When we think of spring, words like fresh, new and clean come to mind. As we rid our closets of old clothes and unnecessary items, we also should be doing the same for our bodies.
A healthy immune system begins in your gut. What you eat, how much water you drink and a regular physical exercise routine is so important to your overall health.
I pay a ton of attention on how I maintain my digestive health and immune system. I eat a ton of fruits and vegetables for fiber, I drink plenty of water to cleanse my body and I sweat out toxins (including unwanted feelings and thoughts!) in my Power Yoga classes.
As it turns out, the twisting poses we practice in yoga do much more than tone those abdominal muscles. Twists massage the abdominal organs, helping to facilitate the elimination process of toxins and waste.
Twists also help us to focus mentally. When we are focused, we let our minds quiet and we can let stress go. Stress is also closely tied to your digestive system. This is why we often get stomachaches when we are stressed out, nervous, etc.
When we practice Ujjayi breath in yoga, we give our breathing an oceanic quality by taking deep inhales and exhales in and out through the nose. And then as you flow through your practice, you tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing your digestive system to function optimally without interruption.
The best part is that better digestion is that it gives us more energy, getting us ready for those beautiful long summer days ahead! So if you want to clean out your body this spring, start with these basic yoga twists to help you detoxify! Begin with a few Cat/Cow postures to get your blood flowing and fire up your digestive system.
This sequence should be performed twice so that both sides of the body are balanced, beginning with the right side.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Begin in Plank Pose. Keeping your feet hips-width apart, bring your hips and tailbone high. With your hands shoulder distance apart, relax your shoulders away from your ears as you press your hands into your mat, spreading through all ten fingers.
Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.
Downward Dog is a great way to start breathing and checking in with yourself. Your parasympathetic nervous system starts to recognize that you're safe and calm here, and this pose is also great for your gut health.
Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
On an inhale, push into your palms to lift through your chest as you open up through your heart. Think about reaching your spine long.
Hold for 3-5 breaths.
This pose stretches and cleanses the upper abdominal organs and upper digestive track.
Bound Extended Side Angle (Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Return to Downward Dog and come to Side Angle Pose by stepping your right foot between your hands and spinning your back foot to 45 degrees. You can place your right forearm on top of your right thigh bone or bring your fingers to the floor on the inside of your right foot. Extend your left arm overhead and then lower to frame your left ear for Extended Side Angle.
Maybe you stop here, but if you would like more of a twist, wrap your right arm under your right leg and your left arm behind your back to see if maybe the fingers can touch or clasp.
Lift the right side of your waist up and away from your right thigh. Breath deeply for 5 breaths.
Extended Side Angle Pose targets the oblique muscles, which compresses the abdominal cavity. The twisting action helps to facilitate the lymphatic system and stimulate the detoxification process of the digestive organs.
Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
From Extended Side Angle, step in your back foot slightly and straighten both legs. Twisting from your navel, place your left hand on the mat or a block at the inside of your right foot. Keeping your spine straight, reach your right arm high to line up with the left shoulder.
On each exhale, twist deeper. Hold for 5 slow, deep breaths.
Revolved Triangle Pose also massages the digestive organs and aids constipation.
Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
From Revolved Triangle, frame your right foot with your hands and slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip as you sit down. Keep your right foot planted firmly into your mat.
Bend your right arm and take your elbow outside of your left outer thigh. Sitting tall with the crown of the head reaching toward the sky, try to keep both sit bones rooted onto your mat. Continue to push your elbow into your left thigh, taking you deeper into the twist with each exhale.
Seated Spinal Twist stimulates the liver and kidneys and is known to stimulate the digestive fire in the belly.