Yoga for Detoxing: A Fresh Start for Your Body and Mind

An image of the word 'detox' spelt with fruits

Detoxing with Yoga

People love to start each New Year with something new. If you are looking to kick off 2014 on a healthy, fresh, positive note, try yoga. Yoga helps you to remain in the present, moving forward, never looking back.

The right yoga routine can also help you detox your body and mind.

How does Detoxification work?

There are three main systems of the body that play a crucial role in the elimination of waste —

  • Circulatory system: pumps blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen to and carrying waste products away from cells.
  • Digestive system: processes the food we eat, separating nutrients from waste and eliminating anything the body doesn’t need.
  • Lymphatic system: collects intracellular fluid from throughout the body and transports it to the lymph nodes where anything harmful (such as bacteria or other contaminants) can be removed before the lymphatic fluid is returned to the bloodstream.

It’s a robust system that works well on its own. But to cope with the heavy demands of modern living (increased stress levels, poor diet, increased pollution, etc.), we need something else to be part of our lifestyle. Most forms of vigorous exercise stimulate all three systems of elimination to some extent, thereby helping the body in its quest to cleanse and detox. But yoga’s inside-out approach gives it an extra edge.

The Yog Circle | Detoxing with Yoga

How can Yoga facilitate Detoxification?

  • Focusing on systematically stretching and compressing every part of the body, is particularly well-suited to keeping the waste-removal departments of the body functioning well. This facilitates the removal of waste products such as carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and lymphatic fluid from the deep tissues and extremities of the body that other forms of exercise just don’t reach.
  • Yogic breathing also plays an important role in promoting detoxification. Sitting with poor posture obstructs the lungs from inflating fully, and our chronic state of low-grade stress often leads to a clenched diaphragm. As a result, we don’t take in as much life-sustaining oxygen when we inhale or expel as much of the potentially hazardous carbon dioxide when we exhale.
  • Yogic breathing helps clear out carbon dioxide from the lung tissue, stimulates the organs of digestion, and can, over time, retrain the diaphragm to move freely. And when the diaphragm moves with its natural fluidity, the abdominal organs are massaged and the lungs are fully emptied with every breath — not just the ones you take on the yoga mat.

Mental Detox through Yoga

In addition to its physical benefits, yoga aids in mental detox as well:

  • Slowing Down: Reducing stress and mental over-activity is perhaps the most important element of a successful detox plan. Habitual rushing, multitasking, and dealing with information overload are the main reasons for toxicity. Like an overtaxed liver, an overtaxed mind and nervous system can lead to a host of health issues, including adrenal fatigue, insomnia, irregular menstrual cycles, indigestion, and unwelcome weight gain.
  • The inward focus of Yoga practice teaches us how to say “no” to the outside influences that pull your attention and energy in so many directions—and by replacing them with healthier choices—you’ll begin to tune in to your body’s natural rhythms and detox more effectively.
  • The heightened awareness of a yoga practitioner helps purge toxic thoughts by teaching you to move your awareness away from the chaos of the mind and back to the present moment.

Yoga Poses for Effective Detoxification

Specific yoga poses/practices can help expedite the detoxification process. The heating and twisting sequence designed for this plan can help move toxins from your tissues through your lymphatic and digestive systems so that they can be eliminated from the body.


Easily the best practice to cleanse your lungs of residual carbon dioxide. This could also be your start-up practice as it exercises abdomen muscles and massages inner organs.

Want to know how to correctly perform Kapalbhati and how doing this yogic practice can give you radiant skin? Check out our blog on the topic:
Yoga and Kapalbhati: Your Path to Timeless, Glowing Skin

(Insert link to Kapalbhati blog here)

Twisting postures

Squeeze the abdominal organs and stimulate digestion and elimination.

  • Marichiyasana 3 (Marichi’s Twist):
    • Sit up tall with your legs straight.
    • Bend your right knee and bring the sole of your right foot to the floor just in front of your right sitting bone.
    • Rest your right hand on the floor behind your back for support.
    • Reach your left hand up so strongly that your ribcage lifts up.
    • Rotate your torso to the right and bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
    • Stay for 5 deep breaths, gradually and gently using the sensation of your left elbow pressing into to your right leg to encourage your torso to twist further to the right.
    • Either look behind you, over your right shoulder, or straight ahead, depending on what feels best to your neck.
    • Repeat on the other side.

The Yog Circle | Marichiyasana

  • Supine Twist:
    • Lie on the ground, hug right knee into chest, “T” arms out to either side and allow right knee to fall to the left.
    • You can stay with a neutral neck or, if it feels good, look to the right.
    • You can also take your left hand to the right thigh to allow its weight to ground the right leg.
    • Stay here for at least 5 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

The Yog Circle | Supine Twist

Downward Dog

Getting the heart higher than the head reverses the pull of gravity and aids in the circulation of blood and lymph. Also gently tones the abdomen, which stimulates digestion.

  • Start on your hands and knees with the entire surface of your palms pressing into the floor and your toes tucked under.
  • Slowly lift the knees and straighten the legs.
  • Press equally into the hands and feet and lift your sitting bones up as you move the thighs back.
  • Allow the head to hang. Stay for 5–10 deep breaths.

The Yog Circle | Downward Dog

Legs Up the Wall

Bathes the abdomen in fresh blood and stimulates the digestive organs. Soothes the nervous system.

  • Sit in front of a wall with your right hip and shoulder touching the wall.
  • Bend your knees and roll onto your left side, so your feet and seat are touching the wall.
  • Roll onto your back and extend your legs so that they rest on the wall.
  • Either rest your hands on your belly or let your arms lie on the floor, palms up.
  • Stay for at least 10 deep breaths.

Do these poses in order any time you feel like you need a cleansing. As you do these moves, use each inhale to lengthen and each exhale to wring yourself out like a sponge, getting rid of anything you no longer want or need. Remember to practice on an empty stomach for optimal results.

The Yog Circle | Legs Up the Wall

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