Who doesn’t love fall? It’s that magical time when the leaves start to change, the weather gets a little more brisk and we can break out all our cute scarves and hats. But it’s also when we start heading into the seasons of indulgence. You know what I’m talking about: Halloween candy, followed by Thanksgiving, followed by the holidays.
Eating bad can be fun, but it also leads to that sluggish, lethargic, semi-guilty feeling that tends to come along with overindulging — it happens to the best, and healthiest, of us!
Good news is, there are ways to help your body detox after going a little overboard — just in case you fall prey to that delicious-looking pumpkin flavored treat a million times in the month of September.
And, yes, you guessed it: My favorite way to detox is… yoga!
“A consistent yoga practice is ideal for supporting longevity and thriving health,” says Larissa H. Carlson, yoga instructor and the Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. “Keeping the body strong and supple supports a thriving immune system, while strengthening bones and toning muscles for healthy weight and shape.”
Carlson notes that more stimulating posture flows, like vinyasa yoga classes, are a great way to help boost the metabolism.
“Vinyasa classes are excellent for full-body workouts that build strength and coordination, while burning calories over a good sweat,” she says.
But the benefits of a consistent yoga practice go far beyond physical appearance. “By skillfully challenging the body through different postures and breathing practices, yoga provides stress reduction and relaxation, which can directly improve digestion and elimination, while promoting healthy sleeping patterns,” says Carlson.
She added that many of the subtle benefits of yoga can be felt within just a few weeks after starting a consistent practice, and that practitioners also notice an increase in self-confidence, mental clarity, body awareness and energy levels, which can directly improve mood and outlook on life.
“Often, practitioners find that doing yoga in a community (e.g., a local yoga studio) builds friendships and creates a network of like-minded people, which can boost a sense of connection and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness,” especially during the holiday season, adds Carlson.
So, which yoga poses does Carlson recommend for a good physical and mental “detox” over the holidays?
1. Child’s Pose
“A simple forward bend that mildly compresses the abdomen, helping to stimulate digestion and remove toxins, while simultaneously resting the sense organs and supporting stress reduction,” Carlson says.
2. Supine Knee-Down Twist
“A gentle twist to stimulate digestion and support the circulation out of toxins. Very useful for reducing digestive sluggishness, while effectively stretching the back and reducing tension and tightness out of the hips.”
3. Half Wind-Relieving Pose
“A lovely pose to stimulate and aid digestion. When the right leg is brought towards the belly, it helps massage the ascending colon. When the left leg is brought towards the belly, the descending colon is gently stimulated. Working both sides can relieve gas and bloating, while reducing lower back tension and hip tightness.”
4. Rotated Triangle Pose
“A stimulating twist to get the digestive fire going while increasing flexibility and balance. The mental focus needed for this challenging pose helps enhance concentration, clearing the holiday fog.”
5. Rotated Warrior I Pose
“A stimulating twist to get the digestive fire going while increasing flexibility and strength. Builds internal heat to boost metabolism, while strengthening the hips and legs after all that holiday sitting!”
6. Balancing Warrior III Pose
“A heating and strength-building balancing pose to kick up metabolism while increasing core strength (pull the belly button back toward the spine to engage the core!). Emphasize elongation to optimize the lightening qualities of this posture — great for resetting posture after holiday slumping on the couch.”
7. Side Plank Variation
“An arm-balancing pose that enhances arm and shoulder strength, while firming up the core. The side bend used in this variation is excellent for stretching tight intercostal muscles (between the ribs), opening up the breath, and boosting immunity (by massaging and helping to de-congest lymph nodes under the armpits and around the ribcage). Heavy, salty, comfort foods can make the body flabby, but side plank tightens things right back up!”
Like my yogi look? Head over to Vimmia to get this outfit!
Originally published November 2015. Updated September 2017.