5 Detox Yoga Poses

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It’s the perfect time to become your healthiest and whole self. You cannot extend to others what you, yourself do not contain. Become your happiest, healthiest, self this year and extend that health and joy to those around you. Don’t only focus on detoxing your physical body, but detox your relationships as well. As we cleanse our physical bodies, it is just as important to surround ourselves with healthy people.

What about your mental clarity? Your spiritual being? Are all these areas cleansed? What steps do you need to take to detox your entire life? Below are five detox yoga poses that can help you detoxify your physical body. We will focus on revolved and inverted yoga asanas as each of these asana families will detoxify your entire system. We will explore three revolved postures and two inversions.

Twists and Revolved Poses

A twist will not only leave you feeling energized and focused but will also give you mental clarity, relieve stress and deep tension and will detoxify your entire system by primarily massaging your internal organs. I like to tell students to think of a dirty washrag being wrung out; This is what we are doing to our systems as we practice revolved postures.

These can be incorporated into almost every yoga posture, whether we’re seated, standing, balancing, prone or in a supine (on your back) position. Revolved postures can be challenging. You will need patience in your journey with twists, as they can be challenging and uncomfortable in the beginning. The more you practice these demanding poses, the better you will become, so embrace where you are and enjoy the journey.

Yoga twists increase the flexibility of your entire abdominal wall including obliques and most back muscles. Inactivity can reduce the range of movement available to all your joints. Twists can assist in mobilizing the joints of your spine by rotating each vertebra gently. Any revolved pose will squeeze the internal organs and encourage the flow of oxygenated blood while eliminating toxins and metabolic waste products. The liver, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, and spleen all benefit from the twisting poses of yoga. Twisting poses can also help reduce abdominal bloating and digestive discomfort.

Revolved Triangle Pose or Parivrtta Trikonasana

Benefits:

  • Strengthens and stretches the legs( especially the thighs), knees, ankles and arches
  • Stretches and opens the chest, lungs, shoulders, groins and spine
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Stimulates abdominal organs aiding in digestion and circulation
  • Improves alignment of the spine; improving posture and increasing flexibility and mobility of the spine
  • Improves balance
  • Can be therapeutic for backache, arthritis, infertility, constipation, asthma and sciatica
  • Increases stamina and energizes
  • Improves concentration, focus, will power and mental clarity
  • Relieves, stress, anxiety and depression

Cautions:

If you have a major spinal injury you should avoid this posture. Use caution if you have a headache, high or low blood pressure, an ankle or knee injury, insomnia, or a shoulder injury. If you have a neck injury, keep your gaze either facing forward or towards the ground.

Revolved Chair or Parivrtta Utkatasana

Benefits:

  • Rejuvenates the blood system throughout the entire body
  • Stimulates and massages the abdominal organs (including ovaries, prostate gland, bladder and kidneys). This improves and relieves digestion issues and tones the abdominal wall
  • Strengthens the obliques and transverse abdominal, as well as opens the arm pits and strengthens inner and outer intercostal muscles
  • Strengthens and stretches the back muscles, aligns and awakens the spine and improves posture
  • Stretches and strengthens the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, shoulders, chest, feet, ankles, knees and spine; relieves tension in the back, neck and shoulders
  • Increases flexibility, lubricates ankle and knee joints and awakens the legs
  • Stimulates the heart, improves circulation, respiratory and lymphatic systems
  • Therapeutic for mild sciatica, backache, arthritis, osteoporosis, flatulence, menopause, menstrual discomfort and can improve infertility issues
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Stimulates and energizes the nervous system
  • Improves concentration, stamina, mental focus and relieves mild depression
  • Relieves mental and physical lethargy and exhaustion
  • Calming, centering and balancing; it brings a state of tranquility as well as can be invigorating

Cautions:

Use caution if you have high or low blood pressure; a headache or migraine; low back or shoulder injury; insomnia; a hip, knee or ankle injury, severe asthma, sciatica, degenerated or herniated disk(s); or are pregnant

Half Twist Pose or Ardha Matsyendrasana

Benefits:

  • Stimulates and massages the abdominal organs (ovaries, prostate gland, bladder and kidneys), improving and relieving digestion issues, as well as toning the abdominal wall
  • Strengthens the obliques and transverse abdominal
  • Strengthens inner and outer thighs
  • Strengthens and stretches the back muscles, aligns and awakens the spine, improves posture
  • Stretches the hips, shoulders, chest and spine, relieving tension in the back, neck and shoulders
  • Increases flexibility and lubricates ankle and knee joints, awakening the legs
  • Stimulates heart and improves circulation
  • Therapeutic for mild sciatica, backache, arthritis, osteoporosis, flatulence, menopause, menstrual discomfort and can improve infertility issues
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Stimulates and energizes the nervous system
  • Improves concentration, mental focus and relieves mild depression
  • Relieves mental and physical lethargy and exhaustion
  • Calming, centering and balancing. Brings a state of tranquility and can be invigorating

Cautions:

Use caution if you have a low back or shoulder injury; hip, knee or ankle injury; severe sciatica, degenerated or herniated disk; a headache or migraine; or are pregnant.

