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Yoga Bliss Gambia: Detox for the New Year

My Magazine 2022/02
5 min
Author: Melissa Kuwahata Daswani
Wishing you all a Happy and Blessed New Year! For some of us, the past few months have been a marathon of festivities and events that perhaps our body is in need for some extra detoxifying. Through stress, erratic sleeping pattern, unhealthy drinking and eating habits, and also negative external environmental conditions can build up toxins in our body. If you do not allow your body the capacity to detox properly it can lead to various diseases and sickness through build up of damaging free radicals and hormonal imbalances.

Our bodies have its own ability to detoxify through cellular processes and organ systems that take make up the excretory system to get rid of toxins and wastes.  In order for our body to effectively detoxify and create a balanced bodily system, we must look at our eating and drinking habits along with our lifestyle including our quality of sleep, physical exercise and stress-relieving activities. Review your lifestyle and make better choices and routines for your body and mind.

In yoga, there are often detoxifying techniques for different parts of the body that can be followed with the guidance of an experienced teacher in this field.  However, there are many yoga asana that can be practised on your own that aid in detoxification by stimulating organs responsible in the elimination of wastes and toxins from our systems. 

Starting with Pranayama, breathing technique, to maximize our breath capacity and effectiveness to take up oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide.  Kapalabhati is known to increase oxygenation of the brain and heart while maintaining a low heart rate.  The movement in the diaphragm stimulates and conditions the abdominal organs, glands and parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the function of bodily systems.

Kapalbhati Pranayama - Skull Shinning Breath

Kapalabhati is a rapid nose breathing, where a normal inhalation is followed by forceful exhalation.  This requires the contraction of abdominal muscles to expel the breath with force.  If you suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma you should refrain from this pranayama.

Start by sitting in a comfortable position on the floor or sitting on a chair with your spine upright.  Inhale and exhale and bring your awareness inward.  Listen to your breath for a few rounds.  Once you start kapalabhati the forceful exhalation is produced by inward thrusting of your abdominal muscles, and inhalation happens passively as the abdominal muscles are relaxed.  Practice this slowly in the initial stages with a rapid inhalation and a slow exhalation.  Once you are comfortable with the technique you can increase the pace.


Ardha Matsyendrasana – Half Spinal Twist

Ardha Matsyendrasana is a position that improves posture by bringing suppleness to the spine, the opening of the chest which improves breath capacity.  Sit upright with the legs in front with your toes facing upwards.  Bend your right knee and bring your heel to the left hip.  Simultaneously bend your left knee and bring your left foot across your right knee.  Place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand behind, twisting the upper body to and open the chest to the left side.  Twisting all the way up the neck as to look across over your left shoulder without straining your neck.  Stay here for 12 breaths, turn back to the centre and repeat on the opposite side by swapping over the leg positions.


Malasana – Garland Pose

Malasana is a squatting position that increases blood flow and circulation in the abdominal and pelvic area and stimulative digestive organs.  Squat with your knees wide apart at either side of your

Malasana is a squatting position that increases blood flow and circulation in the abdominal and pelvic area and stimulates digestive and reproductive organs.  Squat with your knees wide apart, lowering your bottom down towards your heels.  If it is possible keep your feet flat on the floor, if not stay on the ball of your feet.  Keep your spine upright, bring the palms into prayer position and push the elbows against the inner knee.  Maintain this posture for 1 minute up to 5 minutes.


Padangusthasana – Big toe pose

Padangusthasana or Big toe pose provides compression in the abdominal area stimulating the kidneys and liver and also increases blood flow and circulation in the brain relieving headaches, insomnia, stress, and anxiety.  Stand with your feet parallel about two fists width apart.  Contract your thigh muscles to lift your knee caps.  Keeping the spine extended, bend at your hip joint to bring your torso forward towards your legs.  While keeping the legs extended as possible (or slightly bent) wrap your index and middle fingers around your big toes.  With your inhalation lift, your torso up until your arms are extended.  Elongate the spine, then as you exhale bend your elbows outward and bring your chest and forehead towards your legs.  It is better to keep the spine extended and further from the legs than to end up with a round back.  Maintain a steady breath and stay in this posture for 1 minute.  Gently come to a standing position with your inhalation. Repeat 2 more times. 


 Salabhasana – Lucust Pose

Salabhasana strengthens the entire back body and improves posture. Opening of the chest releases tension and allows for improved respiration and your mental state.  The pressure in the abdominal region also stimulates digestion.  Start by lying on your stomach with your arms beside your body and your legs extended.  Maintaining your breath evenly, lift your chest and your arms off the ground.  Rotate your shoulders back and reach your arms back as far as you can towards your feet.  Meanwhile, lift your legs also off the ground so that the weight is shifted towards your upper pelvis, stomach and lower ribs.  Hold this posture for 1 minute or more, and as you exhale release gently down relaxing the body before returning again to the posture.  Repeat 3 times.


Take your time out to practice these asana on a daily basis if you can not make it to regular yoga classes.  By the way, did you know that now there are many more classes available in the Gambia at various locations lead by different teachers?  Why not take part in regular classes and improve your health and wellbeing?  That’s a perfect gift to yourself for the year 2022!

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