Whether it’s too much turkey or Grandma’s famous pumpkin pie, the holidays tend to lead to overindulgence. But they also provide a great opportunity to detox your body, mind, and spirit. “Our modern lifestyle has most of us on toxin overload, and that gets compounded during the holiday season,” says Liz Lindh, a vinyasa yoga teacher who will kick off the new year by leading a week-long yoga detox retreat at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers in Cabuya, Costa Rica.
Kundalini Poses to Invigorate Health
Lindh created this 8-pose sequence of detoxifying Kundalini kriyas, or repetitive movements, exclusively for YogaJournal.com to boost energy, promote mental clarity, and rid the body of toxins. “This simple sequence is exhilarating, energizing, and strengthening, but is also deeply restorative and cathartic,” she says. “It works the whole body: purifies the skin and lymphatic system, improves digestion and elimination, boosts circulation, balances the flow of prana, releases stuck emotions, and clears the mind.” Goodbye, food coma.
1. Empty Coat Sleeves Kriya (Kundalini Breathing Exercise)
How to Do It: Place your feet just wider than your mat with the heels turned in and toes turned out. Soften the joints in your body and gently twist from side to side so your arms are floppy. Allow your arms to flop against your front and back as you twist. Breathe deeply. Repeat at least 20 times.
Why It Works: This movement massages the lymph nodes in the armpit and groin regions and will improve the flow of lymph, boosting immunity, promoting healing, and removing cellular waste, including unnecessary fats and excess fluid retention. It’s also very soothing for the nervous system, unblocks the energetic pathways and encourages natural detoxification.
2. Jumping Up & Down
How to Do It: Bring your feet shoulder-width apart. Let go of any tension in your shoulders and arms. Keep your knees soft. Jump up and down while shaking out your arms like you are flinging water off of your arms and hands. Do this for 1 to 5 minutes. A good way to keep your momentum going is to choose a song with a good beat and jump for the duration. Let out a yell every now and then to keep yourself going.
When you finish jumping, take five deep Ujjayi breathswhile inhaling the arms up overhead to Anjali Mudra (prayer) and exhaling the hands down to the heart center. On the sixth inhale, reach your arms up, then Forward Bend (Uttanasana). Inhale to a long spine, exhale chest to thighs, bend the knees and inhale to lift the chest and arms into Chair Pose (Utkatasana).
Why It Works: This movement is a great opportunity to cultivate a positive inner dialogue and free yourself of toxic self-talk. It will clear the mind, strengthen the bones, boost cardiovascular endurance, improve circulation and lymph flow, strengthen and de-stress.
3. Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose)
How to Do It: Bring the hands into Anjali Mudra. Twist to the right first. Tuck the upper arm bone against the outer thigh bone and press the top hand into the bottom hand. Create a straight line from elbow to elbow and keep the palms in front of the heart center. Be sure to keep the toes and knees even. Gaze up. Hold for 10 breaths. Inhale to untwist and stand all the way up, reaching for the sky. Fold forward on the exhale. Inhale extending your spine long. Exhale folding your chest to your thighs. Bend your knees and inhale to lift your chest and arms into Utkatasana (Chair Pose). Repeat the twist to the left. Do this 3 times on each side.
Why It Works: You should be sweating by now. Sweat is the way our body eliminates toxins through the skin. This asana also massages, squeezes, and cleans the abdominal organs, which will improve the way the liver, intestines, and kidneys process waste. It also wrings out various nerve plexuses to activate the parasympathetic division of the nervous system. Parivrtta Utkatasana is very strengthening for the legs, and will remind you that you have the power to firmly and gracefully stand your ground.