10 Healing Yoga Twists for Stress, Insomnia and Other Common Pain

Rotate your way into one (or more) of these healing poses to naturally ease stress, insomnia, and more.

Twisting yoga poses don’t just feel amazing, they also do amazing things for your body.

Yoga twists often involve the spine, hips, and shoulders, helping to strengthen and mobilize those parts of your body. Twisting also stimulates circulation and helps detoxify the body by compressing the organs. Once we release the twist, fresh blood flows in, carrying oxygen and the building blocks for tissue healing.

Research shows that yoga twists can offer relief from a wide range of issues, including insomnia, asthma, diabetes and even cancer. (1)

Check out these 10 gentle yoga twists to help prevent and ease symptoms of a variety of ailments. These gentle yoga twists can be done daily for maximum benefits.

For Anxiety

Revolved Standing Forward Bend | 8 breaths per side

The forward folding motion of this feel-good twist helps to calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety.

  1. Start standing. Fold forward with a flat back, bending your knees as much as you need to touch your hands to the ground or a yoga block.
  2. Place your right hand down in front of your feet. Bend your right knee and straighten your left leg.
  3. Inhale to lift your chest slightly to flatten your back. Then, twist and reach your left hand towards the sky. Gently bump your hips to the left.
  4. Hold for eight breaths, then switch sides.

For Low Back Pain

Revolved Triangle | 8 breaths per side

This standing pose relieves chronic lower back pain by strengthening the core and increasing spinal flexibility.

  1. Begin in a forward fold at the top of your mat with your hands touching the ground. Keep a block nearby.
  2. Step your left foot back a few feet and turn the toes out at a 45-degree angle. Make sure your left heel is on the ground.
  3. Place the block on the inside of your right foot and rest your left hand on the block. Inhale to lift your chest a little and reach your right arm towards the sky. Engage your abs.
  4. Hold for eight breaths, then switch sides.

For Stress

Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose | 8 breaths per side

The combination of a seated forward fold and a twist in this pose helps to calm the nervous system and reduce stress.

  1. Begin seated. Straighten your right leg towards the top right edge of your mat and place your left foot on your inner right thigh.
  2. Inhale to reach your arms above your head, sitting up tall. Exhale to twist to the left. Place your right palm on your outer left thigh and your left hand on the ground behind your left hip.
  3. Stay in this twist as you inhale and reach your left arm up and over your head, towards your right foot. Gaze towards the sky.
  4. Hold for eight breaths. Release on an inhale, then switch sides.

For Asthma

Seated Half Twist | 8 breaths

This twist opens up the chest, creating more space for oxygen to enter the lungs and decreasing the occurrence of asthma attacks.

  1. Start seated on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee and cross your right leg over your left, bringing your foot just outside your left thigh. Rest your right hand behind your right hip.
  3. Inhale to reach your left arm up towards the sky, lengthening your spine. Then, exhale to twist right, hooking your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh.
  4. Hold for eight deep breaths, keeping a long spine the entire time. Switch sides.

For Sciatica

Bharadvaja’s Twist | 8 breaths per side

This pose gently opens the outer hips and lower back, relieving tightness in the muscles that cause sciatica.

  1. Sit with your knees bent and your feet hip-width distance apart on the ground.
  2. Slowly lower both knees to the right, so that your left thigh ends up on top of your right calf or ankle.
  3. Place your right hand down behind your right hip and place your left hand on your outer right thigh. Inhale to sit up tall, then exhale to twist a little deeper.
  4. Hold for eight breaths, then switch sides.

For Insomnia

Supine Twist | 10 breaths per side

This relaxing pose helps to calm the nervous system to induce sleep.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight down the mat.
  2. Hug your right knee into your chest, keeping your left leg straight. Take a deep inhale, then exhale to guide your right thigh across your body to come into a twist.
  3. Straighten your right arm out to the right and try to keep the shoulder close to the ground. You can place your left hand on your outer right thigh to deepen the twist. You can look straight up or over your right shoulder.
  4. Close your eyes and relax for 10 breaths, then switch sides.

For Upper Back Pain

Thread the Needle | 8 breaths per side

This pose helps to relieve painful tightness in the upper back and shoulders.

  1. Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  2. Side your right hand between your left hand and left knee, so that your right shoulder and right side of your head rest comfortably on the mat.
  3. Walk your left fingers towards the top of the mat to straighten the left arm. If you don’t feel a stretch through the right side of your upper back, roll onto your right shoulder a little bit more.
  4. Hold for eight breaths, then walk your left palm back under your left shoulder and press back up to a tabletop. Switch sides.

For Detoxification

Chair Twist | 5 breaths per side

This pose helps to stimulate the kidneys and liver, providing them with fresh oxygenated blood to flush out toxins.

  1. Begin standing on your mat with your big toes touching and about half an inch of space between your heels.
  2. Bend your knees and sit your hips back to come into a chair pose. Keep the weight back in your heels and bring your palms together at heart center.
  3. Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale to twist to the right. Hook your left tricep onto your outer right thigh. Keep your hips square, your spine straight and your shoulders stacked above your hips. If that isn’t possible, stay upright in a twist without hooking your arm.
  4. Hold for five slow breaths, then switch sides.

For Spinal Misalignment

Half Prayer Twist | 5 breaths per side

This yoga pose can help bring the spine back into alignment.

  1. Start in a low lunge on your mat with your right foot forward. Frame your right foot with your hands. Engage your abs and press your hips forward, keeping your knee stacked over the ankle.
  2. Walk your hands up your right thigh and lift your chest. Then bring your hands to heart center.
  3. Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale to twist to the right. Hook your left tricep onto your outer right thigh. Keep the back of your neck long and your hips square.
  4. Hold for five breaths. With every inhale, lengthen your spine. With every exhale, twist deeper.
  5. Hold for five breaths, then switch sides.

For Menstrual Cramps

Child’s Pose Twist | 10 breaths per side

This yoga pose calms the central nervous system, relieving painful period cramps.

  1. Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Take your knees out wide towards the edges of your yoga mat. Bring your big toes together to touch.
  2. Lower your hips onto your heels. Walk your hands towards the top of your mat and lower your chest and forehead down.
  3. Thread your right arm underneath your left arm to come into a twist. Your right shoulder and the right side of your head should rest on the ground. Bend your left arm and reach it behind your lower back.
  4. Close your eyes and take 10 slow breaths. Switch sides.

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