3 Detoxifying Poses For A Post-CNY Cleanse
Skip the fad diets – try these yoga moves to boost your digestion and feel lighter + happier this festive season!
Lunar New Year, one of the most important holidays for the Chinese, is not only a festival that celebrates all things new, but one that fetes the abundance of life with food, glorious food.
In keeping with tradition, reunion dinner tables heave with dishes painstakingly wrought from time-honoured family recipes, while each visitation to friends and family brings fresh waves of butter-laden pineapple tarts, glistening barbecued pork slices, and all varieties of sweet and savoury snacks. Resistance is futile.
As your caloric intake spikes during this festive period, it might be tempting to turn to fad diets the likes of insufferable juice cleanses or broccoli-only meals. But hold off the drastic diet calls – instead, return to the mat, for asana practice in itself is a form of healthy detox, improving blood circulation in the body, digestive tract, and lymphatic system.
With a robust lymphatic system in place, your body is better equipped to rid itself of toxins and waste. Meanwhile, a healthy digestive system will also help to alleviate common digestive ailments – ranging from indigestion to constipation – that arise from overeating.
Asana #1: Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose)
Benefits: This asymmetrical seated forward-bend might seem deceptively simple, but when executed with the correct form, it helps to stimulate the liver and kidneys, tone abdominal organs, and improve digestion.
Execution: Sit on the floor with both legs positioned straight in front of you. As you inhale, bend the right knee and shift the heel towards the groin, resting the sole of the right foot against your left inner thigh. Press your right knee towards the floor, taking care to align the shin at a right angle to the left leg. As you exhale, bend forward and wrap both hands around the left foot, making sure to keep the front of your torso lifted. Begin to deepen the stretch by lengthening the front torso and extending your arms forward. As you dip your head closer to your legs, bend the elbows out to the sides – this helps to ease your torso deeper into the stretch. Finally, lengthen forward fully into a comfortable stretch. The belly should touch the thighs first, followed by the head. Find stillness in this pose for one to three minutes. After you release the pose, repeat the steps with your right leg.
Tip: If you’ve sustained any knee injuries, place a folded blanket under your knee and avoid flexing the knee completely.
Asana #2: Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolving Side-Angle Twist)
Benefits: Besides strengthening the legs and stretching the spine, chest, and shoulders, this invigorating post also stimulates the abdominal organs, improve digestion, and aid in elimination.
Execution: Begin by standing in Tadasana (mountain pose). Step the left foot back and bend the right knee to ensure the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Be sure to keep your right thigh parallel to the floor. Inhale and raise your left arm while lifting the left heel off and pivoting on the ball of your foot. Keep the left leg active by lifting the thigh and extending through the left heel. To fold into your twist, exhale, turn your upper body to the right and bring the left arm outside of the right knee. Fold your palms together in front of your chest, ensuring that your elbows form a straight line. Turn your head to look up. Hold the pose for a minute.
Tip: If you have neck problems, don’t twist your head upwards. Instead, look straight ahead or down at the floor.
Asana #3: Bharadvajasana (Bound Half-Lotus Spinal Twist)
Benefits: Named after Bharadvajasana, one of the seven great Sears, this spinal twist massages the internal organs, especially those closely tied to the digestive system. Sedentary desk-bound warriors will also find relief from lower backaches, neck pain, and sciatica.
Execution: Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Gently bend the left knee and position the foot alongside the left buttock. Ease into half lotus pose by drawing your right foot onto the left thigh. Thereafter, reach your right hand behind the back and grab your right foot. Keep both sit bones grounded on the floor. With your palm facing down, place your left hand on the right knee. Inhale and lift the breastbone to lengthen your torso. As you exhale, twist your torso to the right. Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds. Release and switch sides.
Tip: For ladies, this pose is best avoided during your moon cycle due to the pressure it exerts on the inner organs.