“Your body is your temple.
Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.”
– BKS Iyengar, yoga teacher & author of “Light on Yoga”
The ancient practice of yoga is so much more than physical poses.
It’s also about harmony, fluidity, and dynamic balance.
Rather than being something we do, yoga is a state of being and a lifestyle that isn’t just limited to being on the mat.
The yogi knows their body is sacred, and it should be treated with respect and reverence.
The body and mind function at their best when there is a dynamic balance occurring within the body and all its systems.
The yogic principle of Brahmacharya teaches us to honor this balance by observing non-excess, temperance, and self-control.
But we are also human and sometimes overindulgences will occur.
These excesses usually come in the form of alcohol, food, and sugar, and can lead to an accumulation of toxins in the body.
Your body is wise and intelligent and it knows what it needs to do to clear them out, and a little help from us can go a long way.
That’s when we should turn to our yoga practice…
How yoga can help you detox
The actual process of detoxification is the removal of toxins and harmful substances from your body.
The process is mainly achieved via the liver, lungs, kidneys, and digestive system.
The liver and kidneys process and excrete toxins via urine and stool.
The lungs remove toxins and gases with each exhale.
Your digestive system gets rid of toxins via the colon or large intestine.
It’s important to know that your body is detoxing every single second of every single day.
It’s not like an on/off button but rather like a subtle, steady stream that never stops.
The best way to support your body’s detoxing abilities is to create daily habits that stick.
There’s no magic bullet here, nor is there any magic twisty asana (yoga pose) that will do the trick and you’re done.
Here are 3 potent but little-known yoga practices that can help to support your body’s systems so they can do their detoxing jobs at full capacity:
As mentioned, this is the yogic principle of self-control and non-excess.
The yogi understands that their body is comprised of vital energy (prana).
When we overindulge in things like processed foods, sweets, and wine an imbalance is created in the body and this creates ripples throughout.
If too many overindulgences happen without giving the body time to recover and detox, these subtle vital energy imbalances eventually turn into disease and physical symptoms.
At its core, the practice of Brahmacharya is about protecting one’s’ vital energy and abstaining from or greatly limiting the things that are known to disrupt prana flow.
This is the yogic principle of cleanliness and purity.
Since a big part of the detox process is done by the liver, kidneys, and digestive systems, this one practice is potent because we can literally target all three players.
There are many ways to help support the body’s innate detox capabilities by practicing Saucha:
- Drinking at least 1.5 – 2L of fresh, clean water every day to stay hydrated and flush out toxins. (Target: kidneys)
- Using essential oils like lemon and grapefruit, since these are known to stimulate lymphatic drainage as this is one of the body’s main flushing systems.
- Eating like a yogi, at least 75-80% of the time means eating a clean diet that helps you process harmful chemicals out of the body while increasing vital energy (prana). (Target: digestive system, liver)
- Oil pulling (1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil mixed with 1-2 drops of lemon, orange, peppermint, or clove essential oil) for 20 minutes every morning helps pull out harmful toxins and bacteria from your mouth, which is an entry point to the rest of your body.
The ancient practice of yoga breathing (pranayama) literally means ‘regulation of vital energy (prana) via the breath.’
And since the lungs are big detox players, giving them a workout with a short pranayama session can make a big difference.
If you’re new to breathwork you can start simple, with this exercise:
- Inhale for 5 counts
- Hold for 2 counts
- Exhale for 8 counts
- Hold for 2 counts
And repeat these four steps at a total of 10 times, minimum.
If you’ve already got a pranayama practice in place, then Kapalabhati pranayama may be for you.
Contraindications include pregnant women, low or high blood pressure, heart disease, epilepsy, migraines, stroke, glaucoma, hernia, gastric ulcer, vertigo, detached retina, chronic nosebleeds, and recent abdominal surgery.
If at any point during your practice you feel dizzy, faint, or light-headed stop immediately.
According to both ancient yogic texts and modern research, this breathing exercise is purifying and cleansing.
It helps to detoxify the lungs and respiratory system and fills the lungs up with oxygen. (1)
It’s also known to purify the blood and tones the abdominal muscles.
- Sit comfortably in an upright position and place your hands on your lower belly.
- Take a nice, big, deep breath in through the nose and out through your mouth before beginning. Think of this initial breath as a reset.
- Inhale through your nose and expand your lower belly outwardly.
- With Kapalabhati the exhalation is strong – exhale forcefully through your nose as your lower belly contracts inwardly towards your spine.
- Make the inhales passive – allow your lungs to naturally fill with air and again forcefully exhale.
- Start our slowly at first, and then when you’re comfortable and familiar with the movements you may speed up the pace.
- Do 7 rounds first them stop and breathe normally and notice the sensations in your body. See if you can sense the subtle yet powerful effects of this practice.