Ayurveda teaches us that it’s important to detox our bodies and minds at least once or twice a year to remove buildup of ama (toxins) and impurities. Engaging in a semi-annual cleanse helps us purify our channels and tissues and refocus our minds.
Although cleanses often begin with diet changes, there are many tools that we can use to support our detoxification process. Yoga is one tool that can provide a variety of detoxing benefits! Yoga has the ability to:
- Boost agni (digestive fire), improving digestion and absorption of nutrients to minimize ama accumulation
- Stimulate elimination to effectively remove waste
- Increase blood and oxygen flow and circulation to dislodge ama for elimination
- Encourage sweating, which flushes toxins out of the body through the skin
- Calm the nervous system to encourage purification and healing
- Improve the free flow of energy and prana
Yoga for Detox Poses
When looking to incorporate specific yoga for detox poses, look for asanas that twist or compress the navel as well as poses that activate the core and low back. Be sure to breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths per asana.
Twisting Poses for Detox
- Spinal Twists (Seated or Lying on Back) should be practiced on both sides to aid digestion and to encourage elimination of wastes. Think of this pose as wringing out through your internal organs as you activate your digestive fire.
- Utkatasana/Twisted Utkatasana activate through our solar plexus chakra and our core; by adding the twist we encourage additional purification.
Forward Folds for Detox
- Prasarita Padottonasana (Wide-legged Forward Fold) will compress our navel as well as allow our head to drop below the heart. This increases our circulation and has a slightly stimulating effect on our body and mind.
- Uttanasana (Forward Fold) not only stretches the entire backside of the body but also compresses the stomach region. For added compression, bend the knees as much as you need to let the torso drape over the thighs.
- Janu Sirsasana (Single leg Forward Fold) acts as a gentle massage to your organs as you compress the navel. If the back of your leg fills tights, feel free to allow a slight bend to the knee.
Backbends for Detox
- Salabasana (Locust Pose) engages our entire back body as well as applies pressure to our abdomen.
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) activates the back body and spine as well as applies gentle pressure to the abdomen to aid digestion and detox.
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) relaxes our sympathetic nervous system which in turn allows us to move towards a place of purification and healing. To make this pose more restorative, place a block under your hips.
Whether you are looking to practice all of the poses above as a part of a yoga sequence designed for detox or want to weave a few of the postures into your self-practice, these poses all aid in detoxifying body, mind, and spirit.
One of the many amazing results of yoga is not only the benefits we see in our physical body, be that strength, flexibility or detox, but also the calm focus we find on our mat. Try practicing these yoga poses whenever you need to refresh through your body and mind!
Alexa Bull is an Ayurvedic Health Coach, Yoga Teacher and Aromatherapist based in Brooklyn.