We’ve heard it all before. As we get into downward dog, perform a seated twist or engage in pranayama breath, our yoga instructor always tells us how we’re releasing toxins from our body. Of course, this sounds great, BUT I can’t help wondering: does yoga actually release toxins from the body?
After doing some light midnight googling, I was able to find that the idea of detox yoga was popularized by master yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar, who touted the "squeeze and soak" theory.
According to Iyengar, when you twist and compress the muscles and organs during yoga, you’re actually blocking the flow of blood. When you release the pose, you send blood back to those areas with improved circulation and nutrients. Again, this sounds great, but I think I need a little more detail.
Breaking it down
To understand how yoga detoxes the body, we need to figure out how the body detoxes on its own.
When our bodies are healthy, they actually detox themselves through the digestive system, lymphatic system and circulatory system. But, if we indulge too much on sugar and junk food, maybe have too many glasses of wine or skip our workout commitments, then it gets tougher for our bodies to detox naturally.
This is when we turn to yoga. By performing yoga twists for digestion, backbends and forward folds, we are able to massage and put pressure on our organs, which helps release the build up of toxins.
Squeeze and soak theory
Let’s get back to the squeeze and soak theory by B.K.S. Iyengar. When we get into a seated twist, we are putting pressure on the gallbladder, kidneys, liver, spleen and intestines—you know, the hard working detoxing organs. When we twist our core, we’re blocking blood flow and, when we release, we’re sending new and oxygen-rich blood back to those organs. With better circulation, our organs are able to perform their bodily functions better.
Surely this goes without saying, but digestion is key in ridding waste from the body. So, when we perform asanas for digestion, like backbends and forward folds, we put pressure on the stomach. This encourages movement in our bowels, which then helps release toxins from our bodies. Forward folds get an extra shout out though—they also send blood to our heads and lymph nodes which is a detoxifying bonus.
It sounds simple because it is. If you’re still wondering how to detoxify the body, then the simple answer is to just do yoga. Yoga poses for detox are inherently part of every yoga flow, so sign up for a Vinyasa class at your local studio and enjoy the detoxifying benefits of yoga.
Take away: yoga for detox
Yoga in itself is detoxing. Everything from the breath to the poses (and, if you’re taking hot yoga, then the sweat) contribute to cleansing the body and ridding it of toxins. And, while yoga is a huge help in keeping your body healthy, staying on track with a balanced diet, limiting your alcohol intake and developing a daily yoga practice at home will all contribute greatly to your overall health.
About the Author
Certified Life Coach, CBT therapist, and Hypnotherapist, Krissi Lawton strives to challenge women to discover their true infinite power through her Empowerment Coaching. You can typically find Krissi drinking a chai tea latte in between yoga sessions or driving to Cali to get in a much needed ocean meditation. Krissi believes yoga has the ability to transform lives from the inside out and encourages her clients to incorporate yoga into their daily routine to see happiness blossom.