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Looking for a great summer detox? There’s no need to deprive yourself with a strict juice cleanse or a cabbage diet. The following 10 yoga poses will help your digestion, boost strength and flexibility, and leave you feeling your best. Take them one at a time or practice the entire sequence as a flow to feel lighter and happier this season.
10 Detoxifying Yoga Poses for a Summer ‘Cleanse’
How-to: From Tadasana, bend your knees and drop your seat until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground. Spread your toes and dig into your heels for grounding. Bring your hands to heart center and widen your elbows to lengthen your side body in Chair Pose. Twist from the navel to the right and hook your left elbow onto your thigh or knee (it’s OK if your elbow doesn’t reach the leg—just twist as much as you can). As you inhale, lengthen your spine, and as you exhale, increase the twist. Stay for 5 breaths. Repeat on left side.
Why we love it: Twisted Chair strengthens the low back, increases flexibility, and tones the internal organs, especially the digestive system. Energetically, it helps you wring out what you don’t need.
Twisted Prayer Lunge
How-to: From Downward-Facing Dog, step your right foot forward between your hands, reach your arms up toward the sky into High Lunge, Crescent Variation. Bring your hands to heart center, elbows wide. Twist from the navel to the right and hook your left elbow onto your thigh or knee. If your elbow doesn’t reach, don’t worry. The inhales help you lengthen and the exhales help you twist more. Stay for 5 breaths. Repeat on the left side.
Why we love it: Twisted Prayer Lunge strengthens your low back, increases flexibility, improves your posture, and releases tension in the neck and shoulders. It also releases toxic anxiety and stray thoughts, and makes lots of room for more positive energy.
See also Kathryn Budig’s Twist + Detox Video
3. Warrior II
How-to: From Downward-Facing Dog, step your right foot forward between your hands. Spin your left heel down with the edge of your left foot parallel to the back edge of your mat. Windmill your arms up, left arm back and right arm forward. Make sure your feet are wide with ankles under wrists. Bend your right knee over your right ankle while the left leg stays straight. Using the strength of your legs, drop your hips and lift your pelvic floor. Make sure your shoulders are stacked over your hips. Engage your biceps and shoot energy out of your fingertips. Gaze over your right middle finger. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat Warrior II on the left side.
Why we love it: Warrior II builds physical and mental stamina while clearing and focusing the mind. It also tones the legs, strengthens the arms, opens the hips, and releases emotions.
How-to:From Warrior II, bend the left knee deeply until you’re almost sitting on your left heel. You do not have to go that deep if you feel too much sensation or pulling in the inner thighs or right hamstring. Try to keep the left heel rooted to the mat. Your right leg stays long and straight with the toes pointed upward. The spine will want to round, so lengthen through your back as much as you can. Hands can be at heart center, or you can take a bind. Extend the left arm in front of the left shin, hand on the mat. Reach the right arm up and straight to the right. Wrap the left arm behind the back and the right hand grabs your wrist, fingers, or a strap. Gaze over the right shoulder if it’s OK for your neck. Stay for 5 breaths in Skandasana. Put both hands on the ground to come back up, and repeat from Warrior II on the other side.
Why we love it: This deep side lunge releases tension in the hips while strengthening the core and lengthening the hamstrings. It also encourages flexibility in the body and mind.
5. Half Moon
How-to: From Warrior II with the right foot forward, put your left hand on your hip. Look down at your right foot and bend your right knee. Lift the left leg into the air with the heel in line with the hip. Place your right hand under your right shoulder at 1 o’clock on a block or on the floor. Flex the left foot and bring the left toes forward so you can see them with your right eye. Stack the left hip on the right hip. Keep the left hand on your hip or reach it up to the sky. Fill your lungs with breath and spin the ribs toward the ceiling for Half Moon. Hold for 5 breaths. To get out, hover the right hand, bend the right knee and slowly bring the left foot back down to your mat. Repeat on the left from Warrior II with the left foot forward.
