Our bodies are amazing machines, constantly filtering beneficial and harmful substances to keep us functioning properly. Our circulatory, digestive and lymphatic systems work to rid us of toxins and waste.
Although nutrition is the most commonly associated method of detox, yoga also can be used. Yoga teaches that each new breath is a new moment, that we can restart any time, all the time.
In addition to physical benefits, yoga can also provide mental clarity. The calming and focusing aspects of yoga are essential for an all-over detox for your body and mind, helping release physical, mental and emotional toxicity through each pose and breath.
Here are eight poses to renew your joie de vive, as recommended by Lisa Ellisen, owner of Soul Yoga in Santa Rosa, followed by their impact on your body.
Lie down on your back, arms relaxed by your sides with palms facing up. Legs are relaxed away from one another and not too close together. Breathe deeply. Inhale completely and exhale completely. Belly relaxed. Relaxed mind.
(Deep rest; relaxes your central nervous system and calms your mind; helps relieve stress.)
KNEES TO CHEST
Still on your back, inhale and extend arms overhead and stretch through toes. Exhale and bring both knees into your chest. Wrap your forearms around your shins, reaching for your elbows or wrists. Draw your tail bone and the back of your skull to the floor. You can gently rock side to side, massaging your lower back.
(Massages belly, releases tension in hips and low back, aids digestion.)
HAND TO BIG TOE (or somewhere close)
Still on your back, pull the right knee into your chest, and extend your left leg on the floor. Holding your right big toe with “peace fingers” (or hooking a strap, belt or towel around the arch of your foot), extend your right leg toward the ceiling. Keep the left side of your body and your left leg firmly rooted to the floor, your right hip moving towards the floor. If your neck allows, lift your head and shoulders and move your forehead toward your right shin. Hold for five breaths, focusing on long exhales. Switch legs and repeat with the left leg.
(Hamstring stretch, lower back release, core strengthener.)
Extend your left leg on the floor and draw your right knee into your chest. Hold your right knee with your left hand and gently cross it over your body, rolling onto your left side. Only go as far as is comfortable. Put a blanket or block under your right leg for support if needed. Extend your right arm to the right with the palm facing up. Stay for five to 10 breaths, then switch sides.
(Internal massage for the abdomen; stretch for the back, shoulders, chest and middle spine.)
LOW COBRA POSE
Roll onto your belly. Place hands under your shoulders and extend your legs behind you, pointing your toes. Look straight down. Squeeze your elbows into your ribs, and move your shoulders away from the floor. Lift your kneecaps off the ground. Press into your hands and begin to lift your chest off the floor using the strength of your back body. Only lift as high as you can go without the support of your hands. (Test it by lifting your hands.) Keep your neck long. Hold for three to 10 breaths, or move in and out of this pose a few times.