This is a guest post by Kimberly Johnson
If you have decided to focus your energy on your health through raw foods and detox, chances are you are looking for as many ways as possible to support this dietary change as possible. Heck, why not double down?
Some form of exercise is surely a part of your routine so that you can get all of your systems working and circulating.
So why yoga?
Yoga can be more effective, than say running, because you can get pretty specific about the outcome you want. Do you want to feel caffeinated? Sedated? Balanced? Specific poses can be combined or sequences to create these effects.
Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. It takes some time to make your own yoga pose prescriptions, but it is possible. And just like you are on your way to knowing what your body is craving for food, you can be on your way to knowing what kind of yoga practice is right for you each day. Both of these take time and steady effort, but it actually becomes fun when you can recognize what is healing for you, rather than needing a doctor to understand.
Poses that help you detox.
Yoga is an extremely effective way to sit with the difficulty that often comes up through the release of old habits. Yoga can also assist you in getting rid of the unwanted toxins that your body is probably releasing through this dietary change. And hopefully, yoga can be one of the positive habits built into your life that instigates a state of such vitality and vibrancy that your old habits disintegrate and lose power in comparison with the strength and life force that you feel when eating cleanly and taking care of your body.
The yoga postures that are most effective in helping you eliminate toxins from your digestive system, kidneys and liver are twists. Twisting postures literally wring out your organs so that when you unwind, new blood and oxygen rush back into them.
Twists are best practiced on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning is optimal. But if that is not possible, just wait a few hours after a meal.
Pose #1 (parvritta pavanmuktasana)
I recommend the reclining double leg twist.
Lying down on your back, draw your knees towards your chest making 90 degree angles with your thigh and shins and ankles. Reach your arms out to the side like a cross. On an exhale, lower both legs to the right without your left shoulder coming up- stay for 8 breaths or about 1 minute. Keep your knees together. Inhale, return to the center, and exhale lower your legs to the left keeping your right shoulder down.
A slightly more challenging version:
If your hamstrings are open and you can straighten both legs to 90 degrees, lower both straight legs to the right aiming them to your right fingertips, so you will be slightly piked. Inhale come to the center, and exhale lower both legs zipped together over to the left keeping the right shoulder down. (*do not do this is you feel discomfort in your lower back)
Pose #2 (jathara parvatansana)
- Level 2 Stomach Twister
Then sit up with both legs out in front of you. If you cannot sit on the floor with your spine straight, sit up on a pillow or phone book. (It is not a good idea to twist with a rounded spine).
Seated Twist Marichyasana 3
- It’s a mouthful but a very simple and effective twist!
Bend your right knee so your right foot comes back by your right hip. Hug your right knee with your left arm and twist to the right. If it is not too much of a strain, you can put your left elbow on the outside of your right knee.
Pose #3 Twisted Triangle
From a standing position, step your left leg back. Lengthen forward over your right leg, place your left hand on the outside of your right foot and twist to the right.
If you cannot keep your spine straight (which would be normal because this is a difficult pose, place your front hand on a block)
The main principle of twisting is to lengthen your spine on inhalations and twist on exhalations. You want to wring out a long spine.
Counterindications: Do not do these twists if you are pregnant or have a history of herniated disks.
I hope that you feel the benefits of these twists. Sometimes they can be pretty immediate. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!
Sitting. Some of the most powerful tools are often the simplest, but that does not mean they are easy. There are times in any fast, detox or diet change that are really difficult. We take away our comfort measures. When we were lonely, we used to eat M&Ms, have a glass of wine or a hamburger, now we are faced with the emptiness. An emptiness that no salad will fill. During these rough spots, be still, close your eyes, and drop in and down. This is a simple form of meditation.
Rather than going to your computer or going for a run, or substituting another form of escape where food once was, you have an opportunity to break the pattern. Instead of trying to escape the feelings or impulses, close your eyes and be with them. This doesn’t have to be some big deal. We have a false idea that meditation is either some grand enlightening experience or that it is impossible torture.
I can say that whatever you experience with your eyes closed is actually what is present inside of you. If you haven’t practiced being still, it can be pretty shocking how scattered and unfocused our minds are. You thought meditation and yoga were supposed to be relaxing and then you close your eyes and get assaulted by a barrage of thoughts and feelings that we often keep at bay. So start with just a few seconds- the length of a breath. When you feel that urge to escape the power of your craving or the sadness, loneliness, or grief that may precede your craving, pause and take a full breath.
I call this pose sitting, but really it should be called pausing, because you can do it anywhere, except when driving don’t close your eyes! *Do not pupu this one and skip down to the “real” yoga. This is a prerequisite for getting the benefits out of the other poses, your detox and your life!
If you want more guidance with meditation and some more variety, check out these 2 minute meditations designed to fit into your busy schedule!
For the past eleven years, Kimberly Johnson has been teaching yoga all over the world, in New York City, San Diego, Chicago, Boulder, Thailand, Malaysia and Brazil. She has deeply explored Viniyoga, Iyengar yoga, and Ashtanga yoga, and found the heart of her practice to be a continual return to self-inquiry. Her classes are influenced by her background in dance, Structural Integration, the Feldenkrais method, Advaita Vedanta, and Sanskrit. She currently lives and teaches in Rio de Janeiro. Find out more about her amazing retreats at www.kajyoga.com.