The holidays are upon us and we’re indulging in sweet foods and drinks like never before! It’s cold outside, and those heavy, creamy foods, hot chocolates, and hot toddies never looked so good. Eat, drink and be merry, right? I certainly say so. But, it seems that whenever I start to indulge for—well, one, two, then three days in a row—my body begins showing signs of discontent. A sore throat one morning, a bloated tummy another...sure, it was fun, but I know I need to tone it down and take to my yoga mat before a cold or flu takes over.
Thankfully for us, there are certain poses that detoxify and restore our bodies and minds after one too many egg nogs or slices of pumpkin pie. Let’s take a look at 5 detoxifying and restorative poses to help us bounce back this holiday season.
Simple Twist Pose (Parivrtta Sukhasana)
All twists are detoxifying in nature. They wring out your organs like no other pose can. As if you’re squeezing a sponge to let all the excess water seep out, twists squeeze excess toxins out of the body so that you don’t hold onto the stuff that could make you sick. During the holiday season, it’s perfectly natural to want to slow down. Restorative poses are a great way to do so.
The easiest one to begin with is simple twist pose. You might like to fold a blanket to sit cross-legged on, which brings the sits bones above the knees. Inhale deeply, and on an exhale, twist to your right, placing your right hand on the floor behind you and your left hand on your right thigh just above your knee. With each deep inhale, elongate the spine. With each deep exhale, twist a little further into the pose. After 4-5 cycles of breath, repeat on the opposite side.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Ardha Matsyendrasana is my go-to seated twist. Something about it just feels so right. From a cross-legged position, bring your left foot up and over your right knee so that the left foot is flat on the floor. The left foot pulls closer in towards the buttocks as you twist from your core to the right. Place your left elbow up and over the right knee to create some extra traction to twist even further. Again, elongate the spine with each deep inhale, and twist further into the pose with each deep exhale. After you’ve held the posture for several breaths, simply repeat on the other side. As you twist, imagine all impurities and toxins leaving the body. (A little creative visualization always helps!)
Now that you’ve twisted your way to bliss while giving the organs a good wringing out in the process, let’s ground down into our bodies and surrender into some deliciously detoxifying restorative postures!
Legs-up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Legs-up-the-wall pose is such a juicy pose for both restoring the body-mind and detoxifying it. In this pose, you scoot your booty up to a wall, and then swing your legs up the wall so that your torso is lying comfortably on the ground while your legs are vertical, supported by the wall space. Place an eye pillow over your eyes for further relaxation. Allow the breath to naturally slow as you settle into the posture, allowing gravity to take over. This pose restores the adrenal glands, supports colon health, and improves fluid circulation throughout the body.
It’s now time time move into some restorative seated forward bends. The following poses give your organs a gentle massage while also stimulating both the liver and kidneys—giving your digestion a much needed boost. To make these poses even more restorative in nature, you can add a bolster into the mix!
Half Seated Forward Bend (Ardha Paschimottanasana)
You may know this pose by its sanskrit name, ardha paschimottanasana. It’s a great detox pose because it stretches the ascending and descending colon. From seated staff pose, with your legs straight out in front of you, simply bend the right knee and place the right foot against the top of your left inner thigh. Straighten up through the spine on an inhale, and then exhale as you fold over the left leg. As you breathe here, you’ll feel a gentle twist in your center. This is where the detoxification takes place. After holding the pose for several breaths, repeat on the other side.
Seated Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Upavistha konasana, seated straddle, is the perfect pose to round out this detox practice before savasana. From staff pose, simply bring your legs into a wide-angled straddle position. Lift up through the torso and ground down through the sits bones before folding forward. You can use a bolster to rest your torson on for further restoration. Otherwise, support yourself with your forearms as you breathe deeply into the pose. Take a 5-minute savasana to further integrate this practice.
The holiday season can be fun and moderately indulgent when you incorporate these detoxifying and restorative poses into your weekly yoga routine. As always, it’s all about balance. Have fun, and then bounce back!