Contributing writer for Wake Up World
Forget the detox pills, fasts and other painful cleansing techniques – instead, take a cue from the yogis of India and look to the breath. Using yogic breathing techniques, we can effortlessly detoxify, burn fat and increase metabolism. With the basic act of bringing in more oxygen, vitamins and minerals are more easily absorbed, white blood cells multiply and the lymphatic system is enhanced. Through the exhale toxins are removed from the bloodstream, which revitalizes the organs and clarifies the intellect. Techniques range from a few deep breaths before a meal to more complex practices. Either way, by using this free detoxification method daily, we can easily (and economically) cleanse the body and mind.
The time-honored art of breathing
Yogis of long ago recognized the merit in calming, cleansing and balancing the body and mind with the breath. Developed over 5,000 years ago, pranayama (Sanskrit for ‘vital energy’ and ‘extend’) is an integral aspect of yogic practice. Below are several examples of how to use the breath to keep the system healthy on all levels.
Before each meal, take three deep breathes. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Although seemingly basic, this technique sharpens the senses of smell, taste and texture while promoting clarity. When we are clear and focused during our meals, digestion is improved and over-consumption minimized. The end result: efficiency of digestion and weight loss.
Lie flat on your back with knees bent together, bringing the feet close into the buttocks. Place hands on both sides of the naval region. Breath in a slow, deep rhythmic manner for 20 repetitions. Since the naval region is dense with nerves, relaxing this area calms emotions, strengthens the nervous system and fortifies the immune system – ultimately aiding in the removal of unnecessary thoughts and toxins from the body.
Bhastrika (Breath of Fire)
This technique helps to slim and tone the belly, boost metabolism and detoxify the body. Sit cross-legged on the floor and place both hands on the lower abdomen. Take a deep breath then begin to ‘pump’ the breath rapidly through the nose, expanding and contracting the entire belly. For visual instructions, see here.
Ujjayi (Victorious Breath)
Sitting in a comfortable position, inhale through the nose and lift the chest. Hold for two seconds. While exhaling through the nose, guide the breath to the back of the throat, creating a ocean wave like sound (sometimes referred to as the ‘Darth Vader breath’). When practiced properly, ujjayi pranayama should energize and relax. It also oxygenates the blood, builds internal body heat and removes toxins.
A note of caution: Pranayama is not recommended for those with high blood pressure.
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