Twisting poses are very much an integral part of the pantheon of yoga asanas. Yogis are constantly twisting into intricate poses, holding them as they breathe deeply, and counter-twisting many of them. But why all the twisting? Twisting postures have amazing effects on the physical body and even on the mental and emotional ones.
First of all, they’re highly detoxifying in nature. B.K.S. Iyengar refers to it as the “squeeze and soak” action. When we twist, the organs of detoxification in the abdominal region get a good massage. The organs in the digestive system temporarily get their blood supply cut off when we twist into the pose, and then receive a fresh source of blood when we come out of the twist. The cells detoxify and waste moves out of the system.
Twisting poses also help us detox because they aid in healthy digestion. We compress the digestive organs when we’re deep into a twist, which in turn cuts off the circulation. Then, in the release of the twist, new blood flows into the digestive organs, filling them with fresh nutrients and fresh oxygen. All this supports the healthy functioning of digestive organs.
Twists give us a mental and emotional detox because they release stress and anxiety. Stored bodily tension is let go of and the mind begins to quiet. Practicing a 16-count breath (inhaling for four counts, holding for four counts, exhaling for four counts, and pausing for four counts) can help de-stress the body even further as we settle into the twisting postures.
There’s good reason why twists feel so good. They energize us while also bringing us into a state of calm. They help move impurities out of the system while also supporting spinal and back health. Practice reclining, seated and standing twists every day to keep your body/mind regularly detoxified and energized.