If you want to move your body and clear your mind, yoga is always a good bet — all you really need is a soft surface and some time. But depending on the flow, yoga can also be a great detox method as well.
Detox yoga is a flow that uses different positions — particularly twists and bends — to stimulate our organs, especially the ones that extract waste from our bodies.
If you feel like your body needs a reset, a detoxing yoga flow may be the move for you. Here are some poses to get the job done.
The following poses work well if you want to help your body rid itself of some toxins.
1. Seated Spinal Twist
- Start seated with your legs out in front of you.
- Bring the knee of one leg to your chest, keeping your foot on the ground.
- Hook the elbow of your opposite arm on your knee and twist, looking behind you.
- As a variation, you can bend your extended leg on the ground while maintaining the twist.
- Take a few slow, deep breaths before releasing. Then repeat on the other side.
2. Head-to-Knee Forward Bend
- Sit with one leg extended in front of you and the other leg bent, with your knee pointing to the side and foot turned inward.
- Inhale while extending your arms over your head.
- Exhale while bending forward, hinging from the waist with a long spine.
- Take hold of your ankle or your foot if possible. Release the head and neck forward if that feels good, and hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Slowly come back up to release the pose, then repeat on the other side.
- Lie on your belly, with your arms placed along your torso, palms up.
- On an inhale, lift your head, upper torso, arms, and legs away from the floor.
- Raise your arms so they’re parallel with the floor and stretch through your fingertips. Your gaze should be relaxed and forward (don’t crank your neck towards the sky!).
- Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute before slowly relaxing your limbs to the ground.
4. Three-Legged Downward Dog
- Start in a tabletop position, with your hands underneath your shoulders.
- Curl your toes under.
- Send your hips high into the sky to come into Downward Dog, making sure your neck is relaxed and you’re not gazing forward.
- Making sure your shoulders are stable, press one foot firmly into the mat.
- Slowly lift the other leg into the air, making sure to evenly distribute your weight into both shoulders and keeping your hips square.
- Hold for a few breaths, then lower the raised leg and repeat on the other side.
5. Wide-Legged Forward Bend
- Start by standing up straight and tall.
- Step or shift your feet out wide and rest your hands on your hips.
- Take a deep breath.
- On an exhale, lean your torso forward using your hip joints. Make sure to keep your back straight.
- As your torso approaches the floor, press your fingertips into the floor. If you’re able to, try to rest your palms flat on the ground.
- You can also bring your arms behind you while in a forward fold, clasping your hands together.
- When coming out of this pose, make sure to slowly unfold yourself, one step at a time. Let your arms fall gently, and slowly bring yourself back to a standing position.
6. Revolved Triangle
- Start in a standing position.
- Spread your legs about 3 feet apart (give or take).
- Bring your arms in line with your shoulders.
- Turn your left foot inward and your right foot outward.
- Maintaining stability, rotate to the right so your left arm extends over your right leg.
- Put your left fingers down on the floor (to the outside of your right lower leg) as you extend your right arm up. Try using a block underneath your left hand for more stability.
- Stay in this pose for 10 to 20 seconds, inhaling deeply. Then, stand up for arms are again in line with your shoulders and repeat on the other side.
7. Plow Pose
- Begin by lying flat on your back with your legs fully extended. Your arms should be at your sides and your palms should be facing down.
- Use your abdominal strength to lift your legs and hips, bringing your legs over your head and your torso up so it’s perpendicular to the floor.
- If your toes don’t touch the floor, make sure to support your lower back with your hands. If they do, extend your arms along the floor and lock your fingers together.
- Make sure to keep a space between your chin and your chest.
8. Bow Pose
- Lie on your stomach with your hands along your sides, palms up.
- Bend your knees, bringing your heels as close as you can to your butt.
- Reach back and grab your ankles.
- On an inhale, lift your heels away from your butt, while at the same time lifting your thighs off the ground.
- Bring your shoulder blades together and make sure the tops of your shoulders are away from your ears.
9. Shoulder Stand
- Lie on your back, on something comfy like a pillow or a folded blanket.
- On an inhale, lift your legs into the air, pressing your arms into the ground.
- Sweep your legs over your head, using that momentum to curl your hips off the floor, bringing your weight to your upper back and shoulders.
- With bent elbows, bring your hands to your lower back for support.
- Draw your elbows together and walk your hands up your back.
- To come out of this pose, release your hands from your back, slowly bend your knees, and lower your legs toward the floor. Then roll your spine down slowly and carefully back to the floor.
Now, keep in mind, when we say “detox” we’re not talking about pseudo-scientific Hollywood remedies that promise to rid your body of chemicals and disease.
Detoxing your body just means that your organs (like your liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs) are doing their natural thing and ridding themselves of pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, and processed foods.
Regular exercise can help you detox by reducing inflammation, which helps your body operate in tip-top shape. But it’s important to note: there is no flow or pose that will do the detoxing for you.
Detox yoga helps your body do what it does better
Detox yoga is meant to improve circulation and movement. You’re essentially helping out your body’s natural detoxification system, which operates on a cellular level (meaning you can’t literally twist your organs into removing toxins).
While the human body tends to be pretty great at ridding itself of the day-to-day toxins that we can pick up (which exist in harmful chemicals that can be found in things like fire retardants, pesticides, electronics, fatty foods etc.), there are things that we do that can decrease the number of toxins in our bodies.
For example, cigarettes and excessive amounts of alcohol contain toxins that will eventually lead to diseases other health problems.
Identifying foods or products that contain harmful toxins and avoiding or limiting them can go a long way in not overloading our bodies in their natural detoxification process.
As mentioned, in most cases your body will do a fine job in detoxing itself. But there are a few things you can do to help things along in addition to detox yoga. Two of the biggest things are:
Sleep. Getting a good 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night gives your body the rest it needs to function properly.
Water. Staying hydrated throughout the day is a key way to help the detoxification process as well. Toxins are often transported out of the body with water through peeing, sweating, and breathing.
When it comes down to it, detox yoga is incredibly useful, both in getting regular exercise and helping your body through its natural detoxification process. While it’s only one part of an effective, well-rounded wellness routine, it’s one you can get started on right away.