After a long and frigid winter that seemed like it might never end, spring is finally in the air. Along with warmer weather, chirping birds, and blooming flowers, that means that many of us are in full spring-cleaning mode. But while you’re airing out any lingering winter blues, don’t forget to clean the most important place of all: you!
Every day our bodies are absorbing toxins such as preservatives, heavy metals, and pesticides. Our bodies are naturally equipped to eliminate these toxins, but a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and environmental stress can slow the process down. This spring yoga sequence will get you meditating, sweating and twisting to facilitate your body’s “spring cleaning” efforts.
The yoga detox flow will incorporate the following:
Inversions: Getting upside-down drains excess fluid from the legs and pelvis while inviting fresh blood flow to the brain. Inversions also aid digestion, stimulate lymphatic cleansing (to improve immunity), and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (to help you relax).
Twists: While you can’t actually ‘wring’ toxins out of your body, twists are a great way to stimulate the digestive organs and boost flushing of the liver and kidneys. Twists are a great way to de-stress, too.
Meditation: Clear your mind and allow yourself to let go of all the things you don’t need to carry with you into the new season. Excess stress can lead to high blood pressure as well as other health issues, so don’t underestimate the value of detoxing your mind!
To get the most out of your yoga detox, don’t forget to be mindful of what you are putting into your body, too. Try to avoid drinking excess caffeine and alcohol, and remove any processed foods from your diet. Combined with this yoga sequence, you might be surprised how light, energized and ready for spring you feel!
YOGA DETOX FLOW
Breath Of Fire
Otherwise known as Kapalbhati breathing, this is a powerful breathing technique to stimulate the mind, heat the core and fire up the digestive track. Begin by finding a comfortable seat with a straight spine. Inhale and exhale fully. On the next inhale, you’ll begin forcefully exhaling through the nose, focusing on the abdominal contraction. The inhale will occur naturally. Continue quickly exhaling and naturally inhaling for 15 to 30 breaths.
Inhale to lengthen the spine. On the exhale, take the left hand to the right knee and the right hand behind you. Begin twisting from the core, taking the gaze over the right shoulder. Each inhale grow taller through the spine, each exhale move from the core to twist deeper. Ensure that you are not cranking on the knee to move into the twist, but rather using it to guide you.
Do three to six rounds of Classic Sun Salutations to warm up the body and get the blood circulating. Remember, you want to sweat out all those toxins! Remember to allow the inhale or exhale of the breath to lead each movement.
Find the classic sun salutation tutorial here.
Step your feet three to four feet apart. Your front toes should point to the front of your mat; your back toes can point out at a slight angle. Inhale the arms up overhead. On the exhale, begin moving the navel towards the front knee as you fold over the leg. Relax the head and neck completely. If hands do not reach the ground, use blocks to assist you. Firmly press into the back heel, micro-bend the front knee and breath for five to eight breaths. Engage the abs to come up with a straight spine. Switch sides.
Revolved Triangle Pose
Keeping the feet as they are for Pyramid Pose (with right foot in front), inhale the left arm up to lengthen the spine. On the exhale, begin twisting over the front leg, dropping the hand to the outside of the right foot. Open the heart and gaze out to the right. Right arm can lift, or keep the right hand on the hip for additional support. With each inhale lengthen through the spine; with each exhale open up the heart a bit more to the right. Squeeze the shoulder blades together to broaden through the collarbones. Hold for five breaths. Inhale to come out of the pose and switch sides.
Inhale the arms up. Exhale to sink back into chair pose. Hold this pose for a few breaths, dropping the shoulders away from the ears, slightly tucking the tail bone, and lengthening through the side body. Exhale the hands to namaste mudra at heart center. Inhale to lengthen, exhale to twist to the right, taking the left elbow to the outside of the right knee. Draw the left knee back if it begins to peak in front of the right. Hold for five breaths. Inhale to come out of the pose. On the exhale, move to the other side.
Come to a seated position, ensuring that your sit bones are firmly engaged with the ground. Straighten your legs in front of you. Keeping the feet flexed, drop your hands to either side of your body and firmly push down into the ground to lengthen through the spine. Keep drawing the shoulder blades back to broaden through the chest. Hold for 30 seconds, powerfully pressing out through the heels while ensuring the torso stays aligned.
Transition onto your stomach. Keeping your body weight on your lower belly and pelvis, begin to lift the legs and arms off the ground. With the gaze forward, powerfully extend through the toes and lift the legs as high as possible. Allow the fingers to extend towards the toes, but also to fire up towards the ceiling. Stay here for 30 seconds.
Head-To-Knee Forward Bend
Coming back to a comfortable seated position, extend the right leg out in front of you. Take the left foot in to meet the right thigh. Inhale to lengthen, exhale to fold over the right leg. Invite a gentle twist into the body as you move the navel towards the knee. Relax the head. Hands can be around the foot or resting on the shin. Keep the foot flexed and the thigh engaged. Hold for 30 seconds. Inhale to roll up and then switch sides.
Half Twist Pose
With the right leg extended, cross the left foot over the right thigh, keeping the left knee pointed towards the ceiling. If this is comfortable, you can wrap the right leg around the left side of the body, providing that the sit bones stay plugged into the ground. Inhale the right arm high, exhale to take the elbow to the left knee, twisting to the left. Stay here for five breaths. Gently untwist and switch sides.
Gently roll onto your back. With the left leg extended, inhale the right knee up to the chest. Grab onto the shin with your hands to hug the knee in closer to your body. Keep the head and back firmly engaged with the mat. Stay here for thirty seconds, then switch sides. When you have finished, you can take both knees into the chest and rock side-to-side.
Legs Up The Wall
This gentle inversion is also extremely relaxing. Lying down in front of a wall with your knees bent, move your sacrum so that it is as flat against the wall as possible. Lift the legs so they are straight and relaxing against the wall. This should be an easy pose to hold as you allow the blood to drain from your feet and legs. Stay here for up to ten minutes.
Conclude the yoga detox with meditation. Find a comfortable seat with a straight spine, using props such as blocks, blankets or even a chair if necessary. Get still and steady, and begin observing the natural inhale and exhale of the breath. Simply observe any thoughts that come up as your mind begins to quiet. Stay here for 20 minutes, or as long as possible.
Casey is a wandering yoga teacher currently calling Costa Rica “home.” She brings the world of transformational content marketing to yoga teachers and retreats around the world. Learn more about her work or follow her adventures as a nomadic yogi.