The onset of summer is a fantastic time to add a little detox yoga to your regular routine. As the temperature rises, releasing toxins from the body also releases heat and inflammation. The healthier our digestion, our circulation, and our elimination, the cooler we’ll remain (both in mind and in body). Enter the twist. Twisting puts the pressure of breathing deeply into the belly, helping to wring out all of the old blood and toxins. When you untwist, fresh blood rushes back in, bringing oxygen to the entire organ system.
Feel free to try any (or all!) of these dynamic twists.
Twisted Root/Reclining Twist
Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet planted on the floor. Stretch your arms out to your sides in the shape of a T. Inhale. As you exhale, let your knees drop to the left and turn your head to the right. Try and get that right shoulder as close to the mat as possible. If this is pretty easy for you, bring your knees back to center and cross your right leg over the left, then drop them again to the left.
Stay as long as you like and breathe deeply, feeling the breath reach deeply into the digestive organs—exactly where you feel restriction of the twist in the belly. When you’re ready, bring your knees to center on an inhale, switch the crossed leg, exhale, and drop them to the other side.
Bharadvajasana I (Bharadvaja’s Twist)
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Shift on over to the right hip and swing both legs to the left, bent at the knee, feet curled around the outside of the hip.
Now, inhale and lift through the spine. Straight spines are crucially important in twists, so if this is uncomfortable for you on the floor, add a blanket under the hips or move to a chair. Exhale and twist to the right. It’s important to twist on the exhale, making so much more space for the body’s movement and squeezing into those internal organs.. Try to keep that left sitting bone/hip close to the floor.
Now, reach the left hand across to the right knee, and the right hand rests behind you, on the floor, for support. Alternatively, that right hand can create a bind by holding on to the left elbow, if you have that kind of flexibility.
Your head can follow the twist, looking to the back of the room, or you can counter-twist toward the front. Do whatever feels best. Keep breathing—we’ve already learned that the breath helps pump the digestive organs here as well as bring energy to the spine. Stay thirty seconds to a minute and exit on an exhale. Repeat on the other side.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes)
Sit on the floor in Dandasana (Staff Pose, with your legs out straight in front of you). Now, bend the right leg, knee pointing to the ceiling. Cross the right foot over the left leg, and then bend your left knee, swinging the left heel over by the right hip (it’s okay to keep the left leg straight, too, if that’s more comfortable).
Now, take a deep inhale (remember that straight spine?), then exhale and twist to the right, hugging the right knee against your chest. Keep the belly engaged (i.e. low belly drawn in toward the spine) and keep breathing. Every inhale straightens the spine (even if it’s just a tiny movement) and every exhale wrings out the belly.
Stay here thirty seconds to a minute, then switch sides. Feel free to take a nice forward bend between rounds.
Lastly? Rest. Savasana (Corpse Pose) is our ultimate detoxification. After all, no healing can happen if we never rest.
Stay cool and enjoy these long summer days!