How To Detoxify Your Body Without Giving Up Your Favorite Foods

Anna and I are in spring cleaning mode. Cleansing everything from our closets, to our bodies,  to any chaos that has broken out emotionally during a long winter trapped indoors. One of our favorite ways to shake off winter and gear up for the spring is to practice a detoxifying yoga series. Certain yoga poses can help stimulate circulation, increase metabolism, and aid digestion and lymph systems to help your body eliminate toxins the same way certain foods can.  

Twisted Postures: Twisting postures literally wring out the colon to get things moving.

Forward Folds for Detox: Folding postures massage the internal organs and fire up the digestive system. There are many options of poses within this  family of asanas.

Inversions for Detox: As the name implies, inversions get the heart above the head so gravity pulls fluids in the opposite direction. This action has a direct impact on circulation of blood and lymph, and helps to eliminate toxins in a way our normal upright posture doesn’t.

I am nearing the end of my own spring cleanse and would like to share with you a short yoga series that I practiced daily to support and enhance my cleansing process. A proper cleanse will not only provide you with a physical detox but a mental detox as well. If you find yourself unexpectedly crying into your mid afternoon green juice over a fight with your sister that you had a year ago then don’t be at all surprised. In addition to adding the physical detoxification, this sequence of poses is meant to help promote and aid with any mental and emotional detoxification that occurs during you cleanse experience. 

Downward Dog (Adho Muka Svanasana) into Three-Legged Down Dog

 Downward facing dog is a very calming pose that is often used to slowdown our heartbeat and bring us back to our breath during a yoga practice. The calming nature of this pose is great for centering us as our Emotional BS bubbles up from within during the cleanse. 

In addition to aiding us in chilling the hell out the, Three-Legged Dog (one leg in the air version) provides us with a great detoxifying flush. By dropping the head below the heart while lifting the leg into the air blood circulation is increased and fresh blood is flushed throughout the entire body.


Get Into It

  1. Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. The fold of your wrists should be parallel with the top edge of your mat. 
  2. Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back.
  3. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands.
  4. Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs. Imagine your hips and thighs being pulled backwards from the top of your thighs. 
  5. Keep your arms straight making sure not to lock out the elbow. Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. As you lengthen your spine, lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling. Now, simultansouly  press out through your heels and the palms of your hands.
  6. Keeping your arms and legs straight, inhale and lift your right leg straight back and up, high in the air. Flex your right foot and reach back through your heel.
  7. Internally rotate your lifted leg so your knee and the top of your foot point down toward the mat. This will cause your right hip to lower slightly. Reach back further through your right heel and then draw up again through the back of your thigh.
  8. Keep your standing leg strong and your shoulders squared to the top of your mat. Imagine that your hands and heels are aligned along one straight, diagonal line.
  9. Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. Firm the outer muscles of your arms and press your index fingers into the floor. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and toward your tailbone. Broaden across your collarbone.
  10. Keep your standing leg firm while pressing your heel toward the floor.
  11. Align your ears with your upper arm. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.
  12. Hold for 5-20 breaths.
  13. To release, exhale as you lower your right foot to the mat and place it next to your left foot. Repeat the pose on the opposite side.

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) 

Great pose for when your stressed and just completely mentally and physically exhausted. Cleansing has been know to cause all of the above. Yes there is a turning point in the cleansing process when you get your energy back and the fog lifts without the help of a 24 oz. coffee; but until then there is Uttanasana. In allowing the head to drop below the heart this pose delivers a dose of fresh blood to the brain to help to relieve fogginess and make us more alert.


