Use this holiday-ready detox sequence to gently encourage the release of waste from the body and mind. By moving from energetic standing twists to restorative twists, where gravity helps decompress the spine, this sequence is a practice in surrender. Rather than creating blockages in your body, heart, and mind by clinging to those extra servings of pumpkin pie or emotions that family time may bring up (anger, resentment, or jealousy, anyone?), you can let go of pain, discomfort, and dis-ease of body, mind, and spirit. Go ahead and let this sequence move out anything holding you back and restore healthy flow in your body and mind.
Come to Child’s Pose and take a deep inhale, filling the lungs through the nose. Then deliberately release tension on the exhale as you wrap the throat around the breath and breath out of the nose. Start with 6 rounds, placing gentle pressure on the intestines as your diaphragm moves. The breath is the first step in digestive aid.
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Come onto your knees, setting them hip-width apart. Start with hands at the heart, then bring your palms down to your sacrum. Lengthen your lumbar spine and lift your heart as you gently bend back, creating space. If you want to move deeper, you can bring your hands to your heels. Observe what comes up. This pose stimulates digestion by opens up the belly. It also helps release blockage associated with not speaking your truth or being heard, which can cause us dis-ease, by opening the throat chakra. Hold here for several deep breaths. Inhale to come up as you support your lower back. Exhale, relax hands together at the heart, releasing any emotions or thoughts demanding unnecessary attention from the mind. Don’t push, force, or press; rather allow and encourage.
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From Downward-Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands. Inhale and your arms up. Add a gentle backbend. Exhale hands together at the heart and bring the left elbow over the right knee for a gentle twist. Hold here for several breaths. Then exhale and release, step your feet together, and come into a forward fold (Uttanasana). Come back to Down Dog and switch sides. This pose places gentle pressure on your liver and kidneys, encouraging detoxifying activity.
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From Uttanasana, bend your knees into Chair Pose (Utkatasana). Bring your palms together at your heart and twist to the right, shifting your weight back and down into your heels. Engaging the lower belly engaged, hold here for several breaths. Use each inhalation to lengthen your spine. Then inhale, riding the breath through the center, and exhale back to Uttanasana. Switch sides. Physically twists help with intestinal movement and toxin elimination, and mentally, they are also an opportunity to wring out anything the mind and heart don’t need.
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Widen your stance, turn your toes out a little, and drop your hips between your heels for Malasana. Bring your hands to your heart and lift your chest and gaze. Hold here for several deep breaths. This pose, which encourages downward energy, can help relieve mental and physical blockages. While you are in Malasana, check in with how you feel. It’s important to really feel any hurt, resentment, sadness—your true emotions. A good cry is the release of blockages.
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Come to your back and bend your knees, bringing them above your feet. Make sure you can graze your heels with your fingertips. On an inhalation, push through your feet to lift your hips. To add a shoulder opener, clasp your hands and press your forearms into the mat. This pose puts gentle pressure on the kidneys and adrenals to give the body a natural burst of energy and function at its highest potential. Now that you have cleansed and cleared space in the body, mind, and heart, open up to what you want to cultivate there. This is a great pose for post-detox intention setting. Hold for several deep breaths, then exhale to release your hands and lower your hips.
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Extend your legs out in front of you and then hug your right knee into your chest. With your right hand on your right knee, roll your hips and knee to the right, resting your knee on the ground if possible. Hold here for several deep breaths before switching sides. Reclined twists put gentle pressure on intestinal flow to maximize elimination.
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Savasana is the ultimate release: A death of the old to allow for a rebirth of the new. Let your legs extend back out in front of you and relax. Release your arms by your side and turn your palms up. In Savasana, we can fully surrender all that we’re holding on to—from external attachments to old habits that don’t serve us. The most important part of a detox is leaving the practice feeling freer and lighter.
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Elise Joan is a Los Angeles-based vinyasa yoga teacher, celebrity trainer, and wellness expert. She has always found purpose and expression through movement, and prior to pursuing a vocation in yoga, Joan enjoyed an established career as an actor, singer, and dancer onstage in New York City. Her primary passion is to awaken people to realize their full potential, both on and off the mat. Learn more at elisejoanfitness.com.