As the first buds of spring begin to bravely pop their heads through the softening winter soil, we too begin our return to light. Spring welcomes a time of renewal physically and energetically, and a perfect opportunity to sweep away the cobwebs of winter, detoxifying the body for the warmer months ahead.
These five yoga postures—including twists, folds, and inversions—can assist in releasing toxins that have been built up in the body that may need a little help finding their way out. You can practice these postures in any order or on their own. You may also want to start by warming the body with some sun salutations before practicing these postures.
Ardha Matsyendrasana | Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend both of your knees, placing both feet on the floor in front of you, then slide your right foot under your left leg to the outside of your left hip. Step your left foot over your right leg and place it on the floor to the outside of your right hip or thigh. Take the left fingertips to the floor behind you, and on an inhale reach the right arm up to the sky while lengthening through the spine, as you exhale, bring your right upper arm to the outside of your left thigh, above your knee. Press the left foot actively into the earth and find the rotation through the upper body. With each inhale lengthen through the spine, with each exhale, without forcing, ease into the twist a little bit more. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Energizes the spine and stimulates the digestive fire.
Parivrtta Utkatasana | Revolved Chair Pose
Stand up tall with your feet together or slightly apart. Inhale to reach your arms up over your head, exhale to shift your weight back into your heels as you bend your knees like you are sitting down into a chair. Try to stack your knees over your ankles. Bring your hands together in front of your heart in a prayer position. Continue to draw your shinbones and thighs back. Take a deep breath in and lengthen through your spine, exhale sink down a little lower as you hook your left elbow outside of your right thigh. Press your palms together; pull palms toward your navel. Keep a majority of your weight in the heels, while keeping the knees and hips even. Breathe deeply for 5 full breaths. You might stay here or you might open up your arms wide to a straight line with your left hand to the outside of your left foot.
Benefits: Improves health of the spine. Stimulates the liver, spleen, and digestive system and improves the elimination process.
Step your feet about three to four feet apart for a wide-legged stance. Slightly pigeon toe your feet as you bring your hands to your hips. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, hinge forward at the hips and fold. Take your left hand to the floor right under your nose, lengthening through the spine to come halfway up, then twist your torso and open your heart to your right, while reaching the right arm up toward the sky. Keep your hips even. Breathe deep and hold for about 10 deep breaths. You might also thread your right arm underneath the left and take hold of the right shin or ankle. Hold each for 10 full breaths and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Helps detoxify the digestive organs, while also calming the mind and stretching the whole body.
From a reclined position, draw your knees towards your chest. Keep your legs together or cross your right leg over the top of your left with the inner thighs squeezing together. Spread arms out at shoulder height with palms facing up or you might take your left hand to the top of your right thigh. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, let your legs fall to the left. Gaze can be up toward the ceiling or maybe over your right shoulder if that feels okay in your neck. Keep the shoulders and upper back grounded, while rotating from the lower and mid-back.
Benefits: Aids in digestion and helps release stress, tension and toxins from the body.
Viparita Karani | Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Sit sideways against a wall with your right or left hip resting up against the wall. Swing your legs up the wall and gently rest your head and shoulders down on the floor. The sitting bones don’t necessarily have to be pressed up against the wall, but they should feel close enough so that your legs feel supported by the wall. Keep your legs active and soften your face and eyes, while bringing your arms to rest on either side of your body, palms facing up. Stay in this posture anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
Benefits: Helps Remove toxins in the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Aids in digestion and helps with overall circulation. Calms the mind and eases anxiety.