Spring into Yoga: 4 Cleansing Poses for the Blossoming Season

Spring time is finally here and that means warmer weather, longer days, and a chance to get rid all of the clutter we've accumulated over the winter.  This season provides the perfect opportunity for us to make space and cleanse - not only our cabinets and closets, but more importantly, within our bodies.

Here are a few of my favorite cleansing yoga poses for spring. They help flush the toxins that have accumulated in our bodies over winter, by stimulating the lymphatic, circulatory, and digestive systems.

1. Three-Legged Downward Facing Dog

This Downward Facing Dog variation encourages blood circulation and lymphatic system drainage by having the head below the heart and the leg raised.

1. Come onto all fours, with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your hips over your knees.  Tuck your toes and straighten your legs, coming into Downward Facing Dog.  

2. Step both feet together so that your big toes are touching.  Shift your weight into your hands and your left foot, and with an inhale raise your right leg up to the ceiling. Try to keep your hips squared, and your shoulders parallel with the ground.  Your ears should be in line with your arms, as you reach the crown of  your head toward the ground.

3. Hold for five breaths, then lower your right leg down, and repeat on the opposite side.

2. Extended Side Angle Pose

This side stretch stimulates the abdominal organs which helps aid digestion.

1. Begin in Warrior II pose, with left knee bent.  Lower the left elbow down to the left knee. Inhale the right arm up towards the ceiling and then exhale the arm over the right ear, creating a straight line with the right side of your body.

2.  Make sure the left knee stays bent directly over the left ankle.  Slowly sink the hips down towards the floor, and actively reach the right hand in the opposite direction of the right foot.

3. Hold for five breaths. To release, inhale reach the right fingers up and back into Warrior II. Repeat on the opposite side for the same length of time.

3. Lizard Pose

This stretch helps creates space in the areas that tend to get tighter over the winter as it opens the hips, hamstrings, groins, hip-flexors, as well as the chest, shoulders and neck.

1. From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot up to the outside of you right hand, so that both of your hands are inside of your right thigh. Your right foot should be slightly wider than your shoulders.

2. Begin to sink your hips down toward the ground. Slowly walk your hands forwards, and if you are able to comfortably do so, lower down on to your forearms. (Place your forearms on a block or stay up on the palms if this is too deep).

3. Reach your heart forward, creating length in the spine.  Try not to round the back, as you draw the should blades together.

4. Keep your right knee hugging inward, toward your right shoulder.  Your left knee can stay lifted (with your leg active), or you can lower it down to the ground for a more restorative version.

5. Hold for five breaths.  Slowly release and come back to Downward Facing Dog, and repeat on the opposite side.

4. Revolved Head to Knee Pose

This detoxifying twist stimulates the abdominal organs, including the liver and kidneys, and improves digestion.

1. Begin seated comfotably with your legs straddled wide.  Bend your right knee and place the bottom of your right foot to the inside of your left thigh.  Keep your left foot flexed.

2. Inhale and reach both arms upward. Exhale and hinge at the left hip, reaching your body toward the left side.  Bring your left arm down to the inside of your left thigh, and lower the arm toward the ground.  

3. Inhale and extend your right arm up and over your head, toward your left toes.  (Use a strap if you can't yet reach the toes).  Make sure to keep your seat grounded and that your right hip does not lift up. Twist your torso, opening the heart upward toward the sky.  

4. Hold for five breaths.  To release, untwist your torso and come back to seated position.  Repeat on the opposite side.