Inverted Yoga Postures

Inversions are postures that typically have the heart and often the feet, higher than the head. Most inversions stimulate your pituitary gland, promoting a positive state of well-being and rejuvenation. Inversions also benefit the cardiovascular, lymphatic, endocrine and nervous systems while stimulating the lymphatic system which strengthens the immune system and also improves digestion.

Cardiovascular benefits of inversion postures provide more efficient circulation caused by a fresh delivery of blood to the heart. Being inverted also increases blood flow to your head, relieving the heart of some of its duties and can lower blood pressure and heart rate. Your endocrine system is responsible for hormone delivery. Inversions, especially shoulder stands, are recommended for perimenopausal and menopausal women due to the belief that the postures will stimulate the thyroid and parathyroid glands, regulating your metabolism. The benefits to the nervous system during inverted postures include the stimulation of cerebrospinal fluid or CSF, which is the fluid of the central nervous system that flows from the brain to the spinal cord.

Plow Pose or Halasana

Benefits:

  • Stimulates abdominal organs, ovaries, prostate gland, bladder and kidneys. This improves and relieves digestion issue and tones the abdominal wall
  • Stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands which increases metabolism and stimulates the nervous, digestion and respiratory systems
  • Strengthens and stretches the back muscles, aligning spine and improving posture
  • Opens the shoulders and chest and relieves tension in the back, neck and shoulders
  • Awakens the legs
  • Stimulates the heart and improves circulation
  • Therapeutic for headaches, migraines, backache, menopause discomfort, infertility, insomnia and sinusitis
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves concentration, mental focus and relieves mild depression
  • Relieves mental and physical lethargy and exhaustion
  • Calming and centering, it brings a state of tranquility and over all well-being
  • Invigorating and rejuvenating

Cautions:

If you have asthma or high/low blood pressure, practice with feet on raised props. Use caution if you have severe sciatica or a herniated disk; if you have a back, neck or shoulder injury, if you’re menstruating, if you have glaucoma.

If you’re pregnant but experienced in this posture, you may continue to practice until the third trimester. If you’re inexperienced with plow after becoming pregnant, you should avoid this posture

Tripod Headstand Pose or Salamba Sirsasana

Benefits:

  • Stimulates abdominal organs, ovaries, prostate gland, bladder and kidneys. This improves and relieves digestive issues and tones the abdominal wall
  • Strengthens the entire musculoskeletal system
  • Stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands which increases metabolism and stimulates the nervous, digestion and respiratory systems
  • Strengthens and stretches the back muscles by aligning the spine and improving posture
  • Opens the shoulders and chest and relieves tension in the back, neck and shoulders
  • Awakens, stretches and strengthens the entire body and spine
  • Stimulates heart and improves circulation
  • Therapeutic for headaches, migraines, backache, menopause, menstrual discomfort, infertility, insomnia and sinusitis
  • Reduces varicose veins
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves balance and concentration, mental focus and relieves mild depression
  • Relieves mental and physical lethargy and exhaustion
  • Calming and centering, it brings a state of tranquility and overall well-being
  • Invigorating and rejuvenating

Cautions:

Use caution if you have high or low blood pressure; a headache or migraine; a back, neck or shoulder injury, severe sciatica or a herniated disk; and if you’re menstruating; pregnant; have diarrhea; have glaucoma.



3 Yoga Poses for Labor

As a birth doula and yoga teacher, I believe that yoga for labor is one of the most rewarding forms of yoga. Your labor could be a breeze or it could be a marathon. Either way, these sure fire hip-openers can help give you the edge.

(Click here for prenatal yoga videos.)

1. Cobbler’s Pose/Butterfly.

Take your Cobbler’s Pose to new heights by not only lengthening and strengthening your upper back, helping to improve your posture, but the lift also allows the hips to fall open towards the sides, going deeper into your groin muscles and stretching the pelvis to open for birth. Place the soles of the feet together in front of your body and walk the hips back an inch to rest in a forward pelvic tilt. Keep the outer edges of the feet pressed to the earth as you roll your shoulders open and back and lift your hips from the floor

  • enjoying a deep stretch in the entire back from crown to tailbone.

2. Low Lunge Pose.

Lunge is a terrific pelvic floor stretch as well as a strengthener for your thighs. In addition, it stretches the hip flexors which lead into the back and can alleviate some of the tension in your tight lumbar. I often recommend my Doula clients to try this pose while standing in labor, as it may help to open up the pelvic floor on one side more than another, which is useful for babies who like to thumb suck in utero and cannot descend with a little arm in the way!

3. Downward Facing Dog.

The Downward Facing Dog is a standard pose in most classes, but done properly with birth in mind, can also become your new best friend. Begin the pose by sitting on the heels with the arms outstretched on the mat as far in front of you as you are comfortable. Keep the fingers soft and the shoulders pulled into the back with a long neck. Shift your weight into your toes and lift the knees slightly from the floor. Keep reaching with your chin as you straighten the legs, letting the heels descend, and the shoulders pulled back into the spine. The head will naturally fall towards the floor as your hips elevate, keeping the length and the strength in the shoulders behind you, where it belongs. As you lift the hips, lift the tailbone and stretch the hamstrings from heels to hips forming a perfect triangle with your body. In this position, the baby can fall out of the hips and low back, offering relief in later weeks as well as encouraging a breech baby to shift with the relaxation of the internal ligament structure.

*Consult with your medical professional before starting any new physical regime during pregnancy or labor.

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