It’s that time of the year when we start to pull out our summer clothes and bikinis and we might be feeling a little less then excited to bare some skin. Yoga is the perfect way to not only shape up for the warmer months, it also helps to detoxify our internal organs, boost our metabolism, and clear up our skin after a long winter.
Twists are wonderful ways to get the blood flowing and clean out stale air in our lungs and stale thoughts in our mind. You can think of twisting like wringing out a dirty dish rag. At the end of our cleaning we always wring the sponge out. As you spring clean your body, you’re ringing out the kidneys and liver and cleaning out any junk in the trunk so to speak. Your body will not only feel lighter but you’ll have more spring in your step and more energy.
In Chinese Medicine, the liver is associated with the spring time so it helps to detoxify the liver and clear our vision in order to make room for fresh, new ideas. In the winter we are more reflective and we plant the seeds that can then bloom in the spring. In order to flower, we need lots of fresh water and oxygen. Yoga breathing is the most efficient way to bring more oxygen in to our lungs and to increase our circulation and metabolisms. Forward bends and inversions with our legs overhead helps to reverse the flow of blood, stimulate the lymph system and refresh our minds and spirits.
Certain postures like Eagle pose are known to stimulate the circulation in the legs and can help combat cellulite and vericose veins. Warrior 3 is a great way to strengthen our legs and core and wonderful for all over body toning. It is also a pose of confidence and action and in the spring we can really step forward with our new ideas and eating/exercise plans with pride and determination.
Bridge pose and supported shoulderstand are great ways to stimulate the thyroid gland which can help stimulate our metabolic rates and help us find our own confidence in our bodies as they are.
I’ve created a sequence for you to do for your Spring Detox/Summer Shape Up plan and I’ve included some modifications as well so a very beginner or an advanced yogi can do this routine.
1. Standing Forward Bend
Standing with feet hip distance apart, hinge forward at your hips while keeping a slight bend in your knees. Lay your chest on your upper thighs as you let your head fall toward the floor. Engage your quadriceps muscles, and slowly try to straighten your legs, making sure your knees don’t lock and your hips stay over the center of your feet. Hold for 5–8 slow, deep breaths.
2. Eagle Pose
Bend your knees slightly and cross your right leg over your left leg high at the thigh, then try to double cross it behind the left calf or ankle. Wrap your left arm under your right and back over top, and press your palms together. Squeeze thighs tight and pull your belly to your spine while you sink lower, bending slightly at the knee and forward at the waist. Hold for 5 breaths, then repeat with arms and legs reversed.
Make it easier: If double-crossing your legs is too challenging, cross just once at the thigh and rest your top foot’s toes on the floor for balance. If your shoulders are too tight to double-cross your arms, wrap under only and press the backs of your hands together.
3. Warrior III
Stand with your feet together and point your right toe behind you, tipping your weight forward onto your left leg. Continue to lift your right leg and drop your head and torso until you are in a straight horizontal line from head to toe, hands at your sides. Make sure your right thigh, hip, and toes (pointed or flexed) stay facing down to the floor; imagine balancing a tea cup on your lower back. Keep your left kneecap lifted, not locked, and keep your balance centered in the middle of your foot. Hold for 5 breaths, slowly come back to a standing position, and switch legs.
Make it easier: Reaching your arms out to the side like airplane wings can help you keep your balance, or you can hang onto the back of a chair or reach out and touch a wall if balancing on 1 leg is too difficult. The important thing is to keep your back flat and your body in a straight line.
4. Bridge Pose
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the mat, hip-distance apart. Press down into your feet, and lift your hips and butt off the floor. Push your shoulders down away from your ears and interlace hands under your hips, pressing fists down into the mat. Tighten your hamstring and butt muscles and your core, and hold for 5–8 breaths. Lower slowly to the floor, and repeat 2 more times.
5. Supported Shoulder Stand
Lie on a mat with a folded blanket or folded second mat under your shoulders, so that your neck and head are 1–2 inches lower than your shoulders. Pushing your hands palms-down against the mat at your sides, bend your knees. Lift your feet, butt, and lower back off the mat and reach your legs over your head, aiming your toes toward the floor behind you. Pushing your back farther off the ground, bend your elbows and place your palms against your lower back for support as you lift your legs straight into the air and reach your feet toward the ceiling. Be sure your weight is distributed evenly across your shoulder blades and back of your head. Hold for 30 seconds at first, then gradually work up to 5 minutes.
Make it easier: Snuggle your back and butt up to a wall, then twist around so your legs are straight up the wall while you lie back on the floor. (Your butt should still be tight up against where the surfaces meet.) Press your thighs into the wall as you keep your feet parallel, slightly flexed, and hold for 5 minutes.
I hope you find this helps add a lightness to your mind, body and spirit. Now go outside and take a deep breath of fresh spring air in and celebrate your own beautiful uniqueness and body. The beauty of yoga is it is not only skin deep it, it penetrates on every level of your being. Always remind yourself that everything you could possibly ever, want, have or need is right here inside of you.
If you have any other questions about Yoga, Detox, or Fitness in general please visit my Contact page.