detox before you retox

Summer is, somewhat suddenly, upon us. In my body, early summer time makes me feel a little lazy, sluggish, and congested in my muscles and joints. Warm weather, especially when it’s sudden, retains the water in our system and causes expansion in soft tissue so ┬ánoticing a little bloat when the weather changes is pretty normal.

On top of that, summer months mean barbecues, beers, fried seafood and margaritas. Salty and sweet snacking on top of alcohol consumption only adds to the stickiness in your body, and certainly doesn’t help much with bloat.

The good news is, the warm weather allows our muscles and joints to get juicy and loose much faster than in the frigid winter. Getting yourself to class when it’s so pretty outside can be tough, but even just a one hour stop at the studio will help you combat all of the grogginess of summertime. And, once your body begins to move, you’ll warm up much faster in an active practice, and most likely, you’ll find a nice continuous sweat during your practice. Sweating detoxifies our whole system, rids you of excess water (bye bye beer belly), and indicates that you’ve warmed your system creating space and ease in all of your joints and muscles.

My favorite practice for this purpose is twists! This time of year (and especially after a holiday weekend!) calls for the warming and cleansing practice of twisting. From simply reclined twists to more active revolved chair poses, any and all are welcome on my mat! Twists revitalize the organs and the spine by first compressing, squeezing out any stuck fluid or molecules, then opening up the spongey tissues to re-absorb happy nutrients. Twisting strengthens the abdomen and the obliques, and helps relieve tension in the shoulders and the chest. Twists wring toxins out of the system and through the intestinal tract, making them a perfect post-barbecue remedy.

If you’re experimenting in your home practice this week, try adding some simple lunge twists into your sequence. Add this pose into your standing poses, repeating it a few times on each side and holding for several breaths.

Simple Twisted Lunge
photo credit: Jim Campbell of OmLight Photography

Simple Twisted Lunge

to enter this pose, start in downward facing dog

step your right foot forward, your right ankle should be directly under your knee

reach your right arm straight up at the ceiling, stacking the right shoulder over the left shoulder

roll the left shoulder back

it is optional to reach the right arm past your ear with the palm facing down, but make sure your right shoulder is drawn away from your ear

keep the collar bones broad and revolve the chest towards the ceiling as much as possible without buckling the rib cage forward (the core is drawn in towards the spine and rib cage is flush with the chest)

hold at least 5 breaths and switch sides.

Enjoy! And Happy Wednesday!

rainy day poses

April’s showers seem to have been delayed into May. We’ve had a lot of puddles, thick wet air and worms on the sidewalks this month. This kind of weather shrinks up your muscles and connective tissues, making your tight places feel tighter. For me, and maybe for you, that means my hips and hamstrings start talking to me a little more than usual.

Try this yummy seated pose for a little rainy relief!

Marichyasana B Variation (Seated Hip Opener)

Marichyasana D
a juicy forward bend that releases hips, groins and low back named for a sage.

To come into this pose, sit on your sitting bones, as tall as possible. cross your right leg in front of you as if you were sitting cross legged in Sukhasana.

draw your left leg in so that your knee points straight up and your heel lines up with your left sitting bone.

your left foot is crossing in front of your right leg, traditionally this pose is done with the right leg in lotus but this position puts a lot more pressure on the knee and is only appropriate if you are warmed up and should not be tried without a teacher.

the left side of your seat might lift a little off the floor as if you were squatting, this is okay but stay aware of your lower back on this side and keep the back long and open by reaching your sit bone straight down.

now you are ready to fold over the right leg, on the inside of your left thigh. keep your spine long and reach your chest forward as if you were going to lay it down beyond your right shin.

if you’d like to wrap the arms around the left thigh and the right side of your low back and bind your hands behind your back this is an option if a bind is a regular part of your practice. another variation would be reaching your hands forward to release the upper back.

hold about 10 breaths, release slowly and do the other side!

enjoy, and happy monday!