Four Ways to Move for Detoxification
This past month, our detox theme coverage in the Vitarock blog included nutrition (Parsley the Superfood), supplementation (Milk Thistle for Detox and Liver Support), handy lifestyle tips (St. Patrick’s Day “Scientific” Survival Care Package), and detoxifying your home (Non-Toxic Spring Cleaning Tips). Today, we discuss exercise. Plus, see the bottom of this article for some of our favourite detoxification products to add to your regime.
Here are four types of movements, borrowed from yoga, that can contribute to a cleaner you. I will break each one down so you can practice on your own or maybe be inspired to check out a "detox yoga class".
Twists are a major category of poses in Hatha Yoga. Pictured here in this article is a “prayer lunge twist” that is both strengthening and cleansing. Twists deliver both compression and stretching. Notice in the photo that the abdominal area and the torso are being turned or twisted around a straight spine (important). Try it, or maybe start with an easier seated twist. Sit up straight in a chair, plant your feet flat on the ground, and grab your left knee with your right hand and pull yourself into a twist, looking gently over your left shoulder. Take five deep breaths, then switch sides. If you follow this order, you will be compressing the ascending side of the large colon first, and then the descending side. That’s what you want.
Twisting the spine creates a wonderful “twist and soak” effect, a powerful flushing action. While in the twist, blood and lymph fluid is temporarily squeezed out and the flow is halted. Upon release of the twist, nutrients in blood and lymph fluid rush back in to soak and flush the tissues throughout the area.
Compression, when applied to the abdominal area, is a great way to stimulate digestion and elimination, two key components in detoxification. Compression and physical manipulation of the abdominal area is a great way to speed up transit time of the digestive process and is particularly valuable when herbal cleansing, to quickly remove liberated liver toxins. Lie on your back, and draw your right knee In towards your right armpit and hold for five breaths. Squeeze hard! Then, do the left side. All crunches and abdominal work, including static holds like “plank pose”, also provide healthy compression to your abdomen.
In addition to twists and compression poses, you will often see inversion poses in a detox yoga class. Inversions are poses that bring the head lower than the heart. Full inversions like headstand and handstand completely invert the body by bringing the legs and hips over the heart and head. Incorporating inversions into your life are vital if you want to really cleanse the lymphatic system, which unlike the circulatory system, has no pump. Lymph fluid relies on our moving around throughout the day to circulate, which delivers nutrients and takes away toxins.
Option 1: If you have enough arm strength, try kicking up into a handstand against a wall. First, place your hands eight inches away from a wall, and keep your eyes on your fingers. Then kick up with one leg and then the other while keeping your belly firm.
Option 2: If handstands are not your idea of fun, then try laying down with your legs up a wall, or build a mountain of cushions on your floor; lie with your feet at the summit and your head at the base. Turn on some relaxing music and let the reversal of gravity work its magic in your body. Relax here for 5-10 minutes. Note – if you have any retinal wall afflictions, then do not attempt inversion poses without consulting a doctor first. The added pressure in the head can aggravate some eye problems.
Stretching is an excellent addition to your cleansing exercise regime, with many applications and benefits. It’s another way to compress and flush various areas of the body. Touching your toes, for example, stretches the entire back body, from your calves and hamstrings to the spine and neck. Furthermore, it’s also an easy inversion! (And it also compresses your abdomen.) Can’t touch your toes? Try bending your knees and resting your belly on your upper thighs and just grab opposite elbows. The point is to stretch the backs of the legs and the entire spine, not just the low back. Counter this stretch with a backbend. Stand up, place your hands on your buttocks like you are putting your hands in your back pockets. Then look straight up and gently arch back until you feel the entire front of your body stretching, from your shins and thighs to your chest. Lift your arms up high for extra lift if that feels safe. Breathe fully for five to ten breaths in both your forward and backward bend.
Here are some of our favourite detoxifying things that can help you make cleansing part of your life.