“The emptying the mind of the whole of its illusion is the true exhalation. The realisation that “I am Atma (spirit)” is the true inhalation.”- Sankaracharya.
Yoga is one of the best ways to naturally de-toxify the system. The lungs are the largest organ in the body, and thus have the greatest ability to rid the body of toxins taken in through diet, or absorbed from the atmosphere. By stretching and opening the body, and using conscious breathing, the system of yoga increases the capacity of the lungs to breathe in and out. This alone means that we start to get rid of more unwanted chemicals on the ‘out’ breaths, and on the ‘in’ breaths take in more oxygen, which in turn mops up any nasties floating around in the blood stream. Yoga postures also have the effect of working deep into the internal organs, massaging them, squeezing out old blood, and encouraging a fresh new blood supply to the area. Toxins are thus carried away in the blood stream and eliminated, and the organs themselves are given a fresh supply of nutrients and oxygen, so that they can do their job better. Finally, the yoga twists squeeze and massage the intestines, mobilising any blockages or old waste products that may have built up in the large intestine, and could be creating a build up of toxins. Try the following sequence of yoga postures to really cleanse and re-charge!
1. Downward Facing Dog Pose/Adho Mukha Svanasana
From hands and knees, lift the hips up and back. Place the feet at hip width apart, hands shoulder width apart, and spread the fingers wide. Push with the hands to move the chest back towards the thighs. Keep the tail-bone lifting. Take five long, slow deep breaths.
Benefits; Strengthens the heart and opens the lungs, promoting a stronger cardio vascular system and a greater lung capacity.
2. Knee to Nose Plank Pose
Move the shoulders forwards, so that they are in line with the wrists. Inhale, and as you exhale, bring the right knee towards the nose. Take five long slow breaths here, strongly drawing the abdomen in towards the spine on each out breath. Then return to downward facing dog pose, and repeat for left side.
Benefits; strongly works the muscles of the abdomen, bringing heat and a greater blood supply to the area, which helps to burn up and carry away unwanted toxins.
3. Twisted Side Angle Pose/ Parivrtta Parsvakonasana Variation
From downward facing dog pose, step the right foot in between the hands, and rest the left knee on the floor. Bring the spine to an upright, and press the left arm into the outside edge the right knee. Take the palms into prayer position, with the base of the thumbs at the centre of the chest. Tuck the chin in, and gaze up toward the ceiling, over the right shoulder. (For a much stronger work out, now straighten the left leg as shown in pic 4.) Stay here for five long, slow deep breaths. Then return to downward facing dog, and repeat for left side.
Benefits; A strong twist, this pose ‘wrings out’ the intestinal tract, and also massages and tones the liver, kidneys and other abdominal organs, improving their function. The body temperature also becomes raised with these more challenging postures, raising metabolism and increasing blood circulation to the whole system.
4. Twisting Cobra Pose/Tiryaka Bhujangasana
Lie down on the abdomen. Place the palms beneath the shoulders. Separate the legs, and tuck the toes under. Start to breathe smoothly and slowly. On an inhalation, raise the torso off the flor to the height of the navel, using the strength of the lower back muscles, and supporting with the arms. Hold the breath in for a few seconds as you twist, gazing over the left shoulder. When you need to breathe out, come back to centre and release back down. Repeat for the other side.
This pose stimulates digestion and relieves constipation, as well as massaging all of the abdominal organs. It also regulates the functioning of the adrenal glands.
5. Abdominal Twist Pose/Jathara Parivartanasana Variation
Lie on the back with the arms out wide. Bend the knees and bring them up onto the chest. Inhale, and as you exhale, lift the knees up and over the right elbow. Don’t let any part of the legs touch the floor. Inhale back to centre, and exhale take the knees to hover over the left elbow. Inhale back to centre. This is one round. Do three rounds.
Benefits; As a twist, this posture wrings out the whole of the intestinal tract, increasing peristalsis and moving along any blockages. As an abdominal strength exercise, this posture activates the oblique abdominal muscles, bringing heat to the area, stimulating blood flow to eliminate toxins.