Toxins come in many forms from harsh and deadly organisms such as snake venom, to man-made environmental agents like asbestos. While some toxins are fatal, others simply serve to cause mild annoyances like headaches, nausea or irritability.
To detox with yoga is to assist our bodies in the removal of non-life-threatening toxins such as those absorbed from eating chemical laden junk food, drinking alcohol or being exposed to smog and other types of air pollution. From the sounds of this, you may realize toxins are an often-unavoidable part of life, but thankfully our bodies are equipped to deal with them, and yoga can help.
The liver is the main organ responsible for filtering the blood for the processing and removal of toxins. When your liver is healthy, toxins are more readily released from your body in the form of sweat, urine and excrement, through the liver’s metabolic functions.
Some yoga poses massage and stimulate the liver by flushing it with fresh blood and oxygen, in an effort to support its task as the body’s housekeeper. The following is an explanation of how and why certain poses help liver function.
All twisting poses have an effect on the liver purely because of the liver’s anatomical position in relationship to the twisting motion. When the ribcage twists, a gentle force is exerted on the organs near it, thus creating a squeezing action to release stagnation and invite in fresh, nutrient laden blood through these organs. Since the liver is located under the lower ribs on the right side, intentional and accurate twisting of the ribs has a direct influence.
In addition to twisting poses, seated or standing forward bends will massage the liver. When the ribcage comes forward over the legs, the space around the liver is decreased, thus causing it to be pushed and kneaded in a way. Just as it’s important to drink a lot of water after getting a massage to flush the toxins, it is equally crucial to do so after yoga for detoxification.
In both twisting and forward bending poses, the key factor in stimulating and massaging toxins out of the liver is deep breathing. Once again, it’s due to the liver’s positioning in relationship to the diaphragm, the primary muscle of inspiration. When we take a deep breath in, the diaphragm descends, applying gentle pressure on the liver. Couple this with twisting and bending poses and we have a very safe and effective combination of factors that assist in healthy liver function.