There’s a lot of talk about detoxes in popular media today. Some of it’s based on more hope than science, while other information is downright misleading.
However, yoga has existed for thousands of years. This ancient practice has a plethora of scientific evidence to show its beneficial health effects and may be the only cleanse you will ever need.
Best of all, you don’t have to invest time and money in an expensive retreat to reap the benefits. You can keep up your good health primed with regular practice that takes only minutes a day.
How to physically detox and cleanse your body through yoga
1. Stimulate and Nurture Your Digestive Organs With Twists
Yoga has benefits for your stomach and intestines. These organs consist of smooth muscle tissue, which contracts involuntarily to run multiple bodily processes. However, their function is controlled by your nervous system through various hormones and neurotransmitters, which yoga can help balance. When these chemicals exist in optimal amounts, everything runs the way it should.
You can use various twists to stimulate and nurture your digestive system. Movements such as Marichyasana can kick your pancreas into high gear, a tiny gland that secretes insulin, which is a crucial hormone for blood sugar control. Problems with this organ can take a devastating toll on your health, including Type 2 diabetes.
Play with variations on twists like the following:
Standing twists: Add a twist to chair pose by bringing your hands together in front of your heart and rotating your body so the outside of your upper arm rests against the outside of the opposite leg.
Seated twists at your desk: You can sneak in a yoga break by stretching your arms overhead and bringing one hand to the opposite knee.
Lying twists: These are fantastic for bed in the evening to release your lower back and stimulate digestion. You can extend one leg, bending the other and bringing it across your body, or lie supine, bend both knees at 90°, letting them fall to one side, then the other.
2. Reduce Arthritis Pain With Post-Activity Stretches
Are you one of the millions of American adults with arthritis? If so, you know this joint inflammatory condition can cause severe disruptions in daily activities by making them painful.
You can ease arthritis pain by using yoga to cool down from more vigorous activities. For example, after walking a considerable distance, relax the muscles around your knees and open up your IT band by performing a fire log pose with one leg stacked atop the other, foot to opposite knee. If this move is beyond your range of motion, take an easy sukasana seated position and lean forward from the hips to open up the same joints.
It’s also vital to stretch your knees in the opposite direction. Work your way into hero’s pose by sitting on the floor with your knees in front of you, feet on the outside of your legs toward your buttocks. As you advance in your practice, you can deepen the move with a reclined hero’s pose, where you lean back, attempting to lie flat on the floor.
3. Invigorate Your Kidneys With Lumbar Flexibility
Strengthening and stretching your lower back area is vital for easing the pain many people experience, especially those who sit all day. As a bonus, such moves invigorate your kidneys, helping you eliminate waste from the body. How’s that for a natural detox through yoga? Try adding these moves to your practice:
Camel pose: Kneel upright like you were going to pray. Lean backward, placing your hands on your heels, arching your spine and elevating your chest. Keep your hands on your lower back as you arch for a less strenuous variation.
Cat-cows: These two moves often occur in conjunction as a vinyasa — more on that concept in a minute. Get into an all-fours position. Let your belly dip toward the floor as you look up to perform cow, then segue into cat with an exhale by arching your spine like a scared Halloween kitty.
Bridges and wheels: To get into bridge pose, lie flat on your back with your fingertips nearly touching your heels.
4. Improve Your Overall Circulation With Vinyasa
Good circulation is vital to your overall health. Every muscle, organ and cell in your body relies on life-giving oxygen delivered through the blood and cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer of people worldwide.
What is vinyasa yoga? This faster-paced form focuses on coordinating your body movements with your breath. Each action has a specific inhale or exhale, which boosts lung capacity and circulatory ability. Although these workouts aren’t as slow as a yin or restorative class, you can get the knack and modify each move to suit your unique body. For example, there’s nothing wrong with supporting a forward fold or a triangle on your lower leg if you can’t touch your toes or place your hand on the ground.
5. Calm and Heal Your Nervous System With Restorative and Yin Yoga
Your central nervous system is in charge of running everything in your body. However, both physical and mental trauma can affect it, keeping “memories” trapped in your cells, where they often lead to chronic pain and even disability. Your body and mind learn maladaptive response patterns that might have once kept you alive through a crisis but don’t serve you in daily life.
Fortunately, what your nervous system can learn through trauma, it can unlearn through TLC. Both yin and restorative yoga nurture you and encourage healing. The difference is primarily mental — many base moves are the same. In yin, you strive to find inner stillness and maintain a clear mind, observing thoughts, then letting them go. In restorative, you wiggle a bit more, both physically and mentally. You continue to monitor your thoughts non-judgmentally but reflect on them while gently adjusting your positioning to ease tension and chronic pain.
Both practices are a snap to add to your life — you can perform many of the moves right in bed. Winding down with gentle restorative or yin yoga before sleep may help if you struggle with insomnia.
Final word on detoxing through yoga
There’s a lot of talk about detoxes in popular media. However, many of the recommendations simply do not work. The ancient practice of yoga has proven health benefits, so use the above guide to physically detox and cleanse your body daily through movement.
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Kike Viga via Unsplash