What Can Yoga Teach Us

About a Great Way to Detox?


September 2019 Issue
by Marilynn Preston

OK, here’s a bit of silliness to start your dendrites dancing: What do Chubby Checker and every yoga class in the world have in common?

Think now. (If you’re wondering who Chubby Checker is ... YouTube.) Yes! It’s “The Twist.”

Chubby Checker made twisting a wildly popular dance in the ‘50s, but for thousands of years before him, yogis were doing twists as part of their daily bliss-making practice: deep, penetrating twists around the spinal column that are done standing up or sitting down, upside-down or right-side-up, by slowly, gently twisting to the left and then slowly, gently twisting the opposite way, moving as far as you can, coming to your edge ... but not powering through.

So, you may ask: What’s the purpose of turning yourself into a pretzel?

While classic aerobic sports—running, swimming, biking—are great for cardiovascular conditioning, they don’t get into the nooks and crannies of your inner being the way a good twist will.

Are you interested in a stronger core? Greater flexibility? A way to activate the nourishing fluid that runs like a river up and down your spine and helps keep it supple and spacious?

You don’t have to be a yogi to benefit from this column on twists. And it will help you understand why I consider yoga such a wondrous workout, one that’s designed to benefit every cell of your body.

Lots of folks who do yoga focus only on the outward appearance of the pose—e.g., Twisted Triangle, Cobra and Downward Dog. Just as important—more important in many ways—is what is going on inside your body as you bring your awareness to each asana, using your strength and breath to create space, circulate energy and promote fluidity in body parts and places that feel stuck and stagnant.

TWISTS STIR YOUR JUICES. On a physical level, when you do a twist, you are giving your organs and glands a good wringing out, followed by a good soaking.

Think of a sponge. First, you squeeze it dry. Then you release it, and it soaks up all the fluid around it. Different postures work different vital areas—lower back, kidneys, hips, liver, heart—but the one thing that all twists have in common is that they flush out the toxins and stagnant fluids and bring in fresh, healing blood.

YOGA IS PREVENTIVE MEDICINE. A few twists a day really can help keep the doctor away. Spinal twists lubricate, nourish and increase the elasticity of the muscles and ligaments of your spine. They massage your internal organs. Twists help balance your nervous system and alleviate stress. They can aid in digestion and elimination and help prevent backache.

So now you understand why twists are so therapeutic. Next, you need to learn how to do them correctly, or you can really hurt yourself. Do your research and find an experienced yoga teacher who can help you move through your poses with body awareness, prompting you to tune into every sensation, which is your body’s way of talking to you and telling you when to ease up, when to stop.

Mindless twisting can easily lead to too much pressure and strain on your body. That’s when injuries can happen—injuries you can prevent if you spend time with a good teacher who helps you understand and respect your limits. Happily, mindful yoga classes are now proliferating like kombucha smoothies.
With practice, you’ll learn to use your breath to maximize your twists. And when you learn to surrender to the resistance of a twist, you have learned something about surrendering to life, letting go of old, stagnant energy to make room for life-giving, joy-making fluids to rush in.

YOGA FOR NON-YOGIS. My sister reminds me from time to time that I write too much about yoga. “Not everyone is interested,” she says. And she’s probably right. But an interest in using twists to detoxify, to reenergize, is a different matter. That’s just plain smart.


“Do you remember when things were really hummin’?
Yeaaaah, let’s twist again! Twistin’ time is here!”
- Chubby Checker -

Marilynn Preston is the author of “Energy Express,” America’s longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new Amazon best-seller “All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being” is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com. ©

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