3 Reasons to Incorporate Twists into Your Morning Stretch Routine: Detox & Elimination
- Published on: 06 February, 2017
- Last update: 20 August, 2018
(A big thank you to @notcoolnayj for collaborating with me on this guest post! She is a yoga teacher from Yonkers, NY who wants her students to feel that yoga is for everyone and loves to explain the emotional & physical benefits of each pose!)
The Magic of the Twist
Twists are one of the simplest healing techniques present in the yoga practice and definitely one of my favorite poses. There are a variety to choose from, ranging from gentle movements to intense, deep compressions that massage the internal organs and spine.
Within all twists, your main goal is to breathe through it comfortably to build the agni (the digestive fire deep in the abdomen). This is similar to the understanding of digestion and energy in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where we breathe in energy (Qi) through our lungs, which can then be used to build the spleen Qi (digestive energy).
All twists involve first pressing the right thigh against the abdominal wall, stimulating the gall bladder, liver & right kidney then twisting to opposite direction to aid in emptying various toxins & chemicals in the pancreas & left kidney. Twists should always begin to the right first, then left – as it is believed to be massaging the ascending colon followed by the descending colon to aid elimination.
#1 DETOX & ELIMINATION
A major benefit of twists is improved digestion followed by a rush of increased fresh oxygen to the internal organs. When the digestive organs are compressed, this creates a lack of circulation. Yet once the twist is released, there is a direct stream of fresh blood flood that engulfs the digestive & elimination organs (liver, kidneys, intestines, skin, & lungs).
- Fresh Blood Flow = Fresh Oxygen & Nutrients = Increased Ability to Function
- The fresh blood flow can aid in riding the cells of built up waste because increased circulation = increased detoxification on a cellular level (new blood carrying away old waste from the cells)
- The power of the twist stimulates the excretory, digestive & blood purification systems of the body.
#2 SPINE HEALTH
Aside from the obvious stretching of the spine and neck, twists maintain normal spine rotation by promoting a consistent range of motion. Without working the spine muscles & creating space between the joints, we risk stiffening the spine & sometimes even creating discomfort/pain. We spend so much of our time hunched over, sitting, looking down, that we forget to create length within our foundation. A gentle twist can easily relieve back pain and strengthen muscles allowing a healthy spine to thrive.
The most calming property of a twist is its ability to build energy while leaving stress and anxiety behind – 2 birds 1 huge healing stone! The opening of the chest, shoulders and back following the breath literally lift a weight off the shoulders by creating space in places full of tension. When there is a lack of space in our spine, we can get stuck physically (lack of motion) which can cause energy levels to drop. Energy can flow better from the root to the crown when lengthening and breath in a twist. It instantly energizing the body and mind and decompresses the vertebrae. Remember! Releasing stored tension with that physical exhale positively affects your current mental state.
The twist shown above is a gentle variation of a twist: Bharadvajasana Twist (cross legged twist). On top of reaping all the benefits above, this gentle twist helps relieve lower back ache, neck pain, sciatica, & wrings out stress and tension from the tissues. It’s a great pose to calm and stabilize the nervous system, which is why I usually end classes with a twist!