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How to Do the Spine Twist in Pilates

The Spine Twist is a challenging Pilates mat exercise that stretches and strengthens the back. It increases the range of motion in the torso and spine, which helps to prevent injury. Keeping your pelvis stable throughout the move trains you to initiate movement from the center of your body (your powerhouse). This move also helps to improve posture. When combined with the correct breathing technique, the Spine Twist teaches you to exhale fully, expelling stale air from the lungs. Additionally, the Spine Twist increases coordination and stability throughout your whole body.


  1. Begin seated at the top of your mat with your legs extended in front of you and your hands resting at your sides. Sit up as tall as possible, pressing your weight evenly across both sit bones.
  2. Press your legs together firmly and reach strongly through your heels. Flex your feet and spread your toes.
  3. Pull your navel in toward your spine, strongly engaging your abdominal muscles.
  4. Raise your arms out to the sides at shoulder-height. Keeping your palms facing down, extend outward through your fingertips. Pull your shoulder blades together and keep your chin level (neither raised nor tucked).
  5. On an inhalation, pull your navel in toward your spine and lift it up. Imagine you are lengthening your entire torso and spine up to the ceiling through the crown of your head.
  6. Initiating the movement from your torso, twist to the right as far as possible. Do not let your left hip lift off the floor. Engage your buttocks and keep your legs pressing firmly together.
  7. Inhale deeply as you twist your torso back to center, keeping your arms extended.
  8. Now twist to the left. Exhale fully and twist as far you can. Then inhale and twist back to center.
  9. Complete three full rounds, twisting farther and exhaling more fully with each repetition. End by returning to center and lowering your arms to your sides.

Good posture can be successfully acquired only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control. Graceful carriage follows as a matter of course.

Joseph H. Pilates

Modifications & Tips

Among its physical benefits, the Spine Twist will also teach you to coordinate your breath with your movement. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this move:

  • Keep your pelvis stable and unmoving throughout the exercise.
  • On each exhalation, imagine you are wringing the stale air from your lungs, like squeezing out a wet rag.
  • Use the deep abdominal muscles to help support your spine as you twist and return to center.
  • Keep your feet flexed and reach strongly through your heels.
  • Remain sitting up as tall as you can throughout the twist.
  • Keep your thighs squeezing together throughout the move.
  • Let your head be the last part of your body to twist. Do not initiate the twist from your head or allow your head to turn past the point of comfort.
  • Keep the crown of your head lifting and reaching throughout the exercise. Do not scrunch your neck or hunch your shoulders.
  • Synchronize your breath with your movement.

Twist Your Posture

The Spine Twist will build strength and flexibility in the muscles surrounding your spine. Remaining flexible in your back and being able to turn in all directions will not only help prevent against future injury, but it will simply make everyday life easier. As you twist deeper, you create extra space between your vertebrae, which helps to keep your spine long and supple. Coordinating your breath with your movement will help oxygenate your blood and provide you with sustainable energy. The more you twist, the taller you will stand!

The Spine Twist is a classic Pilates mat exercise that strengthens and stretches the spine. Check out this guide to learn more information about this move!
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