Written by Allegra Johnson, Secondary Education Coordinator + CYT 200 + 95 CYT
"Detox is a way of creating space. It is a pruning so our inner voice can be heard and nurtured.” ~ Allegra Johnson
The holiday season can be an emotionally dense time for most of us.
The holidays can bring up that which has been dormant, especially when you add family into the mix.
Sometimes, these times can be saturated with joy, gratitude, and connection. Other times, loneliness, stress, and grief come up. Or most common of all, a beautiful, messy combination of all these emotions!
Good or bad this time often calls us to transformation. The beginning of the year can compel us to “pay fierce attention to our daily choices” as Dr. Liza Johnson says in her workbook, Know. Choose. Give.
The stillness of winter offers the perfect opportunity to pause. We can start to bring our awareness to our lives and take inventory of how we spend our time, money, and energy. In this stillness, we can reawaken and reacquaint ourselves to the parts of our lives that make us feel most connected, most beloved, and most like our true selves.
And so, what a beautiful gift after a season of emotional data, to have an invitation to put these reflections to action in the new year; to offer a sweet tenderness of intentionality to your life and to more fully align every choice to your values.
4 Ways Yoga Can Help Support Detox
Yoga is often considered a holistic practice that benefits the mind, body, and spirit. While it may not directly "detoxify" the body in the way some detox diets claim, it can support overall well-being and potentially contribute to the body's sophisticated detoxification processes.
Detox is a way of creating space. It is a pruning so our inner voice can be heard and nurtured.
Personally, when experiencing a time of reflection, I tend to want to initiate change and transformation without contemplation or pause, or most importantly, balance.
The word “resolution” is often overused and, quite honestly, has been commandeered by many advertisers to bring feelings of guilt and scarcity meant to make us consume.
There is also a temptation to try and be perfect while nitpicking ourselves to the point of self-harm.
There can be a temptation to always add in more. More self-care, more exercise, journaling, prayer, activity without being willing to release or let go of habits that aren’t serving us.
Contrary to this modality of adding more, detox invites us to subtract and be open to what emerges.
Here are several ways in which yoga may aid in detoxification:
Improved Circulation: Many yoga poses involve stretching and twisting, which can help stimulate blood flow and improve circulation. Better circulation means that oxygen and nutrients are delivered more efficiently to cells, and waste products are removed more effectively.
Lymphatic System Activation: The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in the body's detoxification by removing waste and toxins. Certain yoga poses, especially those that involve gentle inversions, may help stimulate the lymphatic system and facilitate the drainage of lymph fluids.
Stress Reduction: Chronic stress can contribute to the accumulation of toxins in the body. Yoga is known for its stress-reducing benefits, as it promotes relaxation and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Reducing stress levels may indirectly support the body's detoxification processes.
Mind-Body Connection: The holistic nature of yoga encourages a mind-body connection. This awareness may lead to healthier lifestyle choices, such as mindful eating and avoiding substances that may be harmful to the body.
The Yamas and Niyamas: Purity
In the practice of yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas are ethical principles that help guide the practitioner's ability to live a more skillful life.
And so, Adele says the principle of purity invites us to ask yourself, “can you leave yourself alone?”. Can you lovingly free yourself from the gunk in your life and create space for your true self to flourish?
It opens our hands and hearts to receive the wisdom of ourselves and the fruits of the present moment. When we live from this center, we find more balance, joy, and peace.
3 Best Yoga Poses to Support Detoxification
One of my favorite ways of helping my mind and body release is through a physical practice of yoga.
And while many variations of poses can offer detox, release, or openness, twists are one of the most beneficial. Yoga poses that involve twisting can help wring out the organs and improve digestion.
According to Yogapedia, “When we twist, the organs of detoxification in the abdominal region get a good massage. The organs in the digestive system temporarily get their blood supply cut off when we twist into the pose, and then receive a fresh source of blood when we come out of the twist. The cells detoxify and waste moves out of the system.”
And so, a twist physically and energetically can be a vehicle for a "wringing out," so to speak. I love to think of a damp towel as I twist; as you twist a damp towel the liquid releases more fully. There is a detox occurring, a letting go.
Additionally, twists have a powerful way of influencing a release physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Following a twist, you may feel an openness or a spaciousness in your spine. Our spine offers so many important functions to the body, including connecting our upper body to lower body. This center can hold tension and compression.
Best Yoga Poses for Detoxing
Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana): Sit with legs extended, bend one knee, and place the foot outside the opposite thigh. Hug the knee with the opposite arm and twist toward the back, placing the hand or elbow on the outside of the bent knee.
Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana): Begin on your hands and knees, slide one arm under the opposite arm, lowering the shoulder and cheek to the mat, creating a gentle twist in the spine.
Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana): Lie on your back, bring one knee toward the chest, and then cross it over the opposite leg. Extend the arm in line with the shoulder and gently twist the torso, looking in the opposite direction.
After a twist, I encourage you to find stillness to simply notice. Fight the urge to put meaning or words to your release and just see what comes up for you.
Be sure to add extra hydration into your day as well!
Perhaps the stillness will encourage you to see where you can detox activities, noise, people, or food that are no longer serving you. Only you have the wisdom to know what in your life needs to be released so you can make room for yourself.