With Spring breaking through the Winter dreariness, so many of my Yoga students have told me they are raring to get back in to a more regular and structured routine. My best advice to all my students is that your practice doesn’t stop at class. Continuing your practice at home is so important to maintaining and sustaining your health and well-being.
So, with that said, here are my 5 favourite yoga twists that help to detoxify the body (and you can check out my previous posts here on how and why detoxifying is so important for you!). These poses can easily be done at home and if you feel you need any advice or assistance on these poses and the sequence in which they are practiced, please don’t hesitate to grab Gav or myself at the next class, we’d love to help you!
~ Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Seated Spinal Twist)
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. You may like to support your bottom with a booster or a folded blanket.
- Bend your knees and place both your feet on the floor.
- Slide your left foot under your right leg, to the outside of your right hip.
- Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. Your right knee will point directly up to the sky.
- Exhale and slowly and gently twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Take your right hand and press it against the floor. This should be just behind the right side of your bottom. Then set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh together so they are nice and snug.
- Actively and consciously, press your inner right foot in to the floor, release the right groin, and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen your tailbone in to the floor.
- In this pose, you have two options. You can turn your head to either the left OR the right. You should continue twisting your torso by turning to the right, or you might even like to counter the twist by turning your torso to the left and looking over your left shoulder, at your right foot.
- Each time you inhale, lift a little more through the sternum. You may like to push your fingers against the floor to help. With every exhalation, twist a little further and deeper.
** Notes: Breathe through your poses! You should start slowly, but aim to hold the pose for between 30 seconds to 1 minute; release from the pose by exhaling. Return to the start position and repeat on the opposite side.
~ Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog) with revolved twist
- Commence this pose on your hands and knees, taking care to align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Ensure that the fold of your wrists is running parallel with the top edge of your yoga mat. Also take care that you are pointing your middle fingers directly to the top edge of your mat.
- Stretch out your elbows, taking care to release and relax your upper back.
- Press and distribute your weight firmly through your palms and knuckles, spreading your fingers nice and wide. Take care to ensure that you have an even distribution of your weight across both hands.
- Now, exhale your breath as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor, in one nice fluid movement.
- Reach your pelvis up toward the sky and then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you.
- Gently begin to straighten your legs, but focus on not ‘locking’ your knees.
- Bring your body into the shape of an “A” (for Aimee! Ha!)
- Conjure images of your hips and thighs being pulled backwards from the top of your thighs. Now remember that A! We don’t need to walk the hands and feet closer together, we want to keep that nice A shape and see the extension through your whole body. This my yogi friends is Downward-Facing Dog.
- Inhaling, lift your left hand and reach it beneath your torso and around to your right thigh. Allow your torso and waist to twist open to the right. This move has two variations:
- Advanced: Work toward placing your left hand on the ground to the outside of your right foot.
- Beginner: Rest your hand on the outside of your right leg’s shin or upper thigh.
- Turn your head to look underneath your right arm. Keep your gaze soft.
- Advanced move: If you have no neck pain, gaze up at the sky.
- Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths.
- To release from the pose, inhale your breath as you un-twist and return your left hand to the mat.
- Come back into Downward-Facing Dog.
- Repeat the pose on the other side for the same amount of time, before finally returning to Downward-Facing Dog again.
~ Revolved Lunge Pose
- Start in Lunge Pose with your right leg facing forward. Now, bring your palms together and place at your heart center. With your left knee lifted, push your left heel back and reach the crown of your head forwards to lengthen your side body and your spine.
- Take a nice deep breath and as you begin to exhale, twist towards your right leg. Keeping your palms together, place your left tricep on your right thigh, attempting to get the torso as close to your leg as possible (but remembering to practice within your limits!)
- To engage your arms, push your palms together and try to twist in deeper, sending your chest in the direction of the sky and shifting your gaze upwards and over your right shoulder.
- Now, there are choices:
- Stay here; OR
- Extend your left fingertips down to the ground on the outside of your right leg, and reach your right fingertips up to the sky.
- Stay here for up to 60 seconds.
- To exit, unwind from the pose, placing your hands down on the mat. Step back to Downward Facing Dog Pose.
- Repeat with the left leg forwards.
~ Revolved Chair Pose
- Commence in Mountain Pose. Stand with your feet together, with your big toes touching. Beginners may like to stand with their feet a hip-distance apart.
- Inhale and raise your arms above your head, at a 90 degree angle to the floor.
- As you bend your knees, exhale and bring your thighs as parallel to the floor as you are able. Your knees will project out slightly over your feet and your torso will form a right angle over your thighs. We know this as Chair Pose.
- Now, lowering your arms and bring your palms together at your heart centre.
- Slowly exhaling, twist your torso to the right. Bring your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh.
- Carefully shift your left hip back slightly, squaring off your hips. Bring your knees in to alignment.
- Press your upper left arm against your thigh, bringing your right shoulder blade into your back to turn your chest to the right.
- For a more advanced move, extend both of your arms, reaching your right fingertips to the ceiling and your left fingertips to the mat. You can also place your left hand on a block for assistance.
- Turn your gaze to the ceiling. If you have your arms extended outwards, you may wish to focus your gaze at your top thumb.
- Bring your hips down even lower. Lengthen your spine even further on your inhalations and twist even deeper on your exhalations. Stack your top shoulder above your bottom shoulder. Draw your thumbs to your heart, and your heart toward your thumbs.
- Focus on ensuring you have balanced your weight in your heels, keeping your feet pressing firmly together.
- Hold the pose for up to 60 seconds. Inhale as you return to your center, reaching both arms overhead in Chair Pose.
- Straighten your legs, lifting through your arms. Exhale to release back to Mountain Pose.
- Repeat on the other side.
~ Revolved Abdomen Pose
- To commence this pose, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You can rest your head on a pillow or blanket.
- Bring your knees to your chest and wrap your arms around them.
- Extend your arms out along the floor at shoulder-height with your palms facing down. Straighten your legs, reaching your heels up toward the ceiling. Align your heels directly over your hips. Keep your knees soft and slightly bent.
- Draw your low back down, so it is flat on the floor. On an exhalation, lower your legs to the right, twisting your spine and allowing your left hip to lift all the way off the floor. Allow the force of gravity to drop your legs all the way down. Allow your right foot to rest on the floor.
- Stack the outer edge of your left ankle on top of your right.
- Work toward bringing your torso and legs into a 90-degree angle, or slightly less. If your legs are angled up toward your right shoulder, you can clasp your left foot’s toes with your right hand’s fingers.
- Turn your head to the left, bringing your gaze toward your left hand’s fingertips. Keep your shoulder blades pressing down toward the floor and making a conscious effort to keep those shoulders away from your ears.
- Hold the pose for 10-25 breaths. On an inhalation, slowly come back to your center. Raise your feet straight up to the ceiling. Bend your knees and hug them to your chest.
- On an exhalation, reach your heels up to the ceiling again.
- Repeat the above on the opposite side.
- When you’re finished with the pose, hug your knees to your chest for a few breaths, slowly exhaling and bringing your knees to your chest. Slowly exhale your breath as you extend your legs flat along the floor.