If you have been too busy to get your favourite yoga class lately and feel as if you have been neglecting yourself and your wellbeing. Roll out your mat and enjoy this calming and cleansing yoga ritual anytime, any day you have a spare 20-30 minutes.
A combination of energizing and detoxing yoga poses, this sequence stimulates your circulatory, digestive and lymphatic systems which remove toxins from our bodies. If you are short on time, you can pick and choose from the poses below. However, the benefits will be greater if you complete the entire sequence in the order suggested below. It is also safer to work through the poses in this order.
Create the vibe of your favourite yoga studio
Play a beautiful, eastern soundtrack, dim the lights, fragrance the room with sandalwood incense, turn up the heat a degree or two. Pull on your yoga gear. Gather all the things you might need, your yoga mat, a block and a strap if you normally use them. Turn off all your devices to avoid distractions.
Set an intention for your yoga practice
By setting an intention at the beginning of your practice, you are building a bridge between what you work through on your mat, and what you continue to focus your mind on when you step off of your mat. This intention is a powerfully energetic tool to take your practice into the world. It is also a way of making yoga an important aspect of your lifestyle, rather than something you do just for exercise. An intention is brining your attention and awareness to a quality or virtue you wish to cultivate for your practice both on and off of your mat. Some examples of qualities or virtues you might use as your intention include: patience, gratitude, being present in the moment, love, forgiveness, letting go, releasing negativity, being open to receive, inner strength, or peacefulness.
Warm up with Sun Salutations
Sun Salutations get your blood flowing and tug and pull every muscle and joint in your body with counteracting stretches. In minutes, a clear and focused mental state takes over where grogginess lingered. Using your own body weight and balance, this sequence produces the ultimate total body workout – without props, machines, an instructor or studio fees. Perform five rounds of Sun Salutations to begin your yoga ritual
Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
This pose releases tight hamstrings and because your head is lower than your heart, it also reverses the pull of gravity, encouraging circulation of blood throughout the body as well as fluid to your filtering lymph nodes. The folding motion also squeezes the belly, which aids digestion.
Stand with your feet wide apart, feet parallel, toes pointing forwards. Rest your hands on your hips, inhale and lean your upper torso back. Lift your chest slightly more, on the next inhalation, tip your torso forward from your hips, maintaining as much length in your torso as you can. Touch your fingertips on the floor, or your palms if they reach comfortably, directly below your shoulders. If you can’t reach use a block. Keep your arms straight and perpendicular to the ground. Stay here for five deep, slow breaths. Engage your legs, and slowly rise up to standing. Step back to Tadasana.
Open Side Fierce
This deep side twist aids digestion. You'll feel the gentle pressure on your kidneys, liver, and spleen, which stimulates your body’s natural detoxification process. This is also excellent asana for strengthening your quads and glutes.
Stand with both feet together, bend your knees, and squat down, coming into Fierce Pose. Cross your right elbow over your left thigh, planting your right palm on the floor beside your left foot. If you can't reach all the way, place your fingers on a block or just allow your fingers to hover in the air, as close to the floor as possible.
Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, stacking your shoulders, and gaze at your lifted palm. Make sure both knees are parallel. Hold for five deep breaths. Press into your feet, inhale to rise back up to Fierce, and exhale to repeat this pose on the right side, holding for another five breaths. Then rise back up to Fierce Pose, and straighten the legs.
Three Legged Down Dog (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)
If you have good upper body strength, this pose can be very relaxing. Holding your head below your heart helps clear the mind, and releases stress, fear, and sadness. It also encourages blood to circulate throughout your body, as well as move fluid to the lymph nodes.
Come onto your hands and knees, so your hands are shoulder-width distance apart, with your knees directly below each hip. Tuck your toes and straighten your legs, coming into Downward Facing Dog. Keeping your shoulders parallel with the floor, step both feet together and raise your right leg into the air. After five deep breaths, lower the leg and repeat this pose with the left leg lifted.
Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Twisting poses are all about aiding in digestion, which encourages the elimination of waste.
Begin seated on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. Bend both knees, and place your left heel as close to your right sit bone as you can. Cross your right foot over your left knee, and plant it on the floor so your outer right ankle is next to your left knee. Reach your right arm behind you, and place your palm on the floor. Cross your left elbow over your outer right thigh to gently increase the twist.
Gaze behind you and over your right shoulder, staying here for five breaths. Then release the twist, straighten your legs out in front of you, and do this pose with your left knee pointing up.
The inverted position increases the flow of blood to your brain. This freshly oxygenated blood stimulates your pituitary and pineal glands to calm and revitalize your mind; alleviate stress, insomnia and depression; regulate your metabolism; aid circulation; and improve memory and concentration. Sirsasana also strengthens your lungs and helps relieve colds, cough, sinusitis, sore throat and asthma. This upside-down pose aids digestion, especially if you are suffering from constipation.
If you're new to this pose, sit facing a wall. Place your clasped fingers and head on the floor about eight inches or so away from the wall.
Straighten your legs, and walk your feet toward your head. Bend one knee, and tuck it into your chest. Using your abs and hamstring flexibility, lift your other leg off the floor so both knees are tucked into your chest.
With complete control, slowly lift and straighten both legs up, coming into Bound Headstand. If balancing is hard, bend one knee and place the sole of your foot on the wall.
Hold for five, 10, or more breaths. Then slowly bend your knees into your chest, lower your feet to the floor, and rest in Child's Pose for as long as you feel you need to.
Close your practice
Sit in a comfortable cross-legged,
half-lotus or full lotus position. Lengthen your spine, tuck your chin, rest
your hands palm down on your thighs. close your eyes. Relax your face, jaw, and belly. Let the tongue rest on the roof
of the mouth, just behind the front teeth. Breathe deeply through the nose down
into the belly. Hold as long as comfortable, aim for at least 10 slow deep breaths. Finish by placing your hands in Namaste.
Keeping your hands in Namaste touch your forehead with your fingertips for kind
thoughts, at your lips for kind words, at your centre for kind heart. Repeat
this two more times. Smile and open your eyes.
Take the calm of your practice into your day
Remember at the end of this yoga sequence, and if fact, any ritual to take a moment to reflect on the experience and positive feelings it has created within you and know that you can reconnect to that feeling at anytime. Take your yoga beyond your mat, into your day and out into the world.