Yoga Sequences

Stoke the Digestive Fire: A Detoxifying Sequence

With plenty of hip and abdominal work, this sequence is meant to stoke the digestive fire during an Ayurvedic cleanse.

With plenty of hip and abdominal work, this sequence by Larissa Hall Carlson, E-RYT, a yoga teacher and dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is meant to stoke the digestive fire. While practicing, keep the breath deep and rhythmic to stimulate circulation. If you want to lengthen your practice, Carlson recommends beginning with 3 to 6 rounds of your favorite variation of Sun Salutations.

Return to the 4-Day Ayurvedic Fall Cleanse

Reclining Hero Pose, variation

Reclining Hero Pose, variation, supta virasana

Supta Virasana 

Place a folded blanket at the top of a bolster. Sit between your heels with the bolster behind your tailbone. Lie back on the bolster, resting your head on the blanket. Hold for 1–3 minutes, doing a gentle 3-part breath to promote circulation: Inhale into the lower lungs, then rib cage, then upper chest. Exhale with ease.

See also Restorative Detox Practice

Dolphin Pose

Dolphin Pose

This mild inversion helps drain toxins and excess mucus from the lungs and sinuses. Come to all fours and then onto your forearms. Interlace your fingers, curl your toes under, lift your knees and hips, and straighten your legs. Hang your head, and lift your tailbone to lengthen the spine. Hold for 10–20 breaths, pausing at the end of each exhalation to mildly increase internal heat.

See also 4 Steps To Master Dolphin Pose

Child’s Pose, variation

Child’s Pose, variation, balasana

Balasana

This gentle forward bend with compression in the belly helps stimulate digestive fire and releases abdominal constriction. Come to hands and knees. Begin to press back into Balasana, pausing partway to place fists against your belly. Then fold over your thighs. Relax your belly, and fill your body with 10–20 breaths.

See also Why You Need a Restorative Yoga Practice This Winter

Garland Pose

yogi squat pose, malasana

Malasana

Working with a downward flow of energy (apana vayu), this pose allows the release of toxins and waste and helps relieve constipation. Stand up and then step your feet shoulder-width apart, with toes pointing out. Bend your knees and sink into a squat. Balance between the heels and balls of your feet. Press your palms together at heart level; press elbows against your inner knees. Hold for 10–20 deep, diaphragmatic breaths to loosen the abdomen and relax the low back.

See also A Better Way to Sit: Garland Pose

Cow Face Pose, variation

Cow Face Pose, variation, gomukhasana

Gomukhasana

This variation works the hips (the seat of vata dosha), and a twist wrings out digestive organs to help eliminate toxins. Sit down, and stack your right knee atop your left, keeping your sit bones rooted and between your feet. Bring your right hand behind you and place your left arm against your right thigh. Gently twist to the right. Hold for 10–20 breath cycles. Change the cross of your legs; repeat on the other side. Hold for 10–20 breaths.

See also Kathryn Budig’s Twist + Detox Video

Revolved Head-of-the-Knee Pose

Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose, parivrtta janu sirsana

Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana

The deeper stretching in this pose gets into the side torso, which opens up the chest and lungs to support the release of mucus and congestion. Bend your right knee and place the sole of your right foot on your inner left thigh. Sidebend to the left, reaching your right arm along your right ear. If you can, hold your left foot with both hands. Do both sides, holding for 10–20 breaths on each side.

See also Challenge Pose: Twist into Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose

Half Wind-Relieving Pose

wind removing pose, pavanamuktasana

Ardha Pavanamuktasana

Loosen up back tension and massage the digestive organs (especially the ascending and descending colon) to help move out waste (including gas and bloating—excess vata). Lie on your back. Extend your legs flat onto the floor. Bring your right leg toward your chest and interlace your fingers behind your right thigh. Relax and lengthen through both heels. Hold for 10–20 breath cycles. Repeat on the other side.

See also 8 Poses for Better Digestion


Revolved Abdomen Pose

double knee supine twist pose, supta matsyendrasana

Jathara Parivartanasana 

Jathara refers to the stomach, and this pose is all about stoking digestion and wringing out waste. Draw your knees into your chest. Extend arms to a T position. Lower legs down to the left. Gaze at the ceiling. Take 10–20 breaths, pausing at the end of each exhalation. Bring knees to center. Repeat pose on the other side.

See also Ask the Expert: Do Twists Really Wring Out Toxins?

Supported Shoulderstand, variation

Supported Shoulderstand, salamba sarvangasana

Salamba Sarvangasana 

Lie on your back. Lift your hips, and place a block at its medium height under your sacrum. Lift your legs to 90 degrees, and evenly press up through your feet, allowing tension to drain out of the legs. Hold for 10–20 breaths.

See also How to Prep for (and Master) Shoulderstand Pose

Fish Pose, supported variation

supported corpse pose, savasana

Matsyasana 

With all the props, this pose grounds and soothes, and also offers gentle heart and chest opening for deep breathing and circulation to help remove toxins. Sit up, and place a bolster under your knees. Lie back over a blanket roll placed below your shoulder blades. Drape a folded blanket on your thighs and an eye pillow over your eyes. Hold for 10–20 breaths, or longer.

See also 7 Restorative Poses to Stay Grounded

Corpse Pose, 
supported variation

Corpse Pose, 
supported variation, svasana

Savasana

Rest is key to proper digestion, and here it is. Place a bolster behind you, with a folded blanket on the top end. Lie back with your head on the blanket. Rest a second blanket over your thighs (to settle vata). Cover your eyes. Let your elbows and hands rest on the floor. Breathe gently. Hold for 5–20 minutes.

See also Your Most Restful Savasana Yet

Larissa Hall Carlson, E-RYT, is the dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. Model Alia Sebben is the founder of Amana Yoga Boulder studio in Colorado.