Twisting Poses to Cleanse and Detoxify

twist cover

Both athletic and restful, twisting poses offer wonderful benefits for the muscular and skeletal systems, preventing stiffness and injury by improving the spine’s range of movement. They are also extremely helpful in our efforts to detoxify physically and mentally, encouraging the inner organs to expel waste, thus clearing stagnant energy that impedes digestion and a peaceful, effective thought process.

I think of each twisting pose basically as a massage for the inner organs. The twisting motion literally wrings out impurities from the body’s systems, and the compression of the abdomen against the upper thighs increases healthy blood and oxygen flow for improved digestion, immunity, and hormone balance.

Spring is a time of year we when renewing energy and clearing space are particularly important. Here are three of my favorite basic twisting poses, accessible to people at any level of practice and very useful for purifying the body as we enter a new season!

Seated Spinal Twist

seated twist

Getting into the Pose:

From a seated position, extend your legs out. Bring your right knee up with the soul of your foot on the floor. Place your right hand next to you or behind you and sit upright. Beginning at the base of the spine, rotate to the right, bringing your left forearm around to hold your right shin.

Holding the Pose

Use core strength against your arm to deepen the twist. Lengthen your spine with every inhale; twist further with every exhale. Switch sides.


If your lower back rounds, sit on a rolled up yoga mat or folded blanket.

Take it to the next level: Use core strength to deepen the twist. Place your left elbow outside your right knee. Hold and breathe.

Twisting Chair

twisting chair

Getting into the Pose

Start in Chair pose. Lengthen your spine and place your hands in prayer position over your heart. Twist from the waist, placing your elbow on the outside of the opposite thigh.

Holding the Pose

Engage your core to support your lower back. Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, twist. Keep your knees together as you release deeper into rotation.


Place one hand on the opposite thigh, the other on the lower back.

Take it to the next level: Place your bottom hand on the floor outside your foot. Reach up with your top arm as you roll your chest toward the sky.

Twisting Lunge

twisting lunge

Getting into the Pose

From a lunge position with your right foot forward, place your left hand on the floor close to the inside of your right foot. Stack your right knee over your right ankle. With a straight spine, sweep your right arm up, reaching toward the sky.

Holding the Pose

Press through your back heel. Keep your chest close to your forward knee as you twist from the waist. Look up. Switch sides.


Drop your back knee to the mat for a Kneeling Lunge.

Place your bottom hand on a block to help lengthen the spine for rotation.

Take it to the next level: Try a variation called the Twisting Prayer Lunge: Do a Kneeling Lunge, place your hands in prayer position over your heart. Rotate, placing the back of your arm against the outside of your forward thigh. Lift your back knee off the mat and look up for Twisting Prayer Lunge.

These are excellent poses for letting go of excess wintertime baggage in the form of stress or midline bulk and for alleviating back pain. If you suffer from issues with your back, be extra careful to come in and out of the pose gently and listen to your body’s needs. I recommend avidly incorporating these poses into your practice, especially if you are doing a cleanse, as they will support your body’s efforts to rid itself of impurities.

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