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Quick and Dirty Yoga Detox and Cleanse Yoga Sequence


It’s a New Year, and we could all use a little help to cleanse, detoxify, and boost our immune systems. One of the ways the body cleanses itself is through the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, and groin don’t have an internal pump system the way the heart does, so to move lymph, we must move the body. Twists and inversions also stimulate digestion and circulation. Each pose may be held for 5-25 breaths.

Check with your doctor if you have any health concerns. This sequence is not appropriate for pregnancy.

1. Cat/Cow

On hands and knees, inhale into a backbend, lifting your tailbone and chin towards the sky, and as you exhale, round the spine, pointing the tailbone and chin down. Continue with your breath.

2. Downward Dog

From hands and knees, walk your hands farther forward and lift your hips up and back so you make the shape of an inverted V.

3. Revolved Lunge

Step your right foot forward, keeping the knee over the ankle,and lower your back knee down. Take the hands into prayer and twist so that your left elbow hooks onto your right thigh. Optionally lift your back knee. When you are ready, switch sides.

4. Pigeon Pose

From Downward Dog, lay your right shin behind your hands, avoiding any pain in the knee. Your left leg stretches straight back behind you. You may fold forward. Switch sides when you are ready. 

5. Inversion 1: Headstand or Legs Up the Wall

Headstand is counterindicated if you have neck, shoulder, or eye pressure issues or if when menstruating. Legs Up the Wall is a great alternative: bring your bum up close to the wall and swing your legs up.

For Headstand, come to your knees and forearms and interlace your fingers. Place the crown of your head down so you can feel your wrists touching your head and see your elbows in your peripheral vision. Lift your knees and walk the feet as close to your face as possible. Lift one leg at a time (Try my short tutorial here: Afterwards, rest in Child’s Pose.

6. Inversion 2: Shoulderstand or Supported Bridge

If Shoulderstand is not appropriate (for the same reasons as Headstand), try Supported Bridge: lay on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Lift your hips and place a block or bolster under the back of your pelvis. Widen your feet so the knees can rest against each other and relax.

For Shoulderstand, lay on your back with your legs extended up. Swing your legs toward you and catch your lower back with your hands. Work your hips over your shoulders, legs extending up, and shuffle your shoulders as close to each other as possible.

7. Plow Pose or Forward Fold

For Forward Fold, come to a seat and extend your legs straight out in front of you. Keep your spine long as you fold over your legs.

From Shoulderstand, come into Plow: let your legs come over your head towards the floor. In Sanskrit, Plow pose is Halasana or “poison removing pose.”

8. Fish Pose

Gently return to your back and bring your thumbs to touch, palms facing down, under your bum. Lengthen the legs onto the floor in front of you and squeeze them together. Lift your chest and head off the floor so the crown of your head rests lightly on the floor.  

At last: Savasana. Having rinsed everything out, enjoy a few minutes of rest lying flat on the earth. 

Julie Peters

Julie Peters is a staff writer for Spirituality & Health. She is also a yoga teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) and co-owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in Vancouver, BC, with her mom, Jane. She is the author of Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016) and WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango Media 2019). Learn more at Follow her at @juliejcp.

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