Get Into It

  1. Begin by standing at the top of your mat with your hands on your hips.
  2. Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso.
  3. Bend your elbows and hold on to each elbow with the opposite hand. Let the crown of your head hang down. Press your heels into the floor as you lift your sit bones toward the ceiling. Turn the tops of your thighs slightly inward. Keep a slight bend in the knees being careful not lock out the knees.
  4. If and only if you can keep the front of your torso long (NO ROUNDING OF THE LOW BACK!) and your knees straight, then go ahead and place your palms or fingertips on the floor beside your feet. Bring your fingertips in line with your toes and press your  into the mat. If you have tight hamstrings and fingertips to the Matt is not an option without the low back rounding out then try placing your palms or fingertips onto one or two tall blocks stacked several inches in front of your feet, below your shoulders. Keep a small bend in your knees and extend your heart forward as you press into the blocks.
  5. Engage your quadriceps (the front thigh muscles) and draw them up toward the ceiling. 
  6. Bring your weight to the balls of your feet. Keep your hips aligned over your ankles.
  7. Slightly lift and lengthen your torso with each inhalation. Release deeper into the pose with each exhalation. Let your head hang.
  8. Hold the pose for up to one minute. To release, place your hands on your hips. Draw down through your tailbone and keep your back flat as you inhale and return to stand at the top of your mat.

Chair Pose (Ukatasana)

This pose increases your lung capacity, invigorates, and energizes your entire body. Greater lung capacity means more oxygen to the blood and brain and that means greater energy. Yet another way to combat any sluggishness you may feel during the cleanse.

Bonus Benefit! This pose is a total belly toner and if done properly will defiently get you closer to a flatter low belly. 


Get Into It

  1.  Begin standing with your feet hip distance at the top of your mat.
  2. Inhale and raise your arms above your head, perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Exhale as you bend your knees, bringing your thighs as parallel to the floor as they can get. Your knees will project out slightly over your feet and your torso will form approximately a right angle over your thighs.
  4. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs as you reach your elbows back towards your ears. Draw your ribcage down as you lengthen your tailbone down to the floor, keeping your lower back long. DO NOT ALLOW THE RIBS TO POP FORWARD!
  5. Bring your hips down even lower and lift through your heart. There will be a slight bend in your upper back.
  6. Make sure the knees stay tracking over the center of your foot rather then knocking inwards. They will want to knock in don’t let it happen!
  7. Shift your weight into your heels and firm your butt. You should be able to lift your toes wiggle them around without a problem.
  8. Spread your shoulder blades apart. Spin your pinky fingers toward each other so your palms face each other, rotating your arms outward through your thumbs.
  9. Gaze directly forward. For a deeper pose, tilt your head slightly and gaze at a point between your hands.
  10. Hold for up to one minute. Then, inhale as you straighten your legs, lifting through your arms. Exhale and press through your feet as you straighten legs to return to standing at the top of your mat.

Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Ukatasana)

All the benefits of Ukatasana (in case you missed it see above) plus the added bonus of a twist. In this pose you are actually stimulating the liver and digestive system while toning the abdominals. Basically this pose kicks seriously helps improve the elimination process within the body.

Get Into It

  1.  Begin standing with your feet hip distance at the top of your mat.
  2. Inhale and raise your arms above your head, perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Exhale as you bend your knees, bringing your thighs as parallel to the floor as they can get. Your knees will project out slightly over your feet and your torso will form an approximate right angle over your thighs. 
  4. Lower your arms and bring your palms together in prayer position at your chest.
  5. With an exhale twist your torso to the right. Bring your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh.
  6. Shift your left hip back slightly, making sure your hips are square to the front of your mat. Pay attention to your knees! Your knees will tend to knock inward keep your knees centered over your ankles and make sure that both knees stay in line with one another.
  7. Press your upper left arm against your thigh and draw your right shoulder blade into your back to turn your chest to the right.
  8. Turn your gaze upward.
  9.  Use each inhalation to lengthen your spine and with each exhalation aim to deepen the twist  Stack your top shoulder above your bottom shoulder. Draw your thumbs to your heart, and your heart toward your thumbs.
  10. Keep your weight firmly in your heels.
  11. Hold for up to one minute. Inhale as you return to center, reaching both arms overhead. Press through your feet and straighten your legs as you inhale and return to stand at the top of your mat. Repeat on the second side.