Why we love it: This pose is challenging for balance, strengthens the legs and the core, and helps you focus the mind.
6. Lord of the Dance
How-to: From Tadasana, place your right hand on your hip. Bend your left knee, and bring the heel to the seat. With your left hand, grab the outside (easier) or inside (more challenging) of your left foot. Reach your right arm high to the sky. Touch your right forefinger to your thumb. Start to kick the left foot into the left hand and press the hand into the foot. Arch the back (think Cow Pose) and tip forward, chest parallel to the mat. Try to keep the left hip point tilted toward the ground to square the hips. Slide your shoulders down your back and lift your heart. Gaze at a point on the floor to balance in Lord of the Dance. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Why we love it: Improves your balance, increases core strength, and opens your heart. If you fall, no problem. You just practice getting right back up.
7. Crow Pose
How-to: Take Garland Pose by bringing your feet mat-width apart and sinking your hips toward the floor as much as possible. With your knees bent, place your hands under your shoulders and lift your seat in the air. Bend your elbows to about 90 degrees. Slide your right knee into your right tricep (as close to the armpit as you can get it) and your left knee into your left tricep. Lean forward placing your weight into your hands for Crow Pose. Gaze forward beyond your fingertips. Remember, this one takes practice. Take a break and repeat the pose 3 times for 5 breaths each.
Why we love it: Builds arm strength and boosts confidence. You may not catch Crow the first time you try, but it shows you that if you keep trying, you will reap the benefits. The more you work on this pose, the more you will sweat!
See also How Yogis Squat: Malasana
8. Donkey Kicks
How-to: From Downward-Facing Dog, press into your fingertips and knuckles, wrap your triceps back, and let your heart melt between your thumbs. Walk your feet in about 2 to 3 inches and bring your big toes to touch. Bend your knees and tilt your tailbone upward. Kick your heels to your seat. You may only get your feet off the ground one inch, or you may get your heels to your seat and press into a Handstand. Do 5 Donkey Kicks, take Child’s Pose, then do 5 more Donkey Kicks. Remember to breathe! Take a Child’s Pose at the end for at least 5 breaths.
Why we love it: Donkey Kicks increase heart rate (working up a sweat) while building upper body strength. Learning to bear weight on your hands helps you realize how strong you really are and how amazing your body is.
9. Camel Pose
How-to:Fold your mat over so you have two layers under your knees, then stand on your knees. Make sure the knees are right below the hips. Tuck your toes, which lifts your heels (easier) or point your toes and lower your heels (more challenging). Bring your hands to heart center. Lower the shoulders away from the ears and lift your heart. Reach the right hand to the right heel and the left hand to the left heel. Keep the hips over the knees. Keep lifting the heart. Try to bring your ears back to open your throat in Camel Pose. Stay for 5 breaths. Rise up carefully, and sit on your heels for 5 breaths. Repeat Camel one more time and sit on your heels afterward.
Why we love it: Camel strengthens the back of the body while opening the heart and throat. When your heart is open, you can accept what comes your way more easily, and increase the love in your life. Opening the throat helps stretch the neck and encourages you to speak your truth.
See also 9 Surprising SUP Yoga Poses
10. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
How-to: Sit down on your mat and bring your seat as close to the wall as you can (pose shown here without a wall). Swing your legs up the wall and lie down on your back. Extend your arms down your sides with the palms face up or place one hand on your heart and one on your belly. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out slowly in Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose. Stay for 10 minutes, more if you can, or 5 minutes if that’s all you have.
Why we love it: Legs-Up-the-Wall lowers your heart rate and encourages your body to relax. When you reverse blood flow, you release tension and feel more calm and grounded.
About Our Writer
Kristen Kemp, E-RYT 500, teaches 10 yoga classes a week to Type A adults who like it hot, wiggly kids who need to move and meditate, and even women prisoners who hope to relieve stress and anxiety. She’s been a longtime writer for Scholastic, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, The New York Post, and many more. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, and guinea pigs.