Spring Cleansing with Kriya, Asana and Pranayama
Spring has arrived once again and joyfully we begin to see budding flora & blooming fauna as they come out of winter’s hibernation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is related to this fresh and vibrant season in which it is strongly influenced by. It’s a great time to assist the body in its natural cleansing process by toning and strengthening the liver organ so it can efficiently process and remove toxins from the body. This in turn will help to strengthen other body systems such as the immune, digestive & endocrine systems which will help to increase energy levels, promote radiant & vibrant skin, maintain healthy weight for your body type as well as promote a deep sense of peace & well being.
There are many ways in which we can support the body to reach and maintain optimal health & wellness, exercise, nutrition, relaxation and a healthy positive attitude…to name a few! Here are a few tips on using kriya, yoga asana and pranayama for toning, cleansing and strengthening the entire body and mind:
3-Part Breath – Dirga Pranayama
A deeply cleansing & grounding breath, helps to balance emotions, move stagnancy out of lungs, increases lung capacity, purifies toxins from the blood.
*Incorporate this breath several times throughout the day to focus attention to the present moment.*
Kapalabhati Breath – Breath of Fire
Cleanses the lungs & entire respiratory system, increases lung capacity, increases oxygen throughout entire body, massages digestive system improving overall function, purifies blood, brings balance into sympathetic and para-sympathetic parts of the nervous system, stimulates normal functioning of the endocrine system and tones abdominal muscles.
*Beneficial for those who experience seasonal allergies.*
Twisting poses release tension in the body, improve digestion, help to “wring” out toxins from the spine and other internal organs, tone the spinal nerves and improve the functioning of the spinal cord, flushing & cleansing action of the kidneys & liver, brings balance into the nervous system, massages & tones abdominal organs making it helpful to eliminate constipation, brings balance into the adrenal glands & hormone production, beneficial for menstrual disorders, improves round shoulders.
*Twists energize the body and can help give a boost when feeling sluggish or tired.*
Face, head, neck, shoulders, chest, abdomen & low back) – boosts the immune system by increasing production of T-cells, reduces stress, energizing, increases focus, promotes strength & vitality, balances left of right hemispheres of the body.
*Tapping is a great “pick-me-up to increase focus and rejuvenate the body & mind”.*
Enhancement of olfactory senses, loosens and flushes dried mucous, dust and other pollutants in nasal cavity, reduces frequency & severity of colds & sinusitis.
*Neti Kriya is a beneficial practice for those who experience symptoms from asthma, allergies, sinusitis & hay fever.*
Cat & Cow Pose
Cat and cow pose massages and stimulates internal organs for increased digestion & detoxification, opens chest cavity for increased lung capacity, helps to expel stagnant matter from the lungs.
*If you feel the urge to cough while practicing this movement, allow yourself to do so to remove excess mucous from the lungs.*
Forward Bends – Uttanasana & Paschimottanasana
Forward bends massage abdominal organs, stretch & strengthen the spine bringing balance into nervous system, regulate digestion, menstruation & body temperature, calm & soothe the mind.
*Tones organs responsible for urination, defecation, ejaculation, menstruation and child birth.*
Shoulder Stand – Salamba Sarvangasanam
Shoulder stand pose stimulates blood and lymph flow to enhance detoxification, carries new blood to liver & kidneys which assists in increased detoxification, activates pituitary and pineal glands synergizing them to balance hormone levels in the body, increases blood circulation to the brain which will promote higher levels of concentration and mental sharpness.
*Because of the many benefits to this pose it is considered the “Queen of Asanas”.*
Meditation is a subtle yet powerful practice to assist with cleansing & purification of body & mind, increases blood flow, decreases muscle tension, enhances energy, strength & vigor, increases focus & concentration, promotes self confidence, increases communication between the two brain hemispheres, grows a stable, more balanced personality, helps keep things in perspective, helps us tune into the present moment and experience a sense of “oneness”.
*Meditation can be practiced by anyone regardless of spiritual or religious practices, age, or gender.*
Join Gaiam TV for the Conscious Cleanse!
Join us as we go through a 14-day clean eating and yoga challenge. We’ll guide you through a journey of personal growth and transformation using clean, from-the-earth nutrition paired with detoxing yoga practices from the best yoga teachers around.
No calories to count, no supplements to buy. This is a back-to-the-basics approach to simplify all of the things you put into your body – nutrition, exercise, and thoughts.