Wide Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Prasarita Padottanasana stretches the backs of the legs and because of its wide stance you receive a great inner groin a stretch as well. Not surprisingly with the head is brought below the heart, this pose has all the benefits of inversions—especially bathing the poor old tired brain with freshly oxygenated blood to perk it up. This pose is a great substitute for Sirsasana (the next pose in this sequence) for those with neck issues or those uncomfortable with going upside down.

Get Into It

  1. Standing at the top of your mat, bring your hands to your hips, turn to the left and step your feet wide apart. Turn your toes slightly in and your heels slightly out so the edges of your feet are parallel to the edges of your mat. 
  2. Inhale and lengthen your torso, reaching the crown of your head up toward the ceiling. Exhaling, fold forward at the hips. Keep the front of your torso long. Drop your head and gaze softly behind you.
  3. Bring your hands to rest on the floor between your legs. Keep your elbows bent and pointing behind you. If your hamstrings are tight and your hands do not not reach the floor use blocks to bring the floor up to you. If your a total gumby and can get your head and hands easily to the floor then bring your feet closer together.
  4. Shift your weight slightly forward onto the balls of your feet.
  5. Keep your hips aligned with your ankles, then walk your hands back even further. Work toward bringing your fingers in line with your toes.
  6. Strongly engage your quadriceps and draw them up toward the ceiling.
  7. Lengthen your spine on your inhalations and fold deeper on your exhalations.
  8. Bring the crown of your head down further, resting it on the floor if possible.
  9. Hold for one minute. To release, bring your hands to your hips. Press firmly through your feet and inhale to lift your torso with a flat back. 

  Head Stand Sirsasana

Inverted poses (where hips are over your heart) help drain accumulated lymph fluid from the lower half of your body and are known to increase metabolism by stimulating the thyroid gland. This pose is optimal towards the end of any practice because the toxins released during the practice are flushed toward the heart to be re-circulated, oxygenated and cleansed.

Get Into It

  1. Use a folded blanket or sticky mat to pad your head and forearms. Kneel on the floor. Lace your fingers together and set the forearms on the floor, elbows at shoulder width. Roll the upper arms slightly outward, but press the inner wrists firmly into the floor. Set the crown of your head on the floor. If you are just beginning to practice this pose, press the bases of your palms together and snuggle the back of your head against the clasped hands. More experienced students can open their hands and place the back of the head into the open palms.
  2. Inhale and lift your knees off the floor. Carefully walk your feet closer to your elbows, heels elevated. Actively lift through the top thighs, forming an inverted "V." Firm the shoulder blades against your back and lift them toward the tailbone so the front torso stays as long as possible. This should help prevent the weight of the shoulders collapsing onto your neck and head.
  3. Exhale and lift your feet away from the floor. Take both feet up at the same time, even if it means bending your knees and hopping lightly off the floor. As the legs (or thighs, if your knees are bent) rise to perpendicular to the floor, firm the tailbone against the back of the pelvis. Turn the upper thighs in slightly, and actively press the heels toward the ceiling (straightening the knees if you bent them to come up). The center of the arches should align over the center of the pelvis, which in turn should align over the crown of the head.
  4. Firm the outer arms inward, and soften the fingers. Continue to press the shoulder blades against the back, widen them, and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the weight evenly balanced on the two forearms. It's also essential that your tailbone continues to lift upward toward the heels. Once the backs of the legs are fully lengthened through the heels, maintain that length and press up through the balls of the big toes so the inner legs are slightly longer than the outer.
  5. As a beginning practitioner stay for 10 seconds. Gradually add 5 to 10 seconds onto 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 add 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay every day or so until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 minutes. Come down with an exhalation, without losing the lift of the shoulder blades, with both feet touching the floor at the same time.

Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Open your body, open your mind! One of the most notable benefits of backbends, such as camel pose, is anxiety and stress relief. As you work to increase the flexibility of in your spine and relieving tension in your neck, back, and shoulders, you simultaneously increase your mental flexibility. This pose has been found helpful in improving appetite, digestion and excretion of food. It cures constipation, gas or bloating and other digestion related problems. Yes!!! All things we need for cleansing.

Bonus Benifit! If your stuck slumping over a desk all day this pose is great for relieveing a stiff neck and shoulders. 

Get Into It

  1. Begin by kneeling upright with your knees hip-distance apart. Rotate your thighs inward and press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. 
  2. Place your hands on your hips Lengthen your tailbone down toward the floor and widen the back of your pelvis.
  3. Lean back, with your chin slightly tucked toward your chest. Beginners can stay here, 
  4. If you are comfortable here, you can take the pose even deeper. Reach back and hold onto each heel. Your palms should rest on your heels with your fingers pointing toward your toes and your thumbs holding the outside of each foot.
  5. Keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor, with your hips directly over your knees. If it is difficult to grasp your heels without feeling compression in your low back, tuck your toes to elevate your heels. You can also rest your hands on yoga blocks placed to the outside of each foot.
  6. Lift up through your pelvis, keeping your lower spine long. Turn your arms outward without squeezing your shoulder blades in towards one another. Keep your head in a neutral position, or allow it to drop back without straining or crunching your neck.
  7. Push your feet down into the floor. Lengthen your tailbone down, engage your butt, and firm your abdomen.
  8. Hold for 30-60 seconds. To release, bring your hands back to your front hips. Inhale, lead with your heart, and lift your torso by pushing your hips down toward the floor. Your head should come up last. 

Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana) 

Wheel Pose energises you physically and mentally. This pose stimulates the thyroid and pituitary glands, working to counteract stress, depression and anxiety. Additionally, Wheel enhances the nervous system and improves hormone secretions that keep your body in optimal health. 

Get Into It

  1. Begin by lying flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Bend your knees, keeping your feet parallel and aligned with your hips. Draw your heels close to the edges of your buttocks.
  2. Reach your arms up overhead, and then bend your elbows so that you can place your palms on the floor at either side of your head. Your fingertips should rest beneath your shoulders. Keep your forearms parallel as you extend your fingers toward your heels. Reach your elbows directly up toward the ceiling.
  3. Inhale as you press your feet firmly into the floor and lift your hips upward toward the ceiling. Contract your buttocks, thigh, and abdominal muscles to support your lower back.
  4. Keep your feet and legs parallel. Press through the palms of your hands and lift your shoulders off the mat. Do not rest your bodyweight on your head! 
  5. Realign your arms to make sure they remain parallel — do not let your elbows splay to the sides. Hold for a few breaths.
  6. On an exhalation, engage your back and butt muscles. Shift your weight from your palms to your feet, and one deep exhalation push your torso upward, straightening your arms and lifting  your head completely off the floor. Press the weight of your hands equally through your index fingers. Draw your chest toward the wall closest to your head. 
  7. Move your chest  toward the wall behind you. Straighten your arms and legs even more. Turn your thighs slightly inward. Broaden your shoulder blades across your back. Let your head hang. Gaze at the floor between your hands.
  8. Hold for up to 20 breaths. Release the pose by first bringing the crown of your head to the mat, and then your whole body. Rest on your back with your knees bent and dropped together.

Seated Twist (Marichyasana III Prep)

This pose tones and messages the abdominal organs. Twisting and lengthening your spine can make you feel re-energized and revitalized. Squeezing out toxins from your abdominal organs will cleanse and refresh you, inside and out. 

