Yoga poses to naturally detox your body
Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are a great time to gather with family, friends and loved ones - enjoying tasty treats in good company is soul food in many ways.
However during this time, we usually consume lots of heavy, sugary foods. While enjoying this special time of the year is very important for us, it might make us feel lethargic, slow and fatigued afterwards.
In this post I am sharing my favorite yoga postures to naturally boost your body’s digestive fire. Although the human body is extremely adaptable to changes in nutrition and "detoxifies" itself efficiently, I like to give it some support this time of year.
The following yoga asanas are a chance to boost your digestion and metabolism. They support the natural detoxification processes of the body and help you transition into the new decade feeling great!
1. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
This is a very accessible, twisted yoga pose that helps to stimulate your digestive fire very effectively. It is known to relieve even fatigue and discomfort after a heavy meal (just remember not to practice right after eating, and give your body 2-3 hours to digest the previous meal first).
- Start in staff pose, seated on your mat, with your legs extended in front of you and the arms resting on your sides.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet flat onto the floor. Then, place your left knee to the floor. Slide your left foot under your right leg, bringing it alongside your right outer hip.
- On your next inhale, raise your left arm overhead and on your exhale, twist the torso to the right.
- Bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee, keeping your forearm raised and point your fingertips towards the ceiling.
- To go deeper into the pose, lower the left forearm and hold onto the left knee. You can reach behind your body with your right hand and bring to the floor behind you.
- Keep your right foot engaged and lengthen your torso. Keep your spine long. Your head can follow the direction of the twist by gazing towards the right if your neck enjoys it. Otherwise, keep looking forward and keep your neck neutral.
- On every inhale, lift your sternum and your abdominal area a bit, engage moolabandha and uddiyana bandha, and go deeper into the twist with every exhale.
- Stay here and breathe deeply for around half a minute to a minute. Then return to the neutral seated position and repeat on the other side.
2. Parivrtta Ardha Utkatasana (Revolved Half Chair Pose)
Parivrtta ardha utkatasana is a twisted variation of half chair pose, that is great to improve leg strength, balance and flexibility in addition to its detoxifying benefits. On an energetic level, this asana is known to reduce stress and anxiety. Keeping your stress level at bay is another crucial factor to helping your body's digestion, immune system and metabolism run smoothly. As other revolved postures, it is also thought to open the manipura (solar plexus) chakra, boosting your confidence, self-esteem and to activate transformative energy.
- Start in Utkatasana, chair pose, with your knees and your weight back in your heels.
- Bring your hands into prayer position in front of your chest in namaste.
- On an inhale lengthen your spine, on the exhale start to bend forward, hooking your left elbow outside your right thigh.
- To create more space in your collarbones and chest, press your palms together and breath deeply. Try to keep your knees together and lower your hips a little deeper into the pose.
- Try to hold this pose for 3-5 breaths, then release into a forward fold.
- Return to Utkatasana and repeat on the other side.
3. Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)
This pose has amazing benefits not only for the digestive system, but also improves spine flexibility, increases strength while opening the chest and front body. Chakrasana stimulates the nervous and endocrine systems due to an activation of the thyroid and pituitary glands. This helps you feel more energized and less stressed.
- Start by lying on your back. Then bend your knees. Place your hands next to your head on the mat, with your fingers facing toward your shoulders.
- Press down all four corners of the feet and palms to have a stable foundation. On your next inhale, lift your hips, reaching your pelvis towards the ceiling. Try to distribute the weight evenly among your hands and feet and stay strong in your shoulders to prevent them from sagging.
- Straighten your arms as much as you can, without any strain. Keep your pelvis and buttocks engaged and avoid letting your legs collapse out to the sides.
- Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then slowly release back down to the mat, vertebra by vertebra while keeping you chin tucked into your chest.
- Do a counter pose like happy baby or just lie on the mat with your lower back pressed against the mat.
To help your body's digestive & natural detoxification processes working at their best, maintaining a steady daily rhythm is considered to be very important in Ayurveda. Read more about Dinacharya here.
I hope you find these poses a useful tool to boost your body's health and overall well-being - I am looking forward to hearing how these are working out for you.