As the nights draw in and the body goes into winter mode – here is a seven posture sequence to keep the body detoxed and fresh, while keeping that internal fire going too to make sure all the systems run smoothly.
1. Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Allowing your head to fall below your heart in Wide-Legged Forward Bend reverses the effect of gravity, encouraging circulation of blood throughout the body as well as fluid to your filtering lymph nodes. The folding motion also squeezes the belly, which moves things along for digestion. Oh and great for the hamstrings too!
* Stand with your feet four or so feet apart, heels turned out slightly wider than the toes. Standing tall, interlace your hands behind you, pressing the heels of your palms together in a double fist.
* Take a deep breath in and slowly fold forward at the waist, lowering your hands as far as you can. Keep the spine long and straight as you breathe for five deep breaths. Engage your legs and slowly rise up to stand.
2. Three-Legged Downward Dog
Holding your head below your heart and your leg lifted in the air in this variation of Down Dog encourages blood to circulate throughout the body, as well as move fluid to the lymph nodes. If your upper body is strong, this pose can also be very relaxing, which aids in mental detox as well, releasing stress, fear, and sadness.
* Come onto your hands and knees, so your hands are shoulder-width distance apart, with your knees directly below each hip. Tuck your toes and straighten your legs, coming into Downward Facing Dog.
* Keeping your shoulders parallel with the floor, step both feet together and raise your right leg into the air. After five deep breaths, lower the leg and repeat this pose with the left leg lifted.
3. Open Side Fierce
If you want to strengthen your lower legs, Open Side Fierce will have your quads and glutes burning. This deep twist also aids in digestion. You’ll feel the gentle pressure on your kidneys, liver, and spleen, which stimulates the removal of waste.
* Stand with both feet together, bend your knees, and squat down coming into Fierce Pose. Cross your right elbow over your left thigh, planting your right palm on the floor beside your left foot. If you can’t reach all the way, just allow your fingers to hover in the air, as close to the floor as possible.
* Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, stacking your shoulders, and gaze at your lifted palm. Make sure both knees are parallel. Hold for five deep breaths.
* Press into your feet, inhale to rise back up to Fierce, and exhale to repeat this pose on the right side, holding for another five breaths. Then rise back up to Fierce pose and straighten the legs.
4. Staff Pose
Poor posture can stifle proper lung function, and doing Staff pose encourages lengthening of the spine so your lungs can fully expand and contract with each breath. Healthy, deep breathing encourages the body to eliminate carbon dioxide, lactic acid, lymphatic fluid, and other wastes.
* Sit on your mat with both legs straight in front of you. Place your palms flat on the floor beside your hips and actively press into the ground. Keep both arms as straight as possible and lengthen your spine, imagining it is a sturdy staff or cane someone would use to walk with. Roll your shoulders away from your ears and tuck your chin, engaging your leg muscles and flexing your feet.
* Stay here for five deep breaths, keeping your belly still, watching your lungs expand and contract.
Tip: Lift your rib cage up with your hands and feel the ease in the lungs!
5. One-Legged Seated Spinal Twist
Twisting poses are all about aiding in digestion, which encourages the elimination of wastes. Take this One-Legged Seated Spinal Twist as deeply as you want to go.
* Sit on your mat with both legs straight in front of you. Bend your right knee, planting the sole of your foot about eight inches or so away from your left inner thigh. Place your right hand on the floor behind you and press your left elbow against the outside of your right knee.
* Stay here if this is enough of a twist, or clasp your fingers together. If it’s really easy, do a deeper bind around your right knee by holding your left wrist with your right hand, squeezing the top of your left leg with your left fingers (as shown in the photo).
* Continue twisting and lengthening the spine, enjoying this twist for five breaths.
This pose strengthens the back of the body, but the pressure on your abdomen also encourages digestion.
* Lie on your belly with your legs together. Place your arms by your sides with your palms facing up. As you inhale, lift your legs, head, and upper body off the floor. Your hands remain on the floor for support.
* As you breathe, relax your shoulders and the muscles in your bum. Extend the crown of your head away from your toes, lengthening as much as you can through your spine.
* Hold for five breaths and then release back to the mat.
7. Bound Headstand
Another pose where your heart is above your head, Headstand removes toxins in the circulatory and lymphatic systems. This is also a pose that’s typically held 10 breaths or longer, and focusing on deep breaths clears out carbon dioxide from the lungs.
* If you’re new to this pose, sit facing a wall. Place your clasped fingers and head on the floor about eight inches or so away from the wall. Straighten your legs and walk your feet toward your head. Bend one knee and tuck it into your chest. Using your abs and hamstring flexibility, lift your other leg off the floor so both knees are tucked into your chest, in a pose called Bound Headstand Prep: Tuck.
* With complete control, slowly lift and straighten both legs up, coming into Bound Headstand. If balancing is hard, bend one knee and place the sole of your foot on the wall. Hold for five, 10, or more breaths. Then slowly bend your knees into your chest, lower your feet to the floor, and rest in Child’s Pose.