Yoga has been said to have a wealth of health benefits, one of which is it’s detoxifying ability. But can yoga really help you to detox your body, through twisting poses and deep breathing?
The answer is yes - but not alone. Your body already has its own detoxification system running and in place, and practicing yoga can only help this along. However there are some myths the come along with talking about yoga and detoxing, but here’s how yoga practice actually aid detoxification.
As with all physical exercise, yoga will help the body’s natural detoxing systems function the way they’re supposed to.
These natural detoxing systems consist of the body’s lymphatic system and blood flow, and digestive organs. The lymphatic system and blood floor work to continually deliver waste products to the liver, kidneys, and other digestive organs. This waste and other toxins that your body absorbs, such as air pollution, then gets filtered and eliminated through bodily functions such as urine, sweat, waste and breathing out.
It’s believed that yoga twists aid in your body’s natural detoxification process. This belief began with the foundation of Iyengar Yoga, which teaches that twisting poses create a squeeze and soak action - in that when you compress your organs in a twist, you squeeze out waste, and when you release the twist, fresh blood flow is delivered to your organs, kind of like wringing out an old dirty washcloth and refreshing it with clean water. This idea can also be applied to how the spine reacts to yoga twists. Your spine is made up of vertebral twists, and over time, gravity and old age compress these disks, causing them to lose their moisture. Twists will increase circulation to the vertebrae, making your spine healthy.
The Iyengar concept of the squeeze and soak, is an easy way to explain the way twists stimulate our organs. When these organs are stimulated, this kick starts our natural detoxing process, metabolism and rate of excretion.
Twists also do stimulate our circulatory systems, releasing tension in the spine abdomen, and ribcage. They also allow us to sweat - another natural detoxing function.
Creating heat is another technique used in yoga to aid detoxification. Sweating is the body’s second detox system that backs up our organs. Whenever the liver and kidneys are unable to filter out toxins, they are stored in fat cells. However sweating helps to release toxins - a study found that sweat contains heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic. This isn’t to say you can just ‘sweat out’ a particularly unhealthy night - anything you consume will still go through the body’s digestive system. Sweating also helps to maintain healthy skin, releasing endorphins and prevent overheating.
These detoxing systems naturally occur in the body, and do not need external stimuli in order to perform properly. However, a regular yoga practice can aid detoxing and allow the system to run more efficiently.
Other things you can do to aid this include, limiting high at odds and alcohol, to maintain a healthy liver; drinking lots of water to aid the digestive tract, limiting chemicals in external products that come into contact with your body, and taking part in regular expertise.
Poses that help detoxification in the body include:
Wide Legged Forward Bend
The folding motion in this pose compresses the belly, which will help move digestion on. This pose also encourages circulation, aiding detoxification.
Revolved Chair Pose
This is a deep twist that aids digestion as is slightly compresses the kidneys, liver and spleen - key organs which filter out toxins. This pose also stimulates the heart and improves circulation.
Three Legged Downward Dog
This is also a great pose to aid detoxification. As you hold your head below your heart, and lift your leg up in the air, blood is encouraged to circulate throughout your body. This pose is also great for a mental detox, as it releases stress.
Revolved Triangle Pose
This pose stretches out and opens the chest, lungs and shoulders, helping to increase lung capacity. The revolved motions stimulated your digestive organs and circulation too.
Half Lord of the Fishes (Seated Spinal Twist)
Finally, a traditional spinal twist. which will help to massage your internal organs, encouraging them to filter out toxins.
If you’re on the detox train, and are looking for further ways to aid your body’s natural detoxifying process, cutting out alcohol is one of the easiest ways to help your body detox. Over 90% of alcohol is metabolised in your liver, and when you drink excessively, this can have an adverse effect on the organ - limiting it’s capability to filter out toxins.
Getting a better night’s sleep can also help, as while you’re asleep your body works to remove toxins. If you have less sleep, your body has less time to perform these functions. Seven to nine hours a night of sleep will help your body to detox.
Drinking lots of water will also speed up the removal of filtered waste from your body.
Want to kickstart your detox process with yoga? This week's classes focus on twists, and will have you wringing yourself out from the inside first, and have you rejuvenated to start anew.
Practice the Yoga for Detox, Cleansing, & Vitality program to kickstart your body's cleansing systems and enjoy twists!
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