You don’t have to go on a juice cleanse or crazy fast to detoxify your body. Wanna know a secret? Your body is detoxifying itself all the time. The liver, kidneys, skin, and other major organs already do that. If you feel like you need to cleanse after the holidays from too many Christmas cookies or glasses of wine, then the best thing you can do is to take actions to support your body so that it can perform its jobs at optimal levels. You are the supporting role in this detox movie, your body and organs play the staring role. Your job is to help your body so that it can carry out the detoxification process.
The best way naturally detoxify are to…
- Feed yourself foods that will strengthen and nourish your body.
- Drink enough water.
- Sweat and move on a regular basis.
- Make relaxation and rest a regular part of your routine.
So I want to share with you some of my favorite yoga poses to aid your body in detoxification. You will notice that most of these poses involve a twist. That is intentional! Twists are known to stimulate the digestive system and bring a fresh blood supply to the internal organs so that it can detoxify naturally. No pills or fasting bullshit here.
Wide Leg Forward Bend with a Twist
This pose stimulates the abdominal organs, improves digestion and helps to detoxify the body because of the forward bending and twisting action. It also lengthens the spine, helping decompress the vertebrae, opens the shoulders, strengthens the core and stretches the hamstrings, calves, hips and lower back.
Step your feet wide along your mat (a good judge of how far your feet should be is to stretch out arms out to the side and try to get your feet directly under your hands). Place your hands on your hips and hinge forward from your waist and place your hands on the floor or blocks. Let your head and neck hang loose. You may stay here or take a twist. You can do this two ways: one way is to keep your hand directly under your face and take the other hand directly up toward the sky, letting your torso turn to the side, OR (a slightly more advanced modification) is to take one hand to the opposite ankle (left hand to right ankle) and then extend the other arm up to the sky, turning your torso open. Stay here for 5-10 breaths.
Revolved Chair Pose
A powerful way to detoxify from food, alcohol, toxic thoughts…toxic men even? It also stretches the lower back and increases the flexibility of the spine and back. To come in to chair stand tall with your feet together. As you sweep your arms up along side your ears, sit your hips back and down. Make sure that your knees don’t come too far out over the toes. Once you are in chair take hands to heart center in prayer and hook one elbow over the opposite knee (right elbow hooks ofer left knee) and turn your torso open to the side. Press your palms together and use that as leverage to twist deeper. Keep pressing that elbow into the knee. With each exhale twist a little deeper and with each inhale elongate your spine, creating space between the vertebrae.
Triangle with Revolved Triangle
Because of the emphasis on the bend at the waist, triangle pose helps stimulate the abdominal organs and can aid in digestion, as well as strengthening your feet, ankles, and legs. Beginning at the top of your mat, step your left foot back and turn it out to the side of your mat (right foot stays pointed to the front of your mat). Turning your body to face the left side of the mat making sure your hips are facing that way too. Extend your arms out in opposing directions, one toward the front of your mat, and one toward the back. Slowly slide your torso toward the front of your mat and hinge from the waist bend over that front leg, keeping the arms straight. This is a more gentle twist, but if you want to take it a step further you take take revolved triangle by keeping your feet the same but turning your torso to the opposite side.
Shoulder Stand Into Plow
Shoulder stand is great for this time of the year because it aids in digestion. If you’ve been hard on the digestive system over the holidays then this is for you. It also helps relieve swollen legs by allowing gravity to pull excess fluids out of your legs and feet. I find that it helps with headaches too because reversing the effects of gravity on the body can alter blood pressure (just be careful if you have blood pressure issues before going this pose). Any posture that has your head moving toward your chest will help you cultivate an inward-focused energy, and will help soothe a racing mind, which is helpful if you are overwhelmed and stressed. Lastly, it helps improve circulation to the upper body and brain which will deliver more oxygen and nutrients to those parts via the bloodstream.
This one is best left to be done with an instructor if you are totally new, but the things to remember if you are familiar with this pose are to lift your chin so your cervical spine is not flat against the floor. It’s important to put your weight in your shoulders and the back of your arms so that the pressure is not on your spine. Place your hands on your lower back and keep lifting your hips.
If you want to take plow you may want to use a block if your feet don’t reach the floor. This one is a deep back stretch so move into it slowly. It is great for calming your mind, stimulating the abdominal organs and the thyroid gland, stretching the shoulders and spine, and relieving stress and fatigue.
Reclined Spinal Twist
A soothing restorative pose, reclined spinal twist can be held for longer periods of time. This twist encourages the flow of fresh blood to your digestive organs, increasing the health and function of your entire digestive system. It also stretches out the back and gluteus muscles and lengthens and realigns the spine.
Lay down on your mat with your legs extended out in front of you. Bring your knees into your chest to a tabletop position and gently let your knees fall to one side. The hip on the opposite side will come up and stack on top of the other hip. Your shoulders remain on the mat. There are many variations to take in this one such as only bending the top leg and straightening the bottom leg if the stretch is too deep. You can also turn your head to look to the opposite side so you get a full twist of the spine from bottom to top.
This pose improves digestion, and detoxifies the internal organs. This an be done two ways, in a high lunge or a low lunge. The only difference is in a ow lunge the back knee is resting on the mat. Come to either your high or low lunge with the front leg bent, and the back leg straight with the heel off the ground. Bring your hands into prayer pose. Hook your opposite elbow over the front leg (meaning if your right leg is in front then hook the left elbow over it and vice versa) and turn your torso open to the side. Use the press of your palms and your elbow pressing into the knee to help you twist deeper. *If you want to go further open up the arms extending one up to the ceiling, and placing the other on the ground on the inside of the front foot.
Breath of Fire
Breath of fire is a simple breathing exercise known to purify the energetic pathways in the body. It helps release toxins from the lungs, balance your nervous system, and revitalize you during an energy slump. It’s also great for sinus congestion…you may want a few tissues handy. Begin in a comfortable seated position with your hands in your lap, sitting up tall. With your mouth closed begin to make strong and short exhales out the nose. Don’t worry about the inhales here, they will happen automatically. Keep your attention to strong sharp exhales. They should be quick, about one every second or so. The driving force behind this action is in the diaphragm. Feel your abdominal muscles tighten on each exhale, like a pumping action. Keep this breath going for 30 seconds for beginners up to 3 minutes for advanced yogis.
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Disclaimer: If you have never done and yoga before the best place to start is with a private instructor or in a live class. There are many anatomical intricacies and you don’t want to injure yourself. Only take my suggestions if you have a yoga practice and know your body’s abilities. Seriously, I’d really rather not have you sue me if you try these and throw out your back!