15 Mar A Detoxifying Yoga Practice for Spring
In Spring we move from the dank and dark world of winter to the promise of new life. As the Daylight hours increase, we have the opportunity to restore ourselves energetically and physically.
In this Detoxifying Yoga Practice for Spring we move through standing twists that cleanse mind and body, to restorative postures that ground and connect us to the new season.
As we give ourselves to this practice, we are encouraged to slow down, move mindfully, and discover the yoga beyond the pose.
Use this Detoxifying Yoga sequence to massage your digestive system for a thorough spring cleanse, while creating a stillness from within to help you to renew with the advent of Spring…
From a kneeling position, bring the big toes together and separate the knees as wide as the hips (no wider). Fold forward from the crease of the hips, and make sure that the arms are fully extended from the arm pits or to the sidde of the body. Placing the forehead towards the floor, and close the eyes and breathe into the low back and belly. Set an intention (sankalpa) for yourself as you enter this new season: What are you bringing back to life? How do you intend to welcome the new season of light? Remain here for 2 – 3 minutes
Come to all fours, and then press back to Downward-Facing Dog. From Dog, step the right foot forward to the hands and lower the left knee to the mat. Bring the hand to the hip, and if the posture feels steady sweep the arms upwards and overhead, bringing the biceps toward the ears, as you reach up through the sides of the waist. Take 6-8 breaths. Then place the hands down and step back to Down Dog. Repeat on the left side.
From Downward-Facing Dog, step the right foot forward, staying on the back toes. Bring the hands to the heart in a Namaste. Press the palms together in a prayer position, and then bring the left elbow to the outer edge of the right knee with a twist. Use the side obliques to deepen the detoxifying twist. Take 6–8 deep breaths. Inhale back to Crescent Lunge. Exhale, place the hands to the mat and step back to Down Dog. Repeat on the left side.
From Down Dog, step the left foot forward. Bring the right foot in about ½ a metre. Straighten both legs and make sure that your hips are facing forward towards your knees, and your left knee lines up with the centre of your chest. There maybe a little negotiation here! But try and start the pose with a sense of steadiness if possible.
As you lift your arms overhead, and twist the upper body around to your left side. Bring your left hand to your left hip and extend from the outer edge of your right foot to the finger tips of your right hand. Stand firmly into the back foot and extend forward to bring your right hand to your left shin or your left foot, whichever feels more appropriate.
Rotate your torso inward and to the left hand side. As you draw the crown of the head forward, elongate the spine. Take 6–8 deep breaths. From here, move directly to the posture below:
Twisting Half Moon
From Twisting Triangle, fold over the front leg placing both hands onto the floor or two blocks. Next, shift your weight forward onto your front left foot and lift your back left leg off the ground so that the inside edge of your inner right thigh is parallel to the floor. Place the right fingertips on the mat directly under the right shoulder. Rotate the chest toward the left hand side as the fingertips of the left hand reach upwards. If the spine is not parallel to the mat, place a block under the right hand to lengthen the spine.
Firm the standing leg and continue to draw the standing hip in toward the midline. Take 6–8 deep breaths. Lower the right leg to meet the left at the top of the mat and fold forward. Step back to Down Dog and repeat Twisting Triangle and Twisting Half Moon on the right side.
From Down Dog, float to Plank Pose. Lower one forearm at a time to the floor and stack the elbows directly under the shoulders. With the forearms pressing down into the mat, work the skin of the heels of the feet towards the back of the mat, and reach the fingers forward. Draw the chest forward, and spread the collarbones wide. Focus on the lower belly and keep the nape of the neck long. Take 6–8 deep breaths. Come back to Downward-Facing Dog.
Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor. On an inhalation, draw the chest upwards. Imagine your upper chest is a sail that has just caught a gust of wind. As you inhale, that sail rises, broadens, and floats with ease.
Maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don’t harden the buttocks. Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine. Take 6–8 deep breaths. Press back to Child’s Pose
From Child’s Pose, come to all fours, and then come to sitting. sitting on a block or the edge of a folded blanket for support. Your feet should be underneath the knees with toes pointing forwards. Allow enough space inbetween the pubis and calf muscles to lay a spans width of your hand inbetween them. Bring your left hand to the outer side of your right knee, and then your right hand back behind the body. Twist from your tummy to the right. Keep the chin in line with the mid chest. Take 12 deep breaths. Change the crossing of the legs and repeat on the second side.
Half Lord of the fish
As in the photo above, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, buttocks supported on a folded blanket or block. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling.
Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh together.
Press the inner right foot actively into the floor, release the right groin, and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone into the floor.
With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, pushing the fingers against the floor to help. Twist a little more with every exhalation. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don’t concentrate it in the lower back. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time.
Head to Knee Pose
Starting from Dandasana. Sit on the floor with your buttocks lifted on a folded blanket and your legs straight in front of you. Inhale, bend your right knee, and draw the heel back toward your perineum. Rest your right foot sole lightly against your inner left thigh, and lay the outer right leg on the floor, with the shin at a right angle to the left leg (if your right knee doesn’t rest comfortably on the floor, support it with a folded blanket).
Press your right hand against the inner right groin, where the thigh joins the pelvis, and your left hand on the floor beside the hip. Exhale and turn the torso slightly to the left, lifting the torso as you push down on and ground the inner right thigh. Line up your navel with the middle of the left thigh. You can use a strap to help you lengthen the spine evenly, grounding through the sitting bones.
When you are ready, you can drop the strap and reach out with your right hand to take the inner left foot, thumb on the sole. Inhale and lift the front torso, pressing the top of the left thigh into the floor and extending actively through the left heel.
Exhale and extend forward from the groins, not the hips. Be sure not to pull yourself forcefully into the forward bend, hunching the back and shortening the front torso. As you descend, bend your elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor.
Lengthen forward into a comfortable stretch. The lower belly should touch the thighs first, the head last. Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. Come up with an inhalation and repeat the instructions with the legs reversed for the same length of time.
Fold two or more firm blankets into rectangles measuring about 1 foot by 2 feet, and stack them one on top of the other. OR use blocks. You can place a sticky mat over the blankets or blocks to help the upper arms stay in place while in the pose. Then lie on the blankets with your shoulders supported (and parallel to one of the longer edges) and your head on the floor. Lay your arms on the floor alongside your torso, then bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones. Exhale, press your arms against the floor, and push your feet away from the floor, drawing your thighs into the front torso.
Continue to lift by curling the pelvis and then the back torso away from the floor, so that your knees come toward your face. Stretch your arms out parallel to the edge of the blanket and turn them outward so the fingers press against the floor (and the thumbs point behind you). Bend your elbows and draw them toward each other. Lay the backs of your upper arms on the blanket and spread your palms against the back of your torso. Raise your pelvis over the shoulders, so that the torso is relatively perpendicular to the floor. Walk your hands up your back toward the floor without letting the elbows slide too much wider than shoulder width.
Inhale and lift your bent knees toward the ceiling, bringing your thighs in line with your torso and hanging the heels down by your buttocks. Press your tailbone toward your pubis and turn the upper thighs inward slightly. Finally inhale and straighten the knees, pressing the heels up toward the ceiling. When the backs of the legs are fully lengthened, lift through the balls of the big toes so the inner legs are slightly longer than the outer.
Soften the throat and tongue. Firm the shoulder blades against the back, and move the sternum toward the chin. Your forehead should be relatively parallel to the floor, your chin perpendicular. Press the backs of your upper arms and the tops of your shoulders actively into the blanket support, and try to lift the upper spine away from the floor. Gaze softly at your chest.
As a beginning practitioner stay in the pose for about 30 seconds. Gradually add 5 to 10 seconds to your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 3 minutes. Then continue for 3 minutes each day for a week or two, until you feel relatively comfortable in the pose. Again gradually and 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 minutes. To come down, exhale, bend your knees into your torso again, and roll your back torso slowly and carefully onto the floor, keeping the back of your head on the floor.
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