Yoga Pose: Detoxifying Spine Twist

Learn the benefits of including the detoxifying spine twist in your yoga practice and the proper technique to perform this yoga pose effectively and safely.

Detoxifying Spine Twist

This is the only posture that twists the spine from top to bottom, which increases circulation to all the spinal nerves, veins, and tissues, and improves the elasticity of the spine.

  • Compresses and stretches spine – improves elasticity and flexibility
  • Detoxifying
  • Opens bronchial muscles and rib cage
  • Increases circulation to spinal nerves, blood vessels and tissues
  • Massages kidneys, liver, gall bladder and spleen
  • Massages the abdominal organs, helping to relieve constipation, improve digestion


From the child’s pose, slowly roll your body up, bringing your head up last. At this point you will be sitting on your heels.

Drop your hips to the right of your feet so your sit bones are on the floor.

Bring the left leg over the right so that the foot is on the right side of the right leg with the foot as close in to the body as is comfortable. The closer in to the body the left foot is, the more difficult this posture is. For people with very inflexible hips, the half spinal twist can be done with the right leg completely straight. Be sure to always use the same leg position on both sides of the body.

Make sure that both sit bones are on the mat. If necessary move the right ankle away from the hips until you can feel both sit bones squarely on the surface of the mat.

Bring your left hand behind you and rest it on the floor.

Inhale and lift your right arm straight up over your head, stretching the spine upwards.

Exhale and turn the body to the left bringing the right arm outside the left knee. Look over the left shoulder.

Keep your spine straight and be sure to keep the weight of the body mainly on the spine and not on the left arm. More advanced students can actually lift the left arm from the floor, wrapping it around the back.

In the beginning it is not necessary to be able to hold onto your left ankle with your right hand. It is okay to leave your right arm straight from the knee, always working to move it closer in to the left ankle. You can also use your right hand to pull against your knee or calf of the opposite leg.

Make sure the shoulders stay parallel to the floor.

Try to make this an active posture, twisting the body a little bit more to the left on every exhale.
Be sure not to hold extra tension in the hips, shoulders and face, relaxing into the posture as much as possble to get a good twist. You should feel an equal stretch in every vertebrae of the spine.

Hold this posture for 30 seconds to begin with, working up to 2 minutes or more.

To come out of the posture inhale and lift the right arm over your head, stretch up, and exhale and release the hand back down to the mat.

Continue in opposite direction. To begin, return to the sitting posture on top of the heels. Hold this side of the body for the same length of time as the other side.

Dr. Elizabeth Rice, Naturopathic Physician, Arizona Natural Health Center

What is your favorite detoxifying yoga pose?

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Author: FizzNiche

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1 Comment

  1. Dr. Rice – thanks so much for sharing this pose with our readers!

    I did this after warming up during a Vinyasa practice last night and felt the tension in my back just melt away.

    I like that you suggest keeping the pose “active”, I know that I slack sometimes and sort of just slump over into this pose and that I end up getting nothing out of it!

    Again – thanks for sharing this with our readers!

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