Move over winter, spring has officially sprung!
This season, in addition to giving the ol’ house a deep clean, let’s take it one step further by detoxing our bodies!
“From a physical standpoint, the asana (or postures) of yoga help detox your body by working with your lymphatic system,” Judy Kuan, certified personal trainer and 500-hr registered yoga instructor, says. “Lymph moves through your body and removes waste when you engage in physical movement. For example, heart-opening yoga poses, like camel pose and wheel pose, stimulate the lymph nodes at your throat and under your arms.”
Kuan notes that many types of yoga work well for detoxing the body, but her personal favorite way to rid the body of toxins is through Hatha yoga, which involves holding poses for longer periods, giving the body enough time to feel the full effects of each asana.
“The benefits of yoga are cumulative,” says Kuan, who suggests practicing yoga every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. “When I’m rushed for time, I will still do a few sun salutations and Vinyasas in the morning — it gets my mind and body in the right place to tackle the day.”
And while most vigorous forms of exercise are helpful when it comes to cleansing and detoxing, as the movement stimulates all three main systems of the body (circulatory, digestive and lymph) that play a crucial role in eliminating waste, yoga is especially helpful since it focuses on systematically stretching and compressing every part of the body.
“In a well-rounded yoga practice, every part of the body is pushed, pulled, twisted, turned and upended,” says New York City yoga instructor, Witold Fitz-Simon, in an article for Gaiam. “This facilitates the removal of waste products such as carbon dioxide, lactic acid and lymphatic fluid from the deep tissues and extremities of the body that a jog or a bike ride just don’t reach.”
Another key component to properly detoxing the body is using yogic breathing, or pranayama, which consists of taking deep, meaningful inhales and exhales through the nose and mouth. “Yogic breathing helps clear out carbon dioxide from the lung tissue, stimulates the organs of digestion and can, over time, retrain the diaphragm to move freely,” explains Fitz-Simon.
In addition to the physical detox effects on the body, yoga can also play a major role in helping to cleanse the mind by purging toxic thoughts and teaching us to move our awareness away from chaos by focusing on the present moment and channeling a calmer, more peaceful state of mind.
“The everyday ups-and-downs of life seem to smooth out,” Kuan says of the mental effects yoga has had on her. “I feel like I am much better equipped to deal with stressors in a calm, thoughtful way.”
So if you’re ready to transition into this new season by detoxing your mind and body, check out these 11 yoga poses to help you “spring clean!”
Next: See all eleven poses