If you feel sluggish and out of sorts, your digestive system might need a boost. I love to start the new year with a clean slate, so to speak. Whether its a gentle detox, a spring clean or creating new intentions and healthier resolves, new year is a time for 'out with the old and in with the new' well, however you look at it, January is a perfect time to start a fresh.
Yoga is a great way to cleanse both body and mind of toxins and waste and can really give a boost to the whole immune system. Here are a few tips to incorporate into your daily routine, sprinkled with poses to stimulate the digestive tract and get the body moving. As you do the poses imagine your body is like a sponge being squeezed, twisted and wrung-out, ridding the body of unwanted toxins, stagnation and negativity. Think of each new breath as a new beginning, a fresh start.
Tips to stimulate the digestive system and help cleanse the body
From a wide-legged forward fold, heel-toe feet wide, about three to four feet apart. Take left hand to right ankle or shin, reach right hand toward the ceiling, and lean back. Stay here or, if it would feel even better, bend right elbow, take hold of the top of left thigh, and lean back. Breathe for 5 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
High Lunge Twist Repetitions
From high lunge with left foot forward, inhale to straighten legs and lift arms high. On exhale, come back down to high lunge and twist, reaching right arm forward and left arm back. Inhale back to center. Do 10 to 20 reps, then repeat on the opposite side.
Side-to-Side Chair Twists
From standing, sink hips and reach arms high to chair pose. Look in front of knees and make sure you can see toes. If you can’t, sit back until you can. Take hands together at center of chest, take a big inhale to lengthen through spine, and use exhale to twist to the right, taking left elbow outside of right thigh. Inhale back to center and use exhale to twist to the left. Repeat this sequence 5 times on each side.
Side Boat Pulses
Sit with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Hold arms, palms up, in front so that hands brush the sides of knees. Lean back until torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Slowly lift feet off of the ground as you straighten legs any amount (it’s fine to have knees bent), forming a “V” with body. From boat, lower middle back to the ground as you reach knees to the right and arms to the left. Return to boat in the center, then lower knees to left and arms to right. Repeat this sequence 10 times on each side.
Lie face-down, bend knees, and take hold of ankles. Press feet into hands, keeping knees hip-width apart, and lift chest off the ground. Stay here for 5 deep breaths. (If this is uncomfortable, locust is a great alternative.)
Sit with legs long in front of you. Bend right knee and place right foot outside of left knee. (You can keep left leg long or fold it in like a half-cross-legged seat.) Wrap left arm around right leg and place right hand on the ground behind sacrum. Use each inhale to lengthen spine and each exhale to wring yourself out of anything you no longer want or need. Do this for 5 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
From plough, take hands to lower back for support and try to keep elbows about shoulder-width apart. Soften through knees and, one at a time, reach feet toward the ceiling, lengthening legs long when it feels good. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths. To come out, soften knees back toward forehead, come back to plow, and, using arms as breaks, slowly lower back onto the mat one vertebrae at a time.
Lie on the ground, hug right knee into chest, “T” arms out to either side, and allow right knee to fall to the left. You can stay with a neutral neck or, if it feels good, look to the right. You can also take left hand to right thigh to allow its weight to ground right leg. Stay here for at least 5 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.