Yoga For Spinal Health and Detox

I recently hosted an Instagram challenge based on yoga poses that assist in spinal health and detox qualities. I know that not everyone follows me on Instagram, so I wanted to bring these poses to my blog as well.

Spinal Health Yoga Sequence

All of the poses that follow are related to alignment of the spine, and the muscle engagement that is required to develop good posture. In addition to spinal health, another benefit of twisting poses is that they help improve digestion, and can quite literally wring out unwanted toxins and gunk from the lining of the intestinal tract.

Hatha Yoga Sequence for Spinal Health and Detox

Parivrtta Vajrasana

Revolved Thunderbolt Pose

Parivrtta-Vajrasana

  1. Stand on your shins with your knees and toes together, and sit back on your heels.
  2. Reach your arms overhead, and lengthen your core upwards.
  3. Twist to your right. Reach your left arm across to grab your right thigh. Place your right fingertips behind your toes.
  4. Draw your shoulder blades back, lift your chest higher, then exhale and twist more. Look over your right shoulder. Take your eyes to the right.
  5. Lengthen on the inhale, deepen on the exhale.
  6. Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Parivrtta Anjaneyasana

Revolved Low Lunge Pose

Parivrtta Anjaneyasana

  1. Step into a lunge, and lower your back knee to the floor.
  2. Reach upwards and lengthen your torso – lift your ribs away from your hips.
  3. Revolve and bring your opposite elbow over your forward leg.
  4. Join your palms together and pull your thumbs towards your sternum.
  5. Lean back slightly, lift your chest up towards your chin, and twist more as you exhale.
  6. Take your gaze up, and focus softly to help balance. Spend several breaths here, and repeat on the other side.

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

Revolved Extended Side Angle Pose

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana

  1. Step into a lunge, and lower your back knee to the floor.
  2. Reach upwards and lengthen your torso – lift your ribs away from your hips.
  3. Revolve and bring your opposite elbow over your forward leg.
  4. Join your palms together and pull your thumbs towards your sternum.
  5. Lean back slightly, lift your chest up towards your chin, and twist more as you exhale.
  6. Steady your gaze to balance, and slowly lift your back knee up. Engage the muscles of the back leg.
  7. Slowly take your gaze up.
  8. If your arm pit is outside the knee, you may be deep enough in the twist to try extending your arms. Spend several breaths here, and repeat on the other side.

Parivrtta Trikonasana

Revolved Triangle Pose

Parivrtta Trikonasana

  1. Stand in Tadasana facing the long edge of your mat.
  2. Step your feet about 3 ft apart. Raise your arms in line with your shoulders.
  3. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, turn your left foot in 60 degrees.
  4. Rotate your entire trunk to your right, and bring your left palm to a block or to the floor inside the right foot, or more challenging to the outside of the right foot.
  5. Root down into your feet. Square your hips. Keep your knees tight. Lengthen your spine, and rotate more.
  6. Keep the eyes focused on your right thumb, and try to breathe normally.
  7. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths.
  8. Come out on an inhale, and rotate the spine back to neutral.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana

Revolved Half Moon Pose

Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana

  1. Begin from yesterday’s Revolved Triangle Pose.
  2. Look at your front foot. Bend your front knee, and reach forward beyond your foot with your lower hand. If you used a block with Revolved Triangle, then use it here well.
  3. Move weight into your front foot, and drag the back foot closer.
  4. Straighten the front leg, and float the back foot up.
  5. Engage the back leg as if you were standing on it, and lift the back of the thigh up.
  6. Use your core to lengthen your spine as much as possible, and rotate your chest upwards. Lengthen through your arms, your legs, and the crown of your head.
  7. Stay 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat on the other side.

Tip: If balancing is giving you trouble, get creative with a wall to lean against. There, you can focus on developing the core work that is required to maintain the shape of this pose, and develop spinal health.

Garudasana

Eagle Pose

Garudasana

  1. Stand in Tadasana at the top of your mat.
  2. Slightly bend into your right knee, and raise your left leg.
  3. Cross your left thigh over your right. Bring your left foot to wrap around the right calf. If the left foot doesn’t reach, it’s fine to let hang. Tip: Squeeze the inner thighs together fiercely, and slightly rotate your hips to the right to get the extra reach with your left foot. Don’t forget to re-square your hips forward.
  4. You are now balancing on one foot. This may take practice to master. Focus your gaze softly on one point to assist in balance.
  5. Cross your left arm under your right arm, and try to cross back at the wrist. If the wrist cross will not happen, it is fine to squeeze the forearms together.
  6. Draw your shoulders back, lift your elbows up, pull your hands forward.
  7. Stay here for 5 to 10 breaths and release into Tadasana before repeating on the other side.

