A New Year and Refined You!
Inhale new, exhale old! 2015 is here and it is time to cleanse yourself of anything that did not serve you in 2014 and welcome in new opportunities in the new year.
I have recently seen numerous articles about creating "a new you" in the new year, and started wondering: do we always need to have this feeling of starting over from square one to find balance and happiness in our lives? Aren't there things we like about ourselves and our lives that we have cultivated over the years?
In yoga class the other day, the teacher invited us to welcome a "refined you" in this year. A Refined You. I swished it around in my mind a few times and liked how it sounded. A Refined You allows you to reflect on aspects of your life that are not working and make steps towards changing them, while growing the facets of your life that are positive and working well.
I invite you to join me this new year in taking steps towards a Refined You and leave you with these 7 Yoga Poses to Detox & Cleanse Your Body to help you get started!
1. Cat / Cow
Benefits: Massages the spine and belly organs.
Instruction: Starting from table top, inhale press into the hands as you arch the back drawing the chest forward while gazing straight ahead or toward the ceiling. Exhale as you round the back, spreading across the shoulder blades as you tuck the chin and tailbone.
2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Muhka Svanasana)
Benefits: Numerous benefits including improving digestion, relieving headaches, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue.
Instructions: Starting at table top reach through the hands as you lift the hips back and towards the ceiling. Rotate the outer upper arms in as you spread across the shoulder blades and pull the belly into the spine. If the hamstrings are tight take the feet to the outer part of the mat.
3. Standing Wide Leg Forward Fold w/ Twist (Prasarita Padottanasana variation)
Benefits: Stimulates and massages the abdominal organs, improves and relieves digestion issues, as well as tones the abdominal wall.
Instruction: Step the feet 4-5 feet apart, feet parallel with toes slightly angled in. Bring the hands to the hips elbows pointing back. Inhale, lift the chest, exhale forward fold. Bring the hands underneath the shoulders. Walk the left hand to the center as you draw the right hand to the right hip. Slowly begin to revolve open to the right, twisting from the belly. Take a few breaths here and if comfortable, reach the right hand towards the ceiling, fingers spread. Switch Sides.
4. Seated Twist (Marichyasana C)
Benefits: Tones the liver and spleen and stimulates the intestines.
Instructions: Draw the right knee in. Reach the right hand to the floor behind you as you lift the left hand toward the ceiling and hook the elbow on the outside of the knee. Inhale to find length in the spine, exhale to twist towards the back of the room. Take a bind (shown below) for a more advanced option if you can maintain length in the spine and the breath does not become staggered.
5. Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
Benefits: Cooling, calming and soothing to the nervous system. Helps to balance the functioning of the endocrine system. Regulates elimination.
Alternate postures: Legs up the wall, Supported bridge with legs extended towards ceiling.
Instructions: Start by laying down on the floor. Draw the legs back over head coming into plow pose. Pressing into the low back with the hands slowly bring one leg at a time overhead. Reach the toes towards the ceiling as you lift the knee caps and draw the belly towards the spine. Gaze towards the toes and avoid looking side to side. Stay for 10 deep breaths. Lower to plow before rolling out back to a supine position.
6. Supine Spinal Twist "Stomach Churning Pose" (Jathara Parivartanasana)
Benefits: Stimulates large intestine and improves elimination. Tones the core and releases muscles in the back, spine and shoulders.
Instructions: Start laying down on the back and lift the knees up to 90 degrees. Draw the arms out to the sides to a T and lower the legs to the right. Allow the head to gently fall the the left as you draw the left shoulder down. To deepen the pose extend the legs to straight. Switch sides.
Benefits: Calms the mind and relaxes the body. Also helps relieve stress, mild depression, headache, fatigue, and insomnia.
Instructions: Spread your feet a little wider than hip distance apart and allow the feet to splay open. Slide your arms a few inches from your body, palms facing up. Close your eyes and allow your breath to be soft and natural. Slowly begin to work your attention up your body, relaxing each muscle from the tips of your toes all the way to the top of your head, ultimately allowing your body to slowly melt into the floor. Stay for 5-10 minutes.
Carolyn is a RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) at Jade Integrated Health. Her classes focus on building strength and flexibility through the fluidity of breath and movement as well as the instruction of proper alignment.