A twist-heavy practice is yoga’s ancient answer to the modern passion for detoxes and cleanses. Twists are thought to wring out the body, forcing out toxins and cleansing the organs. They’re a great remedy for bloating, constipation and other digestive issues.
Hold each pose for 5–10 breaths to help ease yesterday’s excess.
1. EASY SEATED POSE WITH A TWIST
Adding a twist to this posture increases spinal rotation, strength and flexibility. Alternating between compressing and stretching the torso is thought to help with circulation and digestion.
The Move: Cross one leg in front of the other so you’ve created a triangle in the space between. Now sit tall and broaden your chest as if you were wearing a medal. Relax your shoulders and place your hands on your thighs. Relax your eyes and focus on your breath.
To add the twist, inhale and reach your arms to the sky. Exhale and twist to the right, taking the left hand to the outside of your right thigh. Rest your right fingers on the floor behind your right hip. Hold here for 5 breaths. On an inhale, return to center. Exhale and twist to the left.
2. DOWN DOG WITH A TWIST
According to yogic tradition, twisting your torso massages and tones internal organs, removing toxins and improving metabolism and digestion.
The Move: Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Slide your palms forward so they rest in front of your shoulders and tuck your toes under. As you exhale, press your palms into the floor and lift your knees off the ground, working to straighten the arms and legs. Your body will form a wide, upside-down V shape.
To add the twist, take your feet to the wide edge of the mat and walk your hands back halfway so you’re in a short down dog. On an inhale, reach your right hand for your left thigh, shin or ankle. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
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3. LOW LUNGE WITH A TWIST
This variation of low lunge stretches quads and hips, relieves tension in the low back, challenges your balance and stimulates digestion.
The Move: From down dog, inhale and lift your right leg behind you. Exhale and plant the right foot between your hands and lower your left knee to the ground. On your next inhale, lift your torso to center. As you exhale, reach your left arm forward and right arm behind you. Come into an open-arm twist to the right. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale to center, exhale to down dog, and repeat on the other side.
4. CHAIR TWIST
Chair pose is also known as fierce pose and, boy, is it. Chair is a killer move for the thighs and glutes. Add the twist, and you’ll get an extra digestive boost.
The Move: Stand at the top of your mat. On an exhale, sink your hips back, coming into chair. Glue your thighs together and bring your palms to touch in a prayer position. As you inhale, broaden your chest and lengthen your spine. On your next exhale, twist to the right, hooking your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh. Press your high hand into your lower hand to help align your thumbs with the center of your chest. Glance down at your knees and make sure they’re even, because there is a tendency for one to pop forward.
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5. BOAT TWISTS
Boat is the ultimate core pose. It works the abdominals, back, oblique muscles, hips and thighs. It improves balance, aids digestion and hopefully makes you feel strong and powerful.
The Move: Sit on your mat, bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor. Gently hold onto the backs of your thighs and lean back slightly. Lengthen through your spine and pull your abdominals in to avoid collapsing in your chest. Lift both feet so they create a straight line between your heels and knees. You can hold onto your thighs or let go, extending your arms out parallel to your legs. Keep your chin off your chest and your abdominals engaged, pulling in as if your belly button could kiss your spine.
Add the twist by extending your arms in front of you, just above your legs. As you exhale, twist to the right, taking your arms just past the right knee. On your next inhale, come back to center. Exhaling, twist to the left and inhaling, return to center. Repeat 3–5 times on each side.