Parivrtta Utkatasana

Revolved Chair Pose

Parivrtta-Utkatasana

  1. From forward fold, lift half way and lengthen your spine.
  2. Bend your knees until your low ribs touch your thighs.
  3. Move weight into your heels, and squeeze your inner thighs together fiercely.
  4. Inhale, reach your arms overhead, and stretch your torso up.
  5. Exhale, join your palms and rotate your torso to the right to place your left triceps to the outside of your right thigh.
  6. Pull your left hip back to square your knees. Move your chest towards your chin to lengthen your spine. Exhale, and twist more.
  7. Take your gaze up, and stay 5 to 10 breaths before repeating on the other side.

Parsva Bakasana

Side Crow Pose

Parsva Bakasana

  1. From Revolved Chair Pose, look down and reach your lower arm to the ground outside of your foot.
  2. Reach your top hand out to the ground a shoulder’s width distance away from your lower hand.
  3. Lean forward, and look forward.
  4. Turn your closest elbow back like in chaturanga.
  5. Lift your hips up, squeeze your inner thighs together, lift your feet, and spread your toes.
  6. Balance.
  7. Stay for 3 to 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Beginner tip: You may find it easier to bend the outside elbow instead of straightening it. Work to turn both elbows back and avoid letting them flare out to the sides.

Parivrtta Navasana

Revolved Boat Pose

Parivrtta Navasana

  1. Sit on your mat with your knees bent. Widen your sit bones.
  2. Grab the backs of your thighs, and lean back.
  3. Use your back muscles to draw your shoulder blades towards each other. Use your core to lift your chest up.
  4. Choose whether you will release your thighs, or straighten your legs. This can be done without doing either.
  5. Revolve your upper body to one side. Stretch your back arm back. If you released the front leg, stretch the front arm forward. You must continue to draw the shoulders back and lift the chest up.
  6. Focus your gaze in the direction you want to twist.
  7. Spend a few breaths here before repeating on the other side.

Ardha Matsyendrasana

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Ardha Matsyendrasana

  1. From seated with bent knees, reach under your right leg with your right hand to grab your left ankle. Guide your left heel to the outside of your right hip. Grab your right ankle with your left hand and guide your right foot over your left thigh.
  2. Try to maneuver both buttocks down, and root down into your feet.
  3. Reach your left arm up, and stretch your left side.
  4. Exhale, turn your torso 90 degrees to the right and hook your left triceps to the outside of your right thigh. If you are unable to hook, then wrap your left arm around your right thigh.
  5. Place your right hand to the ground behind you.
  6. Inhale, draw your shoulders back and lift your chest up. Exhale, turn and twist more. Take your eyes to the right as well.
  7. Stay calm and continue breath for several breaths before releasing to repeat on the other side.

Eka Pada Koundinyasana I

Pose Dedicated to Sage Koundin

  1. From Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, look forward and come up onto your lower front knee.
  2. Plant your hands under your shoulders, and turn your elbows back like chaturanga.
  3. Lean forward, look forward, and stretch your legs apart to try to lift them off the ground.
  4. Spread through your toes and try to draw your shoulders back and move your chest forward. Lengthening the spine will help you balance.
  5. Stay for a couple of breaths, and see if you can transition back to Half Lord of the Fishes Pose before repeating on the other side.
Tip: This can be a challenging transition. Fully develop your twist in Half Lord of the Fishes before trying the arm balance. Also, it’s OK if the feet don’t come off the floor at first. Keep building strength in your core, and your spinal health will improve!

