8 Yoga Poses to Help You Detox
If you’re one of the more than 15 million people in the United States practicing yoga, you already know how beneficial the poses and breathing techniques can be for your body, mind and overall well being. Yoga, a centuries-old practice, stimulates blood flow, balances hormones, encourages digestion, lowers blood pressure and more.
But did you know that when you practice yoga, you’re not only stretching and massaging your limbs and inner organs, but you are also detoxing your body naturally? Different poses help circulate blood flow, stimulate digestion and help purge your body of toxins.
As a yoga instructor myself, I would like to add here how very important it is to develop and maintain a solid breath work practice in order to properly assist with moving toxins from the body. Not only do we accumulate toxins through the food that we eat (and no matter how well we may eat, if we are not fully digesting and assimilating, we are building upon toxins) but we are continually taking in toxins through the air we breathe and general environmental pollution. If you spend any amount of time in a car, your are breathing in toxins. To give this some perspective, we are exposed to an average of 70,000 chemicals produced by any urban environment. Deep, focused breath work combined with your yoga practice is one of the best ways to cleanse the body of these. It is important to always utilize a slow, controlled breath which moves deeper and deeper into the lungs with each subsequent practice. Adding counts to your breath will help you – try inhaling to a count of four, then exhaling to a count of four. Play with moving up to larger counts, six, eight, and so forth.
The Ujjayi Breath (Victorious Breath) and Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma) are two of the more common cleansing breath work practices used in yoga practice.
- Sit in a comfortable seated position (sit either in a chair or on a yoga mat on the floor). Press your right thumb against your right nostril and your ring and little finger by your left nostril (the index and middle fingers are folded gently in).
- Inhale through your left nostril while closing the right nostril with your thumb, as you count slowly to four. Then also close the left nostril and hold the breath for eight counts. Exhale through the right nostril (keeping the left nostril closed with the ring and little fingers) to the count of eight.
- Breathe in through your right nostril, keeping your left nostril closed with your thumb, and count slowly to four. Then close both nostrils and hold this breath for eight counts. Follow this with an exhale through the left nostril (closing off the right nostril with the ring and little fingers) to the count of eight.
- Sit comfortably while focusing on relaxing your jaw and facial muscles, and softening your gaze. Allow your mouth to fall slightly open.
- Take a slow inhalation through the mouth, then at the end of this inhalation, gently contract at the back of the throat as you exhale to the syllable “haaa”. Now attempt to keep this gentle contraction at the back of the throat as you inhale – still attempting to maintain a soft sound echoing from the back of the throat.
- Now close your mouth, and continue with slow, deep inhales and exhales while keeping the back of the throat gently contracted. You still want to hear a deep sound – “haaa” – echoing from the back of the throat even while keeping the mouth closed. The sound should be soothing to you. **Be sure if at any point you feel dizzy or uncomfortable, stop the Ujjayi breath and come back to it when you feel ready.** If you are new to this, be patient with yourself, as it takes a fair amount of practice. But once you have it, you have it… and you will find it to be a rewarding breath to practice with indeed!
Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined Twist):
The reclined twist stimulates the flow of fresh blood to your digestive organs, which in turn increases the health and functioning of your entire digestive system.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog):
When in downward dog, one of the most common poses, yoga practitioners engage the abdomen, encouraging digestion. Also, the heart is elevated over the head, which helps increase both blood and lymph circulation.
Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall):
This helps to increase blood and lymph circulation. Fresh blood flows to the abdomen encouraging digestion and this pose also calms the nervous system.
Parivritta Marichyasana (Seated Twist):
The seated twist stimulates digestion by squeezing abdominal organs.
Not only is rabbit a fun pose to say and do, it also stimulates the thyroid gland, improves immune system, balances hormones and improves circulation.
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Twisted Revolved Side Angle Pose):
Like the reclined and seated twists, this post stimulates digestion and blood flow, but also offers added leg strengthening and elongation of the spine.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) & Halasana (Plow):
These two inversion poses offer a number of benefits like:
- better sleep, digestion and focus
- benefitting the cardiovascular, lymphatic, endocrine, and nervous systems
- Relieving back pain by counteracting the pull of gravity