Yoga increases flexibility, body strength, body awareness, and focus. Yoga reduces stress and enhances your sense of well-being. Yoga will help you slim down and tone up. If that’s not enough to convince you to get on your yoga mat, then maybe this will: Yoga also aids in your body’s natural detoxification process.
Your body is always detoxifying. It’s sorting out what you need and getting rid of what no longer serves you. Did you know that you are, in any given moment, either helping or hindering this process? From the foods you eat, to the movements you do (or don’t do), your choices are playing a vital role in the function of your elimination organs.
What are your elimination organs?
According to Tom Woloshyn, author of the Master Cleanse and a holistic health practitioner, you have five that play a key role: your kidneys, colon, lungs, skin, and sinuses. These five organs, work in concert with each other. And the foods you choose to eat affect systems of your body in addition to your digestive track. Let me give you an example:
You go on a week-long streak of overdoing it on cookies and other processed foods. Your colon (a.k.a. your digestive track) has to work extra hard to eliminate the extra toxins you’ve ingested. It might get to a point where it becomes overworked. It knows how important it is to get these toxins out, though, so it doesn’t leave the job undone. Instead, it asks for help from the other organs. So, it wouldn’t be uncommon for you to come down with a sinus infection or a weird skin rash, following your binge-week. This is your body doing its best to detoxify.
So, how can we use yoga to help it out?
Deep breaths help your lungs eliminate toxins. With each exhale, your body lets go of what it no longer needs. In yoga, you have the opportunity to take this normal, frequent detoxification process and enhance it by lengthening your exhales and deepening your breath. The ujjayi breath, utilized in most yoga practices, stimulates your sinus cavities. This breathing technique is done with your mouth closed. You inhale and exhale through your nose, with a slight constriction in the back of your throat. Think of the ujjayi breath exhale as a deep sigh (done with your mouth closed) that becomes slightly audible, sounding similar to an ocean wave. More accurately, it’s like the sound you hear when you pick up a shell and hold it to your ear.
Twisting poses, such as reverse triangle or twisting chair, don’t just provide a great stretch for your back or offer an avenue for a more intense yoga practice. Nope, the good that comes from twisting doesn’t stop there. Twisting in yoga has numerous benefits. One really important one: it helps get your digestive track moving! Twisting can be done in a variety of different positions: sitting, standing, lunging, squatting … you name it. Regardless of what pose you’re twisting in, though, you can be confident you’re helping your digestive track rev up and, therefore, helping your body detox.
The compression of your torso, that you experience when doing poses such as forward folds and cat/cow, not only help release tension in your lower back and tone your abdominal muscles, but they also bring blood flow to your internal organs. This blood flow will help your kidneys functional more optimally.
Additionally, in regards to detox, here’s a rule of thumb to keep in mind:
Flow = Good
Stagnation = Bad
Sweating is one of the best ways to detoxify because your skin is your largest elimination organ. As your body’s letting go of heat, it’s also letting go of things that don’t support your health. That’s one of the reasons why a sweaty workout leaves you feeling vital and glowing. If you’ve experienced power yoga or hot yoga before, you know that, at some point during your practice you’re going to be dripping with sweat. When this happens to you again, embrace it! Remind yourself that it’s not just an indication that you’re challenging yourself strength-wise or getting your heart rate up, but it’s also an indication that you’re detoxifying from the inside, out.
The next time you’re feeling sluggish, grab a mat and get your yoga on! As your blood starts pumping and your breath starts flowing, your elimination organs will kick into gear and, before you know it, you’ll be feeling refreshed and energized!
There’s an awesome Yoga for Detox workout, within my digital studio, that’s calling your name! And, it’s your luck day … you get complimentary access to the studio, courtesy of Chris! (You’ll find the detox video under the “Themed” tab.)
Learn how to use yoga to skyrocket your energy and boost your immunity in my latest segment on Twin Cities Live!