Spring is seen as a time to detox; of cleansing away the excesses of winter comfort foods and helping the body reach new heights of energy and freshness.
Actually the body is detoxing all the time. That is the liver’s job. However with some simple additions to our health regime we can assist our hard working liver in its tireless toils.
Yoga can address the liver’s function in a couple of ways. Firstly if we sit for long periods of time we tend to lose our good posture and round our spine. This rounding of the spine compresses the front of the body which puts pressure on all our internal organs making it so that the flow of blood to and from the organs is impaired, creating a type of sluggishness. So with yoga asanas we can address the strength of our core, helping us to lift up and lengthen the torso and give lots of space for the internal organs to function optimally. Assisting in this are the side stretches which wonderfully open up the sides of our body. Side stretches specific to the liver would be those that bend to the left as the liver lies on the right side.
Inversions are said to be beneficial for all our internal organs as they are given a brief reprisal from the pull of gravity. This is said to have a rejuvenating effect on them, much like an internal massage.
Right nostril breathing is also reputed to have a beneficial effect on our liver as the right nostril governs the right side of the body. According to Swara Yoga the right nostril also influences all physical aspects of the body as opposed to the left nostril which influences on the mind.
The system that is often neglected in our talks about health is the lymphatic system. If our lymph flow is sluggish then we will feel sluggish as well. Waste products will accumulate around our cells causing toxic build up and even limiting the flow of digested food to the liver for detoxification.
Yoga asanas are a wonderful exercise for addressing the flow of lymph. While all aerobic activity including yoga flows will be advantageous for the flow of lymph, yoga’s special advantage is in its pranayama practices (controlled yoga breathing). Many of the yoga breathing methods stimulate lymph flow by activating the diaphragm which in turn stimulates the flow of lymph around the body.
The body is a wonderful machine designed to see us through to a ripe old age with very few problems. What gets in the way of this, causing ill health, lack of energy etc are, apart from genetic malfunctions, our poor lifestyle choices with our diet, exercise habits and ability to handle stress. A yoga lifestyle ticks all the boxes of our health needs including a healthy vegetarian diet, stretching, strengthening stamina building exercises, relaxation, breathing and meditation – a perfect combination for a perfect as possible life.
Hope to see you at one of our yoga or meditation classes soon for your spring detox! Namaste,
By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training