Why Yoga Twists & Lateral Bends Are Good For You

If I told you that you had to follow the same straight and narrow path through life, would that worry you? I know I couldn’t be so rigid – what would happen to spontaneity, serendipity, and synchronicity?

The road to parenthood was long and rocky. A straight path would have been so much easier. Even so, I am grateful for the opportunities, lessons, and growth I have gained through life’s bumps, bends, and twists.

Yoga twists and lateral bendings can help you become more flexible and open. What happens on your mat will carry over into the rest of your life.

There are many reasons why I enjoy side-bending and twisting.

Spinal Length, Strength and Flexibility

It’s good to have a tall posture. However, by twisting the spine or bending it sideways, you can open up the spaces that are compressed due to poor posture.

Spiraling strengthens the small, deep multifidus muscles/fascias that surround the outside of your spine. This helps with spinal stability.


Twisting through the waist has a compressive effect on the abdominal organs – the stomach, liver, and gallbladder. When you turn through the waist, the blood supply to the digestive tract is cut off. You’re wringing your body out like a dirty sponge.

Improved Digestion

Your body can process food nutrients more effectively when toxins are flushed, and new blood and oxygen flow into your digestive tract.

The upper body is lighter.

When you increase the space between vertebrae, you will also open the chest, increasing the respiratory capacity. You can breathe deeper by opening up the long side of the rib cage, especially in lateral bends.

If you are twisting or side-bending, the trick is to lift your waist and let your shoulders round forward rather than softening backward. It would be best if you took good posture when you bend or twist and not dump your weight on your hips.

Deep Breath Exercise

In twists, lateral bends, and forward bends, we can really appreciate the breath/movement relationship. With your inhale, you can feel the strength and length of the posture. You can also feel the compression and release of the exhale.

Fresh Perspective

We always twist one way or the other to keep our balance. You get a 360-degree view of your own life when you bend to either side (as we always do because we want to be balanced! Imagine that turning to look behind you is a chance to reflect on your past. Then, when you face forward again, you can use the lessons you have learned to move forward.

Twists and bends are accessible to everyone.

The Best Twisting Postures


Bananasana is a yin posture that restores the body. It’s a good street’s the IT Band (that tight band of fascia/ligament running from the hip down to the shin). This posture makes me think of my body as a smiley face. This posture is great for opening the underarm and shoulder on the side that’s stretched. That’s the Lord of the Fishes/Half Spinal Twist.

 I love the feeling of my spine lengthening in this seated position and the twisting of the neck in either the same direction or the opposite direction.

If you have the option, adding an arm-binding action will increase the abdominal squeeze.

 Reclined Belly Twist

This is a great way to finish a yoga class. I love the massage effect on the lower back and the stretch of the hip.

Which ones do you always include in your yoga practice? Which ones are always part of your yoga practice? Below, share your favorites!

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *