Promote Your Body's Natural Detoxification With A Consistent Yoga Practice
We've all heard about the amazing health benefits of yoga. From digestion and cardiovascular support to improving our posture and mental well-being, it's no secret that this powerful mindfulness practice can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit. But did you know that yoga can keep the body's natural detoxification system running smoothly as well?
What's the deal with our body's detox system?
Today, we're exposed to more modern toxins than ever before. Heavy metals, BPA, phthalates, and other environmental toxins can be found in our food, water, personal care products, clothing, linens, cookware, candles, cleaning supplies, and more.
While our detoxification system is thankfully working round the clock to identify, filter, and remove unwanted substances from the body, this influx of chemicals and heavy metals can tax the liver and other elimination organs. If we don't take daily actions to support our detox pathways, this growing burden of toxins can lead to more serious health concerns down the road.
How can yoga help us detox?
There are many things we can do on a regular basis to support our natural detox pathways, including implementing a yoga practice.
While any type of exercise is helpful for physically detoxing the body, many people also practice yoga regularly to release things that don't serve them. By bringing this mindfulness tactic into their practice, they're able to cleanse their mind and spirit (in addition to their body, of course!).
Detoxifying yoga poses.
Here are some types of yoga poses (aka asanas) that you can add to your practice to promote your body's detoxification:
- Inversions: Asanas like downward dog (adho mukha svanasana), crow pose (kakasana), and headstand (sirsasana) help stimulate the lymphatic system to clear unwanted toxins from your tissues. When you're upside down, blood circulates in different directions and helps rinse out the lymph nodes, effectively "cleansing" detox pathways.
- Twists: Gently twisting the torso helps "wring out" your organs and stimulate the digestive system. Asanas such as revolved side angle (utthita parsvakonasana), twisted chair pose (parivrtta utkatasana), and revolved easy pose (parivrtta sukhasana) can help move waste and toxins out of your intestines, supporting both detoxification and digestion!
- Forward bends: Similar to twists, forward bends help compress abdominal organs, pushing blood (and unwanted toxins) away from organs and bringing freshly oxygenated blood back in when you straighten again. Standing forward bend (uttanasana), wide-legged standing forward bend (prasarita padottanasana), and even child's pose (balasana) can provide these detoxifying benefits.
Increased antioxidant activity.
Whether you're flowing in a studio or at home, chances are at least a few of these asanas will be a part of your practice. But even if you don't include any of these types of poses in your practice, you'll still reap detoxification benefits if you practice yoga consistently.
According to a 2015 clinical study1 from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, practicing yoga regularly for 12 weeks or more can reduce stress hormone levels, increase blood levels of glutathione (aka the body's "master antioxidant"), and reduce biomarkers of oxidative stress. This is a big deal, demonstrating in real time how glutathione modulates oxidative balance, neutralizes free radicals, and helps regulate natural "upkeep" activities throughout the body.*
On a larger scale, sufficient levels of glutathione help maintain immune, reproductive, neurological, and digestive health.* In addition to its whole-body health benefits, this unique bioactive also plays a part in restoring other critical antioxidants (like vitamin C and vitamin E), making it not only the MVP of antioxidants but the team captain of your antioxidant network as well.*
This study shows that regularly practicing yoga has a direct impact on antioxidant status, confirming what yogis have been saying for years—yoga does, in fact, promote detoxification, longevity, and overall well-being.
While sustaining healthy glutathione levels is vital to detoxification and whole-body health, doing so isn't always a simple feat (especially as we age). Taking intentional steps to increase your glutathione stores—such as regularly practicing yoga and taking an antioxidant-rich supplement with bioavailable glutathione clinically shown to improve glutathione status2, like mbg's daily detox+—can help you maintain optimal antioxidant activity and promote your body's natural detox pathways.*
To learn more about increasing your glutathione levels, check out this article!
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.