After all the festive food and drink there is no better time to think of cleansing your body from the inside to make you feel great and help you to ward off those winter virus’s which are prone to manifest when your immune system is low. So doing some simple postures to help with massaging your internal organs especially the liver and kidneys and to work on compression and extending the spine to help with lymph drainage together with some healthy eating will give you a great start to the New Year.
Always check with a medical practitioner if this is the first time you have exercised, if you have any health issues or concerns before taking part in this or any other form of activity.
Activate your body before starting any postures
I suggest before you start that you warm up the muscles, limber up the joints and get your circulation going, by shaking the joints, then the whole body and having a dance around with some more elaborate movements. Once your heart rate has started to raise a little stand with your feet hip distance apart with your arms loose by your sides, hips in neutral, lengthen through the spine with your chin parallel to the floor and engage your lower core muscles on the out breath. Close your eyes or lower your gaze and take some long deep breaths to lower your heart rate and relax your mind and body with every long slow outbreath.
These movements can be done sitting or standing:
Keep your shoulders still and facing forwards, jute your chin forwards, bring the chin down towards your chest, then pull back to make a double chin and repeat twice more.
Keep your chin parallel to the floor and shoulders facing front. Do not move your shoulders and keep them relaxed; simply turn the head to the right, breath and relax and try turning a little more for a few seconds, bring the head back to the centre and repeat on the other side.
Then with your head central and your shoulders face forwards take your ear to one shoulder and hold for a few seconds, bring the head to centre and repeat on the other side.
When completed all the movements above you may like to swing your head gently from side to side and roll the shoulders a few times.
Twist can be done very simply by sitting up straight on the floor or on a chair with the opposite hand on your knee and twist to look over the shoulder.
Sit or stand and engage the lower core muscles on the out breath. Take your right hand palm face up just under your tummy and the left hand just above the brow palm face down, take a big breath and lengthen in the spine before leaning over to the right. Breathe in the stretch and hold for a few seconds, re-engage the core before coming upright and repeat on the other side. Do this stretch 3 times on each side. If you feel you need support then sit on the floor or chair and place you hand on the seat or floor for support.
Forward and Backwards Bends
Keeping your feet hip distance and engage your core on the outbreath. Lengthen through the spine, lift the sternum and keep the chin parallel to the floor. Support your lower back with your hands just under your waist and lift the sternum, then hinge from the hips keeping the back straight and take your body forwards so that your back is parallel to the floor (support yourself by bringing your hands on your thighs if needed). Your legs should be straight but the joints should not be locked.
To come out of the stretch, bring the backs of your hands together, bend your knees slightly, re-engage the core, tuck under the tail bone and segmentally uncurl the spine until you are upright.
Repeat this process, but each time try to bring your chest closer to your thighs.
You can bend further back in the stretch by bending the knees and pushing the thighs forwards, however take care if you have any back issues (sometimes flexing backwards can help with some back problems however they can also irritate depending on the condition you have, so check with your medical practitioner first.
Bend your knees and segmentally roll through the spine from the base to come up out of the stretch, with the backs of the hands together and reach up and open with the arms taking in a big breath and repeat the process a few times.
If you are unable to stand then sit on a chair or the floor.
Lie flat on your tummy with the legs and buttocks relaxed and arms our stretched on the floor above your head. Engage your core muscles on the out breath and on the in breath lift the head and shoulders off the floor, making sure you keep your spine aligned. Push your hands against the floor and pull towards you. (Breathe in the stretch).
Now bring your hands one palm width in towards you and repeat this time lifting the shoulders a little higher.
Then if you are able, bring your hands so that your thumbs are in line with your eyes, palms flat and as you breathe in lift the head shoulders and chest and bring your elbows under your shoulders and support your upper body by placing your forearms on the floor, look forwards and gently release the neck by looking from side to side a couple of times. Make sure that your buttocks and legs are relaxed.
On all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips, breathe in and engage the core muscles on the outbreath. Hook under your toes and breathe in again this time lifting your knees towards your chest and then lift your hips as high as possible. Take your heels down to the floor and relax your head in between your arms and breathe in the stretch. (If you have weak wrists you can do this stretch with your forearms on the floor or forearms on a chair).
To come out of the stretch, bend your knees and lower yourself down to the floor. Then take your weight back so that your buttocks rest on your heels and stretch your arms forwards whilst looking back at your knees.
No yoga practice is complete without a relaxation. Lye in corpse pose put on some soft music and tense and release each body part in turn. Then simply tune into your breathing letting go of any tension on every outbreath. Allow your body to sink further and further into the floor.
Come out of relaxation slowly by wriggling your fingers and toes, having a good stretch from fingers to toes and bring the knees into the chest, rocking gently from side to side to relieve the back of any tension. Roll over into a foetal position for a few minutes before coming up into a seated position.Neck TwistsThese movements can be done sitting or standing:Keep your shoulders still and facing forwards, jute your chin forwards, bring the chin down towards your chest, then pull back to make a double chin and repeat twice more.