A springtime yoga flow to energize and detoxify

spring

Happy almost spring!

It is finally starting to feel a wee bit warmer here in Ottawa. Two days in a row above freezing! I’ll take it after just going through the coldest February in 120 years. The days are longer now and I actually heard birds chirping outside my window – woo hoo!

Spring is a time of transition and renewal, expansion and emergence. Things are melting. New energy is being released into trees and plants. New growth, new buds and little sprouts are poking up. After the dormant energy of winter, spring feels very much alive!

Springtime also invites cleansing and detoxing. We turn off the heat and throw open the windows to air out our homes. We breathe in the fresh air and first scents of rain, soil and new grass. How about extending some of those positive vibes to our bodies and minds?

In the winter, we tend toward higher fat food, more protein, caffeine and sugar. The liver and gallbladder help filter toxins in our bodies. They can get overloaded in the winter with the extra socializing, food and a tendency for less exercise. Use your spring yoga practice to stimulate these organs.

Some ideas for your springtime yoga practice:

  • In keeping with with the vibrant spring energy, synchronize breath and movement with some gentle flow sequences.
  • According to Chinese medicine, the inner and outer legs relate to the liver and gallbladder meridians (energy channels). Poses that help activate these meridians include: Pigeon, Eagle, Wide Leg forward Bend, and Cow Face.
  • Add some twists. Twists are thought to be detoxifying. They aid in digestion and stimulate liver, spleen and kidneys, which helps with the removal of waste from your body.

A Short Yoga Practice to Spring Clean You Body

Try this yoga sequence intended to energize and detox. Download a visual guide here that you can print and bring to your mat.

Sun Breath (3 times)
Start in Mountain Pose, hands at heart center.  Inhale your arms up to the sky. Exhale and fold at the hips. Inhale to a halfway lift. Exhale and fold. Inhale all the way up to standing. Exhale your hands to heart center.

Downward Dog
Step back into Downward Dog. Hold for 3 breaths.

Warrior 2 with flow (Right)
Step your right foot forward into Warrior 2. Inhale and straighten your front leg while extending your arms up to the sky. Exhale and bend your front leg bringing your arms into a t-position at shoulder height for Warrior 2. Repeat 3 times. On the third time, hold Warrior 2 for three breaths.

Vinyasa (movement with breath)
Step back to Downward Dog. Flow forward to high plank then lower to the floor.  Inhale to Cobra or Upward Dog. Press back to Downward Dog.

Warrior 2 with flow (Left)
Step your left forward into Warrior 2. Inhale and straighten your front leg while extending your arms up to the sky. Exhale and bend your front leg bringing your arms into a t-position at shoulder height for Warrior 2. Repeat 3 times. On the third time, hold Warrior 2 for three breaths.

Vinyasa: Downward dog, high plank, low plank, Upward Dog, Downward Dog.

Triangle (Right)
Step your right foot forward into Warrior 2. Straighten your front leg and move into Triangle Pose. Hold for 3 breaths.

Vinyasa: Downward dog, high plank, low plank, Upward Dog, Downward Dog.

Triangle (Left)
Step your left foot forward into Warrior 2. Straighten your front leg and move into Triangle Pose. Hold for 3 breaths.

Vinyasa: Downward dog, high plank, low plank, Upward Dog, Downward Dog.

Downward Dog: Hold in Downward Dog for 3 breaths.

Eagle Pose (Left and right)
From Downward Dog, step both feet forward and come to standing. Bend your knees. Balance on your left foot and cross your right leg over your left. Toes of the lifted leg may be on the ground, lifted or wrapped behind your calf.

Cross your arms in front of your torso so that your left arm is above the right. Bend at the elbows. Press your palms together and lift your elbows toward the ceiling. together. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Repeat on the other side. If Eagle pose is new to you, check out this helpful video demo (it sounds much more complicated in words than it actually is to do!)

Repeat on the other side.

Standing Wide Legged Forward Bend
Turn towards the long side of your mat and open your legs to about 4 feet wide. I like to turn my toes in slightly. Take a deep breath in, exhale and fold forward at your hips lowering your hands to the floor. Keep your hands on the floor in front of your or hold your big toes or ankles. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Turn to the front of your mat and step back into Downward Dog.

Sleeping Pigeon (Left and Right)
Bend your right knee and bring it to your right wrist while releasing your left leg to the floor behind your. Square your hips to the front of the mat. Use your hands to bring your torso upright expanding your chest. Fold forward over your right leg. Repeat on the other side – left knee to left wrist. (Have a look at the first 3 minutes of this video for a demo)

Reclined Butterfly
Lying on your back, bring the bottoms of your feet together. Let your knees fall out to the side. Focus on deep belly breaths. Hold for 5 breaths. Slowly draw your knees in and give them a hug pressing your lower spine into the ground.

Reclined Twist (Left and Right)
Release your knees and let them gently fall to one side. Look in the opposite direction if it is comfortable for your neck. Hold for three breaths. Repeat on the other side (photo here).

Savasana
Stretch your legs out and let your feet fall open. Bring your arms by your side, palms up. Relax into your mat. Stay here for as long as you like.

Are you drawn to any particular poses or practices in the springtime? I would love to hear about them. Just leave a comment below!

Image courtesy of Will Montague

 

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