Parivrtta Upavistha Konasana

Revolved Wide Seated Angle Pose Parivrtta Upavistha Konasana
  1. From seated, take your legs wide.
  2. Flex your toes towards your body, and firm up your legs. Bring your hands behind your hips, and scoot your bottom forward a little more to slightly increase the angle.
  3. Reach up and lengthen your spine, then laterally bend to your right to (1) bring your right elbow to your thigh, or (2) bring your right elbow to the floor inside your right thigh.
  4. Work to extend your right arm to grab the inside your right foot.
  5. Inhale, and lengthen your left side body, then exhale, and stretch your left hand over your torso towards your right foot.
  6. If you can grab the outside of your right foot with your left hand, then work to rotate your chest up towards the sky.
  7. Look up from under your left arm and breathe for 5 to 10 breaths. Release on an inhale and repeat on the other side.
Tip: Approach each stage of this pose as you’re ready for it. There is no need to force anything, and it’s fine to stop where you need to and breathe. Spinal health never comes from forcing a pose, but rather exquisitely understanding the muscles that are involved with alignment. Practice, and all will come!

Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana

Compass Pose Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana
  1. From a seated, cross-leg position, lift your right leg and reach under it with your right arm. Get the leg as far over the arm as possible, preferably over shoulder.
  2. Place your right hand on the ground outside your right hip.
  3. Grab your outer right foot with your left hand.
  4. Begin to straighten your right leg, and take your left arm over your head, and look up. It’s OK to keep the knee bent.
  5. Stay up on your sit bones, and lengthen your spine. Use back muscles draw shoulders back, and then lift your chest up.
  6. Stay for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.
Tip: This pose requires deep hamstring opening, so feel free to keep the knee bent. For straightening, use the top hand to pull into the foot, and push the foot into the hand to try to extend your leg.

Parivrtta Parighasana

Revolved Gate Pose Parivrtta Parighasana
  1. Stand on your knees in the center of your mat, facing the long edge. You may use a blanket under your knees for comfort.
  2. Extend your right leg and toes towards the short edge of your mat. If the foot does not come flat to the floor, place a block under the foot, and push the foot down.
  3. Lean left, and place your left hand about a shoulder’s width from your left shin or ankle.
  4. Breathe in deeply and raise your right arm over your body. Externally rotate your upper left arm to increase shoulder stability, draw your shoulders back. Move your pelvis forward, and then lengthen the whole front side of your body.
  5. Reach through your right fingertips and focus your gaze on them while you breathe for several breaths.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

Parivrtta Ikapada Sirsasana

Revolved Split Legged Headstand Pose Parivrtta IkaPada Sirsasana 2 Variations of Instructions for Headstand and Non-headstand Non-Headstand
  1. From sitting on your shins, interlace your fingers to the knuckles, lean forward and place your elbows directly under your shoulders.
  2. Tuck your toes, lift your knees, and step your feet closer to your knees.
  3. Place the crown of your head to the floor so that the back of your head touches the heels of your palms.
  4. Draw the low tummy up to lift your hips higher.
  5. Take your feet 1 to 2 steps to your right. Consider lifting your right toes towards the sky.
  6. Continue to push into your forearms, and stay here and breathe for a couple of breaths.
  7. Repeat on the other side.
Headstand
  1. From headstand begin to revolve your hips to the right.
  2. Begin to separate the legs, extending your left leg forward, and taking the right leg back.
  3. Keep the legs, feet, and toes very active. Push your inner thighs up to keep your hips square.
  4. Stay calm, and continue to stretch your legs apart.
  5. Stay for several breaths.
  6. Slowly bring your legs back together, and revolve your hips back forward.
  7. Repeat on the other side. (Rest between sides if you need to).
Please Note: Going beyond your physical limits can be dangerous to your spinal health. Part of our yoga practice is taming the ego, that would otherwise push us beyond what we’re ready for.

Jathara Parivartanasana

Revolved Abdomen  Pose Jathara Parivartanasana This gentle twist helps to realign the spine to neutral after your practice.
  1. Lay on your back with bent knees.
  2. Push down into your feet to lift your hips.
  3. Move your hips several inches to the left, and set them back down.
  4. Allow your knees to fall to the right. Your spine should be long and somewhat centered along the mat.
  5. Try to keep both shoulder blades down, and take your head to the left.
  6. Notice where you are resisting, and try to soften into the twist rather than fight into it.
  7. Relax here for a number breaths and repeat on the other side.
If you’re interested in doing more yoga with me, I have ongoing weekly retreats, as well as 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Certifications on the island of Koh Phangan, in Thailand. Spinal health is always a topic that is discussed!

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