YOGA AND DETOX by Tara Lee

Most of us overdo it at some point in the year whether it’s overeating, eating too much the ‘wrong’ foods, or having one drink too many. It is a good idea to detox and give your system a much -needed break. The best way to assist the cleansing process of the body is to eat certain foods, take supplements or herbs, exercise or practice Yoga. It is common for people to want to start their detox after Christmas when they are feeling particularly bloated and unhealthy, however spring is the best time to embark on a new healthy programme.

 

Yoga in particular can really assist with detoxification as the physical postures stretch and compress different parts of the body thereby helping with waste-removal. Yogic breathing can also play an important role in promoting this detoxification. I usually find that most people who are new to yoga don’t breathe properly and don’t have good posture, which further impedes good breathing. Yogic breathing helps clear out carbon dioxide from the lung tissue, stimulates the organs of digestion over time and can encourage the diaphragm to move more freely. Breathing deeply helps massage the internal organs, which in turn improves their functioning. By practicing breathing properly during classes the students are encouraged to breathe properly off the mat in every day situations. By focussing on our breathing more often by regular practice of yoga, slowing down and deepening the breath, we can in a way ‘detox’ the mind, bringing mental clarity.

 

The thing that separates yoga from other fitness disciplines in my opinion is that yoga encourages an awareness of presence in the moment by focussing the mind on each breath, which helps to slow down the thought waves of the mind. This is central to the philosophy of yoga and has been written about in the ancient texts.
Anyone suffering from stress and its associations such as insomnia, depression, headaches and low energy will benefit from doing Yoga.

 

There are certain postures and techniques in yoga which I teach that are particularly good for aiding detoxification.
The practices of ‘nauli’ and ‘udiyana bandha’, which involve a drawing up and in of the abdomen sometimes with a pumping action are great ways to stimulate your digestion and aid elimination. Practicing twists in yoga such as seated spinal twist or supine twists, massage your abdominal organs and also stimulate digestion and elimination. Lying on your back hugging both knees into chest (wind relieving pose) is also beneficial for your digestion and can help with IBS symptoms, as well as other digestive problems.

 

Downward facing dog (hands and feet on the floor, hips lifted) gets your heart higher than your head and aids in the circulation of blood and lymph. It tones your abdomen (especially if you practice a gently drawing of the navel towards the spine) which stimulates digestion.

 

Lying with your legs up the wall has detoxification benefits. It encourages circulation of blood and lymph from the feet and legs. This position brings fresh blood to your abdomen and stimulates the digestive organs while soothing your nervous system. This is also a great pose to relieve stress.

I teach a dynamic form of yoga (flowing and quite fast moving) which helps build heat in the body known as ‘tapas’, burning away impurities and releasing toxins as you sweat which is another excellent way to help the body to cleanse itself. Other forms of yoga such as Bikram yoga emphasize the heating aspect to yoga and encourage profuse sweating to cleanse. There are other styles of yoga which are less about building heat but will still bring an element of detoxification due to the stimulating function of the internal organs as mentioned previously through practicing twists etc.

So next time you’re feeling sluggish, emotionally drained and uninspired get out your yoga mat and start that detox!

 

Tara Lee teaches at The Life Centre in Notting Hill Gate. Her dynamic Yoga classes are on Tuesdays at 1pm.
www.taraleeyoga.com

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