Spring is traditionally considered a season of rebirth and transformation. However, even though our minds are eager for the warm weather ahead, our bodies are oftentimes still weighed down by the sluggishness of winter. Luckily, these eight detoxifying yoga poses can cleanse the body—by stimulating the lymphatic, circulatory, and digestive systems—to help rid the body of the toxins and waste that accumulated over the long winter…
Seated Spinal Twist
Have a troublesome tummy, well twisting poses, such as Marichyasana 3 (or one-legged seated spinal twist) can help! Think of twisting poses as natural digestive aids—helping to soothe painful gas and bloating while stimulating waste elimination. To get twisty with it:
- Sit facing forward on your mat with both legs extended straight out in front.
- Bend your right knee, and place your foot (sole flat) over your left knee
- You can choose to bend your left knee (keep it on the floor) and place your foot as close to your right sits bone as possible.
- Now twist your body, placing your right hand (palm down) on the floor behind your buttocks
- You can deepen the twist by pressing your left elbow against the outside of your right knee as you continue to twist more deeply with every inhale and lengthening the spine with every exhale.
Three-legged dog (or Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana) will call on your upper body strength, as well as position your head below your heart, which flushes the body with fresh blood for improved circulation and lymph detoxification. To get your three-legged dog on:
- Take a tabletop position, with a flat back and hands and knees shoulder- and hip-distance apart.
- Tuck your toes under and push up through the legs to come into Downward Facing Dog pose.
- Step your feet a bit closer together and lift your right leg up and back, straight into the air.
- Take about 5 breaths, lower the leg slowly and repeat on left side.
Staff pose (or Dandasana) might look simple, but there’s a lot going on with this posture that promotes alignment as it lengthens and strengthens the spine, expands the lungs, and encourages the purging of lactic acid and other harmful toxins. To get your staff pose on:
- Sit on your mat with both legs extended straight out, heels on the floor.
- Place your palms flat on either side of your hips and press the palms flat to the floor as you lengthen your spine.
- Be sure to breath as you let go of any tension in your neck or shoulders.
- Tuck you chin closer to your chest to improve spinal alignment.
- For a deeper stretch, flex your toes back towards your face, but keep heels firmly planted on the floor.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Stretch out those tight hamstrings while letting gravity aid circulation and waste elimination with Wide-Legged Forward Fold (or Prasarita Padottanasana). This pose places your head below your heart, letting gravity wring your digestive system out like a sponge by:
- Stand lengthwise on your mat with your feet farther than hip distance apart.
- Turn your heels out slightly wider than your toes.
- Interlace your hands behind your back, palms facing each other in a fist.
- Stand tall, breath deeply and gently fold forward.
- You can place your hands or the top of your head on the ground in front of your for support as you breathe 5 deep breaths.
- You can also twist by walking the hands to one side and then the other if you choose.
- To rise, push through the legs and slowly come up one vertebrae at a time.
A reclined twist (or Supta Matsyendrasana) involves twisting, folding, and sweating—all vital actions that encourage the body to flush out toxins, increase blood circulation, soothe cortisol levels (stress hormone), and encourage oxygen flow. To get twisty:
- Laying down with your back flat on your mat, hug your knees to your chest.
- Keeping your back and upper shoulders flat on the ground, rise your arms in a “t” position at shoulder height, palms should face the floor.
- Squeeze your inner thighs together and let your legs fall to the right while you rotate your head to the left.
- Breath as you keep your lower back and shoulders firmly grounded.
Head to Knee Forward Bend
If you’d like to stimulate your organs (i.e., especially your digestive system), Janu Sirsasana (or head to knee forward bend) will certainly do the trick! For a soothing, organ-provoking massage:
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Inhale and bend your right knee and position the right foot sole close to your inner left thigh.
- Exhale and lengthen the spine, twisting the torso slightly left so your navel is aligned right over your mid left thigh.
- Gradually fold forward as you lengthen the spine evenly over your left leg.
- Remember, to ground down through your sitting bones. You can breathe and place both palms on either side of the left foot, grasp your heel, or use a strap to deepen the stretch.
One of my favorite yoga poses, locust (or Salabhasana) encourages the alignment of the back of the body (i.e., the spine, neck, and shoulders) while promoting healthy digestion:
- Lie face down on your mat with legs squeezing together.
- Place your arms flat at your sides with palms facing up.
- Inhale deeply as you lift and extend your head and upper body while simultaneously lifting and extending your legs off the floor.
- Keep your hips firmly planted into the floor.
- Extend your spine evenly through the crown of your head and your toes.
A glute and quad burning pose, chair twist pose (or Parivrtta Utkatasana) calls on your deep twisting powers to stimulate digestion and encourage circulation and movement through the liver, kidneys, and spleen. You can even take it one step further and do open side fierce pose:
- Stand with both feet together, bending at the knees to squat down like your sitting in a chair, keeping both knees parallel.
- As you twist, cross the right elbow over the left thigh.
- Firmly plant the right palm on the floor beside your left foot or use a block for stability.
- To do open side fierce pose: stack your shoulders as you extend your left arm straight up towards the ceiling with the palm facing inwards.
- To increase this twist look up at your raised palm and press into your feet into the floor.
- Gradually untwist and rise back through the feet and repeat on opposite side.