You might have wondered why yoga teachers love to incorporate twists into class. There is a purpose behind those pretzel-y poses... Some yogis believe that twists are a cure-all. I can't say there is scientific proof of that, but I can say that twists are great for improving the health of your organs (and for regular bathroom trips)!
Breakdown of how it works: When you twist your torso, your organs get compressed (like a mini-massage). After releasing the twist, fresh blood rushes into those organs, which improves function of your vital body parts. This is why you might have heard that twists are "detoxifying." As vampires know, fresh blood is great for the body! A noticeable side effect of twists for many of us will be increased bowel movements.
Some tips on getting the full benefits of twisting, if you plan to add them to your daily routine (why not?)
1. Always twist your torso to the right first (i.e. lower body will be on the left side of your torso), then twist your torso to the left. This is important because the ascending colon is on your right side and the descending colon lies on the left side. Twisting right to left allows food/waste to move along in the proper direction. If you twist your torso to the left first, you might move waste the wrong way and cause constipation instead!
2. Keep the twist in your upper spine. Twisting from your lumbar (lower spine) may cause injury. There's no need to over-twist your spine to get the full benefits. Gentle twists will also stimulate your organs.
3. Twist on the exhale. It's just more natural to compress your torso when the air has left your lungs rather than twisting when your lungs are full.
4. Continue to re-lengthen the spine on your inhales before twisting on your exhales.
5. Avoid twists when you're pregnant (open twists are okay though - you mostly want to avoid squishing the baby).