Thursday, July 5, 2012

Yoga Detox Poses to Help Overindulgence

I'm pretty sure most of you overindulged yesterday amidst loved ones, food, and celebration. I know I have! So when I'm feeling heavier or slower than usual, instead of just trying to slog my way through the day and eating only salads, I turn to yoga to help me get back to my usual self. (image credit)

I focus on specific poses that help detox my body and relax myself. Yoga Journal describes explains how "[t]he heating and twisting sequences designed for [detox] can help move toxins from your tissues through your lymphatic and digestive systems so that they can be eliminated from the body" which is extremely helpful if you've imbibed a bit too much alcohol or ate one too many servings of mayo-laden potato salad.  

So how does the body detox? Kate Hanley of Gaiam Life describes it well: "There are three main systems of the body that play a crucial role in the elimination of wastes — circulatory, digestive and lymph. The circulatory system pumps blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen to and carrying waste products away from cells. The digestive system processes the food we eat, separating nutrients from waste and eliminating anything the body doesn’t need. And the lymphatic system collects intracellular fluid from throughout the body and transports it to the lymph nodes where anything harmful (such as bacteria or other contaminants) can be removed before the lymphatic fluid is returned to the bloodstream." 

Our body is well-set up to do this already, but sometimes we beat it up and we need to offer a helping hand. Most types of vigorous exercise will help rev up your body's detoxification system, but yoga offers a unique method involving stretching and compressing that helps in very specific ways.

I tend to lean towards twists whether it's sitting, laying on my back, or standing in either chair position or lunge position. I guess I can say these are my favorite poses. These poses offer the benefits of improving digestion so I find myself doing a few of these at night before going to bed. Twists are a great example of a compression technique that helps with detoxes. View this page for variations on twists and step-by-step instructions. (image credit)


 Another great detox pose is the downward dog. I know most people hate this, even I dislike it most of the time. However, it's incredibly beneficial to our bodies which is why we find it time and time again in yoga routines. In getting your heart higher than your head, you reverse the gravitational blood flow and shake up the circulation of your blood and lymphatic system. It also slightly tones and strengthened your abs so digestion is improved as well. Click here to read and view a video of step-by-step instructions on how to do the downward dog.

Legs up the wall is another great pose that I've actually have not taken the time to do very much. Gaiam Life explains that this pose "[b]athes the abdomen in fresh blood, stimulating the digestive organs. Soothes the nervous system, allowing your body to shift its attention from warding off stress to daily bodily functions, including detox." It sounds kind of freaky, I know, but never underestimate the power of what simple poses can do for your physical and mental well-being. Click here to read step-by-step instructions on how to do this pose on the left.

What do you do to help your body recover from a day of overindulgence? Would you do these yoga poses? If you do, let me know how you felt afterwards!

Note: I am not a doctor or any type of medical/physical professional. My advice is given because it works for me, not because a doctor or professional said so. If you have any questions about your physical ability, please check with your doctor or physician first for all matters. 

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