Are you embarking on a gentle cleanse this January? While we wouldn’t advise a full detox at this time of year (best to wait until Spring, the most ideal season for the body to detox), it can be a good idea if you’ve been over-indulging in rich foods and total relaxation during the festive season. That way, your body can be fully prepared for a cleanse, come spring. As it so happens, yoga is an excellent detoxifier for the body (and mind) to assist you during this process. Try incorporating prana yoga teacher Michaela Olexova‘s simple yoga tips for the month to help nourish body, mind soul and have you off to a great start this new year.
Over centuries, detox has been a way of life for yogis around the world with powerful yoga postures, cleansing breathing exercises and meditation to rid their bodies of toxins, boost immunity and create an optimum wellbeing. For yogis detoxing your body and mind is about prevention – not going on an aggressive diet that can harm you if not supervised and you shouldn’t be satisfied with a quick fix medicine to deal with the stresses of a fast-paced modern life either.
Before you start any detox it’s absolutely essential to get a better understanding of how your finely-tuned body engine operates by connecting to yourselves and discovering what your body needs more or less of, in order to function to its highest capacity. According to yoga, the secret to physical, mental and emotional wellbeing lays in introducing simple cleansing rituals into your day that promote a strong body and flexible mind, restore balance and combat toxins in a gentle and natural way, delivering benefits and results that last.
Use the cleansing breath such as Kapalabhati to ignite your inner glow and improve your digestion in the morning and Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) to release your mental tension and purify the energy channels in your body towards the end of the day.
- Kapalabhati is best performed on an empty stomach in a comfortable crossed legged position with your back straight.
- Start controlling your breath by quickly contracting the abdominal muscles pulling the abdomen in sharply as you exhale through the nose.
- Relax the abdominal muscles and allow your body to passively inhale while the lungs inflate with air.
- The active exhalation and passive inhalation follow each other in a regular rhythm for a round of 20-30 pumping breaths.
- If you’re a beginner do up to 3 rounds, holding your breath briefly for about 10 seconds after each round.
- Make sure your face and upper torso is relaxed and you only keep breathing through the nose.
- Don’t perform Kapalabhati if you’re pregnant, have any heart problems or high-blood pressure!
- YOGA ASANAS
When you stretch your body you create more space and remove the blockages for the life-force energy (Prana) to flow freely. Try Sun Salutation every morning to awaken your body energy or spinal twists that help release the tension, open your joints and massage the internal organs in your abdomen.
- For Half Spinal Twist sit on your heels and drop the hips to the floor on the left side of your heels.
- Place the right foot flat on the outside of your left knee and make sure your seat is grounded and you’re not sitting on the left heel. If you need to adjust your posture and centre yourself move your right foot forward or backward slightly.
- Beginners: Bring the right arm behind the back with fingers on the floor to support your spine alignment. Then bring the left arm across your right knee and try to reach for the right ankle.
- Advance: Bring the right arm behind the back and then bring the left arm across your right knee and reach under this knee to catch hold of the right hand near your left hip.
- Try to find more spaciousness in your upper body to open to the side with each inhalation and relax any tension as you exhale. Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
- Your focus points are the areas of the spinal twist – your lower back, your upper back (between your shoulder blades) and your neck (looking behind your shoulder).
Candle gazing meditation is a great way to release the emotional tension, improve your mind focus, centre yourself and create more mental space to get better clarity. It’s also an excellent introduction to meditation and helps open your third eye chakra.
- Light up a candle at your eye level about 30cm away from your eyes. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax and settle down.
- Open your eyes and start gazing into the flame intently without being distracted by your thoughts or things around you. Allow thoughts to flow freely through your mind.
- Keep channeling your energy and holding the gaze without blinking your eyes for as long as it’s comfortable for you or to the point when your eyes get watery and you feel tears flowing.
- Then close your eyes and start visualising the flame by positioning this ‘after-image’ at the centre of your forehead between your eyebrows – your third eye (Ajna Chakra).
- Keep restoring the position of the ‘after-image’ until it fades out completely. Bring your awareness back to your breathing and watch your body breathe naturally for about 10 breaths. Repeat the whole round one more time.
- INTELLIGENT DIET
Begin your day with a cup of hot ginger & lemon drink to awaken your digestive fire and choose only fresh, light & natural food to receive the most nutrients throughout the day. This Goji Immunity Booster is not only soothing, it also provides the right amount of vitamins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents to get you back in shape on a cold winter day.
- Ingredients: 5 slices of fresh ginger, 2 slices of lemon, 6 leaves of sage, 15 goji berries, 1 tbsp honey
- Preparation: Put all ingredients in your cup and add hot (not boiling) water. Allow to brew for 10 minutes and enjoy your drink.
Find some time to relax your body & mind to restore your energy in a natural way. Try Savasana, take herbal bath, walk in the nature or have a massage. Same as our computer needs to be switched off at the end of the day, spending more time offline without any outer disturbances will help you recharge and rejuvenate your system.
- Savasana or Corpse Pose is best performed at the end of the day to slow you down and help you relax.
- Lie down on your back with your legs apart and arms away from you body. Take five deep breaths and try to relax your whole body towards the floor, allowing your muscles to melt down completely.
- Return to a natural breath and watch your body breathe without you putting any effort into your breath. Don’t fight your thoughts if they occur, allow them to come and go freely.
- Start scanning your body from your toes moving up towards the crown of your head and visualise your body releasing the tension from every muscles, joint, bone, heart, brain, cell, etc. as it exhales.
#GetYourOMBack at www.michaelaolexova.com
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