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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.)


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.)


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.

(Strengthens your back and arms. Increases the flexibility of your spine and firms your buttocks. Stretches and massages your internal organs.)


Press back to your hands and knees and curl your toes under. Lift your hips up and press them back, reaching your heels to the floor. Keep your palms flat, with no space under the knuckles of your fingers, and try to eliminate the crease lines in your wrists. Let your head drop and your neck feel relaxed. Keep your bottom ribs in and your core body strong. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, taking breaks as you need. Let your breath be even and smooth.

(Lengthens and releases tension from your spine; stretches your hamstrings, calves, and feet; strengthens your arms, shoulders, and back; improves mobility of your digestive system.)


From downward dog, inhale and lift your right leg, stretching it toward the wall behind you. Keep your hips square. Extend through your toes. On your exhale, bring your right knee forward toward your nose and set it down between your hands. Make sure your knee is directly above your ankle. Place your right hand on your right knee and reach your left hand up to the sky. Lengthening your left side body, bring your left elbow to the outside of your right leg. Make a fist with your left hand and cover it with your right, pointing your right elbow towards the ceiling. Sip in your inhale, and on your exhale twist to the right. Let it be gentle, and continue to lengthen your spine from tail bone to crown of your head. Hold for five breaths. Step back to downward dog and switch legs.

(Strengthens legs, improves digestion and elimination, stretches the hips.)


From downward dog, lower your knees to the floor. Bring your big toes together until they touch, with your knees slightly wider than your hips, then sit back on your heels. Bring your forehead to the floor and gently stretch your arms in front or rest them by your sides. Relax your forehead. Relax your shoulders. Let go of your thoughts and notice the breath flowing through your body. Stay here for at least 1 minute.

(Gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees and ankles; relaxes your shoulders and neck; increases blood circulation to your head; massages your internal organs; calms the mind, helping to relieve stress and tension.)

Cat Senet is a certified personal trainer, chef and director of fitness at the Powerhouse Gym in Downtown Santa Rosa. Contact her with questions or comments at catsenet.powerhousegym@gmail.com.

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