Clean slate

A Clean Slate, Part One

By

If you treat your body well, feed it nourishing foods, move it consciously, and fuel it with love, you’ll feel and look your best.

That sounds simple, right? But it’s actually fairly complex. As we all know, in the reality of our daily lives, keeping your eyes on that prize can be pretty tricky. This two-part post is dedicated to helping you do that with movements that detox, heal, keep you focused and balanced (both mentally and physically), and with foods that de-bloat and help with digestion.

Let’s start those efforts off with movements that promote a clean slate: The following yoga poses will stimulate your circulatory and lymphatic systems, and help rid your body of toxins by aiding with digestion.

In addition to their physical benefits, they’ll also help clean your mental slate, too. All yoga can also provide mental clarity; its calming and centering aspects are essential for an all-over detox for your mind, helping release emotional toxicity.

And remember: In our yoga practice, each new breath is considered a new moment, meaning you can restart at any time, all the time. Pranayama literally means “extension of life force or vital energy (breath).” Yoga helps you remain in the present, move forward, and never look back.

Downward facing dog

Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart

Fingers are spread, with palms pressing into the mat

Your shoulder blades relax down your back

Let your heels melt down toward the mat

With your belly engaged, your hips lift up and back

This posture helps me feel grounded. It’s the foundation to your yoga practice and it teaches that if you have a solid base, you can move through anything! It also helps you find your center through stillness. Its benefits are many: It encourages blood to circulate throughout the body, as well as move fluid to the lymph nodes. This pose can also be very relaxing, which can help in mental detox as well as release stress, fear, and sadness.

 

Chair pose

Press into your feet

Let your hips sink down toward the mat

Torso lifted, keep your heart open

With arms by your ears, rotate your pinky fingers in slightly

Tuck in your tailbone

As a variation, add this twist: Exhale to bring your hands in front of your heart. Inhale to reach up through the crown of your head, and pull your thighs farther back and down to lengthen your spine. On an exhalation, hook your left elbow outside your right thigh as low as you can get it, and press your palms together. Pull your palms down toward your navel, and push your top hand down a bit more to widen your top collarbone and revolve your chest to a greater degree. Keep your weight on your heels, especially your left heel. Draw your left thighbone back to keep your hips and knees even. Then gently roll your belly, chest, neck, and head even more to the right. Open your arms wide into a straight line, pressing your left arm against your right thigh, leveraging your twist a bit deeper. Press your left hand down into your mat outside your right foot, and reach your right arm upward.

Chair pose is one that strengthens and energizes. The above variation on it is also excellent for aiding digestion; as you feel the gentle pressure on your kidneys, liver, and spleen, you’re stimulating the removal of toxins, while toning your abdominal wall. It stimulates the heart, improving circulation in the blood, respiratory, and lymphatic systems, and relieves mental and physical sluggishness,

 

Triangle Pose

Point your front foot straight ahead, and set your back foot at a 45-degree angle

Keep your front foot aligned with your back heel

Stack your shoulders on top of each other

Lower your hand to the mat, shin, or block

Raise your fingertips towards the sky

Gaze up toward fingertips

Like the warrior poses, this helps support the strength you have within but also I find the openness of the heart to be a reminder to allow more love, joy, and peace into life.

As a variation, revolve your triangle: With an exhalation, turn your torso to the right, and square your hips as much as possible with the front edge of your mat. As you bring the left hip around to the right, resist the head of the left thigh bone back and firmly ground the left heel. With another exhalation, turn your torso further to the right and lean forward over the front leg. Reach your left hand down, either to the floor (inside or outside the foot) or, if the floor is too far away, onto a block positioned against your inner right foot. Allow the left hip to drop slightly toward the floor. You may feel the right hip slip out to the side and lift up toward the shoulder, and the torso hunch over the front leg.

This pose stretches and opens the chest, lungs, shoulders, and spine, increasing lung capacity. The revolved motion stimulates abdominal organs, aiding digestion and circulation, releasing stress and anxiety, and energizing the body and mind.

 

Crescent Lunge

Set your front knee at a 90 degree bend over your front ankle

Keep your hips square to the front

Move your back heel off mat

Point your toes forward and bring your arms by your ears

Tuck your tailbone under and your belly in

Widen your stance to make sure you’re balanced

This is another great pose to bring strength and, through breathing and focus, to find balance.

As a variation, slowly twist your spine to one side, hooking the elbow outside of the knee. Stack the shoulders on top of each other, keeping your heart open and gazing up towards the sky. On the inhale, elongate your spine and on the exhale, take the twist slightly deeper.

That variation pose lengthens and stretches the spine. It also creates flexibility in the rib cage and stimulates the internal abdominal organs and kidneys.

Stay tuned: In A Clean Slate, Part Two, I’ll explore foods that will detox, help with digestion, and bolster your focus and balance.