Intro: The seated twist is a fantastic backbody opening pose that is usually done as part of the cool-down section of a workout. This pose focuses on the upper back, but also provides relief to the lower back and glutes. From a seated position, with one leg extended, cross the other leg over your extended leg and plant the foot just to the outside and above of the knee of the extended leg. Place the same hand as the crossed leg on the ground behind the center of your back. Press down through your fingertips and bring the palm off the ground to straighten your back. Reach up high with the same hand as the extended leg, and then bring that elbow to the outside of your crossed leg. The most important part of this pose is to keep your back as straight as possible. When it starts to bend, you lose the integrity of the pose, and when you start to bend, instead of stretching your upper back, you end up compressing it. From here, use your core strength to twist, and try to take your gaze to the back. Release the elbow from the knee, and slowly unwind to get out of the pose.
Tip: Instead of thinking about twisting your back as much possible, think about bringing your oblique over the center of your body to the opposite side. Sometimes thinking about a pose in a different way allows you to make new gains!
Common Error: One of the most common errors, which men are especially guilty of because of their preponderance to use their upper body strength, is the use of the elbow as a crank to further “open” your back. This does nothing beneficial for you. When you use your upper body strength to open your back, you are really just compressing the spine. Instead, try and use your core strength to open up your back, and make sure to keep your back straight!
Modification: If it is too difficult for you to lock your elbow on the outside of your opposite knee, you can simply grab the knee with your hand instead. This is a better option for people who cannot hook the elbow while maintaining a straight back. Eventually you can build up to hooking the elbow.