Feel Healthier and Younger! 5 Detoxifying Habits to Begin
- Dry Brush Your Beautiful Skin
Europeans have used [skin brushing](/video/ayurveda-action-plan-skin-brushing} as an effective method of detoxification for centuries. It’s a simple detox technique which removes toxins accumulated in dead skin cells while simultaneously enhancing circulation. If you brush your skin every day for three minutes, you will be giving it a cleanse that is better than a traditional soap cleaning or bath. In fact, there’s simply no soap that can wash the skin as clean as the new skin which lies beneath the old.
Dry skin brushing your whole body every morning before you shower will do your skin so much good – even if you can’t see it. Just trust in the process because it works! Make sure you use an all-natural dry skin brush, and brush from the feet and hands in the direction of the center of your body. Be sure to brush the bottoms of the feet because nerve endings in your feet affect the whole body. Use lighter strokes over breasts and avoid your nipples if you can. Wash your brush every few weeks in water and let it dry. Get blissed out in the sensation of newly invigorated skin!
- Sweat It Out!
Perspiration is so very, very good for you. It’s an absolutely essential ingredient for healthy skin. Sweating detoxifies and cleanses the skin. If you only sweat for twenty minutes every day, you’ll be doing your skin a world of good. The body detoxifies through the skin, the body’s largest organ of elimination, by sweating. In many traditional cultures around the world, sweating is the first thing people do when they feel a cold or flu coming on. How many times a week do you sweat? For some of us, depending upon our constitution, it’s much easier to sweat than others. But for all of us – no matter what dosha dominates – there are ways to sweat every single day.
For starters, there’s cardiovascular exercise and vinyasa or Bikram yoga classes. Then there are steam rooms and infrared saunas. You can also have some fun in the bedroom by revving up your sexual activity with your partner to get the body sweating and releasing toxins. Whatever you choose to do, try to sweat regularly to maintain optimal health and remove those unwanted toxins.
- Drink Chaga Tea
Chaga, the king of super foods, is a natural detoxifying agent. You can take it in a number of forms, such as powders, capsules, or tinctures. But sipping it in tea form is a great way to relax and drink it as a daily tonic, the way it’s been done for thousands of years by traditional cultures around the world. Chaga is naturally detoxifying because it is a super food that directly impacts the immune system – in a good, good way.
When we feed our bodies with this immune super food, it detoxifies itself naturally because fifty percent of the detox process is simply the immune system working to eliminate toxins. Chaga is also one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, second only to cacao. Antioxidants detoxify the body, too, by preventing our liver from being overtaxed with oxidative stress.
- Go To Bed and Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
Research has shown us over and over again that serious sleep deprivation has the same negative effects on the body as do illness and stress. Our body naturally goes to work for us when we sleep, and getting enough sleep is crucial to the body’s natural mechanisms of detoxification. For the brain in particular to detoxify, adequate sleep is absolutely essential.
There’s something referred to as the glymphatic system, which is simply defined as the brain’s system of removing toxins that can lead to such diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other brain maladies. It’s like the lymphatic system for your brain. When we get a good eight hours of sleep on average, the brain “takes out the trash.” Sleep is absolutely essential for removing toxic waste products.
- Twist It Out With Yoga
Yoga postures that twist and turn the body have a natural detoxifying effect. They get things movin’ and groovin’ inside, enhancing the digestive system, while giving the organs a nice, internal massage. When we get into twisting poses, our organs are compressed. This action actually moves blood that inevitably gets filled with toxins out of our system. Twists also flood the liver and kidneys with oxygen while getting blood flowing to those organs of elimination. Try to detox daily by sitting in seated spinal twist and breathing for six to ten breaths.
Other excellent yoga poses for detoxification include: chair twists, wide-legged forward fold with twist, cat/cow (not a twisting pose but still great for digestion), supine twists, twisted side angle pose, downward dog with a twist, crescent lunge twist, and marichiyasana.
In addition, all inversions are also excellent for detoxifying as they soothe the nervous system while stimulating circulation and lymph in the legs and feet, bringing oxygenated blood to the abdomen and brain. While you do your yoga postures, try breathing through the nose. This, too, has a detoxifying effect because many environmental pollutants get stopped in the mucous membranes of the nasal passages when we breathe through the nose. They then travel to the digestive system where they are broken down and eliminated from the body.
Good luck with your whole body demo habits! Your body will love you for bringing these new habits into your life.