by Jennifer Partridge: When you feel tired and weighed down by stress, a lack of exercise, and poor food choices, give your body and mind a reboot with a detox…
A detox doesn’t always mean a rigorous diet, juice fast, or ingesting a combination of nauseating herbs. You can detox through yoga too, with a practice that’ll leave you feeling cleaner on the inside and more energetic on the outside.
Give the following asanas a try and see the benefits for yourself.
Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose)
Bring your feet either hip-width apart or together (depending on your comfort level). Bend your knees as if you are sitting on a chair; make sure your knees are aligned with the center of your feet. Bring your hands together at the heart center and bring one elbow to the opposite knee, pressing your palms firmly together. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and open your chest wide.
Detox benefits: In addition to improving the health of the spine and vertebrae, this asana stimulates the liver, spleen, and digestive system, while toning the abdominals and improving the elimination process.
Garuda-asana (Eagle Pose)
Stand with your feet together and arms by your side, which is Tadasana or mountain pose. Draw your left foot upward, bending the knee as you lift it. Wrap the left foot around your right leg as you rest the back of your left thigh on the right thigh. Cross your arms at the elbows, left over right. Join the palms of your hands together keeping the fingers pointed upward. Inhale and hold the posture for the duration of the inhaled breath.
Exhale and return to the Tadasana pose. Repeat the posture on the opposite side, wrapping the right leg over the left and the right arm over left.
Detox benefits: In addition to stretching the ankles and calves, this asana stretches the thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back. By firmly pressing the thighs together, deeper circulation is supported in the legs, which helps flush out the blood and lymph system.
Marichyasana (Sage Twist Pose)
Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Bend your left leg towards your chest. Rotate your torso toward your left knee. Wrap your right arm around the left knee, positioning the knee in the crook of the right elbow. After resting in this position for several breaths, swap sides and repeat.
Detox benefits: This yoga twist helps to stimulate digestion and remove the impurities of the body. As the abdominal organs are squeezed, the kidney and liver are stimulated. When the twist is released, blood then enters the organs.
Urdhava Dhanurasana (Forearm Wheel)
Move into a reclined position on your back and slowly press up, gently placing the crown of your head on the mat. Come onto your forearms one at a time both forearms on the mat. Slowly press up into a backbend, opening through your shoulders.
Detox benefits: Chest-opening exercises are wonderful to release stagnation and congestion in the body. They are also a great way to activate your metabolism.
Pincha Mayurasana (Arm Balance)
From Downward Facing Dog, place your palms and forearms on the floor (your forearms parallel to each other at shoulder width). Firm your shoulder blades against your back torso and pull them toward your tailbone. Then rotate your upper arms outward, to keep the shoulder blades broad, and hug your forearms inward. Finally, spread your palms and press your inner wrists firmly against the floor.
Now bend your left knee and step the foot in, but keep right leg active by extending through the heel. Then take a few practice hops before you try to launch yourself upside down. Sweep your right leg through a wide arc and kick your left foot off the floor, immediately pushing through the heel to straighten the leg. Hop up and down like this several times, each time pushing off the floor a little higher. Exhale deeply each time you hop.
If your armpits and groins are tight, your lower back may be deeply arched. Draw the navel toward the spine. Squeeze the outer legs together and roll the thighs in. For this pose your head should be off the floor; locate a spot right between your hands and hold your gaze there for focus.
When you come down, be sure not to sink onto your shoulders. Keep your shoulder blades lifted, and take one foot down at a time with an exhalation.
Detox benefits: If you can manage to get yourself into this pose, you will be blessed by the following benefits: strengthens the re-productive organs and sexual function, helps heal constipation, and reduces acidity and indigestion.
Salamba Sirsana with Garudasana (Eagle Headstand Pose)
Kneel on the floor. Lace your fingers together and set the forearms on the floor, elbows at shoulder width. Roll the upper arms slightly outward, but press the inner wrists firmly into the floor. Set the crown of your head on the floor.
Inhale and lift your knees off the floor. Carefully walk your feet closer to your elbows, keep your heels elevated. Actively lift through the top thighs, forming an inverted “V.” Firm the shoulder blades against your back and lift them toward the tailbone so the front torso stays as long as possible.
Exhale and lift your feet away from the floor. Take both feet up at the same time, even if it means bending your knees and hopping lightly off the floor. Turn the upper thighs in slightly, and actively press the heels toward the ceiling (straightening the knees if you bent them to come up). Place the right thigh over the left and either stay there in a half bind or wrap the foot around the calf in a full bind. Press the thighs into one another.
Detox benefits: All types of headstands improve cardiovascular functioning by reducing strain on the heart. It’s a wonderful pose to assist people suffering from a depressed immune system and also helps with allergies. Headstands also help increase digestive fire and body heat. They can increase the function of the endocrine glands, especially the pineal and pituitary glands.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)
Start by lying on the floor. Draw your legs back over the head coming into a plow pose. Bring your hands to either side of the spine and slowly bend both your knees and press your feet up into the air. Lift the kneecaps and draw the belly toward the spine. Gaze towards your toes and avoid moving your head to either side. Lower to plow on your way down and return to your first position.
Detox benefits: Inverted poses such as the shoulder stand help drain accumulated lymph fluid from the legs and upper body. This is a wonderful pose to do at the end of a practice as all toxins that were released during the practice are then flushed toward the heart to be oxygenated and cleansed.
It’s good to note that all asanas assist in the detoxification process. So if you feel inspired, play by your own rules, and choose your favorites. Wherever you are in the practice—whether you’re moving into advanced poses or you are a very beginner—enjoy yourself, and watch the benefits from detox happen naturally.