Get Into It

  1. Begin seated on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, arms resting at your sides. 
  2. Bend your right knee. Keep the left leg straight. Cross the right foot over the left leg, placing the sole of your right foot flat on the floor on the outside of your left leg. 
  3. Inhale, engage your abdominal muscles length your torso and extending up through the crown of your head. If your lower back is rounding out place a folded blanket under your seat.
  4. On an inhalation, raise your left arm overhead. Exhaling, twist to the right, with your torso against the inside of your right thigh. Place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Keep your forearm raised, with your fingertips pointing toward the ceiling. To deepen the pose, lower the left forearm and hold onto the left knee. Reach behind your body with your right hand and rest it on the floor behind you.
  5. Spiral your torso around your spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head.
  6. With each inhalation, make your spine longer; and with each exhalation, twist a little deeper.
  7. Turn your head to gaze over your right shoulder.
  8. Press your inner right foot firmly into the floor. Keep the front of your torso long. Draw your tailbone down to the floor.
  9. Hold for up to one minute.
  10. To release, exhale and unwind your torso. Come back to center and extend both legs in front of you. Repeat the twist on the opposite side.

Cow Face (Adho Mukha Gomukhasana)

Most of us are aware that our shoulders and neck tightening up when we are stressed; but we don’t realize what role stress plays on our hips.  The psoas is the main muscle of the fight or fight” response of the body.  When you are startled, your psoas contracts, when you have mental or emotional stress, the psoas will respond by tightening. This pose works deeply into the hips in order to release these deeper emotions you have stored within the lower half of your body.

Get Into It

  1. Begin seated in with your legs extended in front of you and your arms resting at your sides.
  2. Bend your knees, placing the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Then, bring your left foot underneath your right knee and slide it to the outside of your right hip. Stack your right knee directly on top of the left, and then slide your right foot to the outside of your left hip. Your weight will want to rest more heavily on the butt cheek of the bottom leg. Shift your weight slightly from side to side until you are sitting evenly on both sit bones.
  3. Make sure the both feet are aligned evenly with the outside of both hips. Press the outer edge of your feet into the ground and flex your feet. Place your hands on the bottom of your feet. Press your hands into your feet while simultaneously pressing your feet back into your hands to deepen the stretch through your hips.
  4. Inhale, engage your abdominal muscles length your torso and extending up through the crown of your head. Do not slump down through your low back!
  5. If your are able to keep length through your spine inhale lengthen through your spine and on your next exhaling bend forward from the hip. Lengthen the front of your torso. Imagine your torso coming to rest on your thighs, instead of tipping your nose toward your knees.
  6. Hold the pose for up to one minute. On an inhale come snd  gently uncross your legs. Repeat the pose on the opposite side for the same length of time.

Seated Forwad Bend (Paschimottanasana) 

Holding a forward fold calms and soothes your body and your mind, restoring balance and equilibrium. In addition, forward-bending yoga poses improve your digestion and appetite. They also provide relief from insomnia, and can be therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, and sinusitis.

Get Into It

  1. Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Reach actively through your heels. If you are unable to sit without rounding out through your low back, place a folded tool or blanket under your seat.
  2. Engage your legs, working your inner thighs inward and down toward the floor. Keep working the legs, keeping the feet flexed, and working the toes back toward your face.
  3. Inhale as you reach your arms out to the side, and then up overhead, lengthening your spine.
  4. Exhaling, bend forward from the hip joints. Do not bend at the waist. Lengthen the front of your torso. Imagine your torso coming to rest on your thighs, instead of tipping your nose toward your knees.
  5. Hold onto your shins, ankles, or feet — wherever your flexibility permits. You can also wrap a yoga strap or towl around the soles of your feet, holding it firmly with both hands.
  6. Keep the front of your torso long; do not round your back. Let your belly touch your legs first, and then your chest. Your head and nose should touch your legs last.
  7. With each inhalation, lengthen the front torso. With each exhalation, fold a bit deeper.
  8. Hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, draw your tailbone towards the floor as you inhale and lift your torso.


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