer hip, the spine, and the chest. But the first one, in which you twist right, works the lateral quads and the iliopsoas on the left, while the second, in which you twist left, gets much deeper into the right-leg glutes, tensor fasciae latae, and IT band.
Try them both, and you’ll feel the difference. Together with a squat for the quads and lower back and a forward fold for the hamstrings, these twists would be part of a complete postrun routine. These twists appear in Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga and in the Reclining Twists episode of my Sage Yoga Training podcast, available free at iTunes and streamable at YouTube. We also do them regularly at the studio, and they’re featured in my YogaVibes yoga for athletes class. Enjoy them both!