As you probably know, you can design a yoga class with any theme in mind. And there are numerous themes to pursue: Yoga for Back Health, Detox, Yoga for Running… Currently the theme on my mind is “Detox” and here is why:
For many of us, the last quarter of the year can be rough! There are all kinds of expectations placed upon everyone of us. Work has demands. Family and friends have other demands. With work, you may have to work extra hours because coworkers are taking vacation time, projects have suspense dates, or it is your company’s busy time (especially those in retail). And who doesn’t have a family that requires your attention. You have to be in two places at once! If only we could clone ourselves so we could attend all our children’s school holiday programs, spend Thanksgiving and or Christmas with extended family on both sides, work, cook, get chores and errands done. Oh the list goes on and on…
There isn’t enough time and your budget is tight. To survive, we grab poor and easy food choices like fast food or vending machine junk or we don’t even get to eat. Maybe you drink to much coffee. And then there is the endless supplies of holiday treats to eat. You sacrifice exercise so you can get something else done thinking you’ll go tomorrow because you have to do this one thing! I could go on and on but I know you can relate! All this is stressful to your body and mind!
So With All this Said:
To help stay healthy and less stressed, I propose having a “Detox Theme” in your yoga class or home practice and now is the perfect time to approach it. (You’ll also read/hear that Spring is the time to detox). But I think this time of the year begs for it as well. (No I’m not even going to touch on diets, just the practice).
I won’t go into extreme detail because the information is out there. I do however, want to mention just a little bit so you as an instructor can be inspired to design a “Detox” class for yourself and your clients. First, I’ll focus on the body and then the mind so you approach the “detox” as a mind-body technique.
Our Body on it’s Own:
To start, the body is naturally designed to eliminate wastes/toxins out of it. The circulatory, digestive, and lymph systems are the systems at work. Short and to the point, the circulatory system via blood delivers oxygen throughout the body and removes waste from our cells. The digestive system delivers nutrients from foods we eat and eliminates what we don’t need. And finally, the lymphatic system collects intracellular fluid from the body, transports it to our lymph nodes for a cleaning. Essentially harmful things such as bacteria are filtered out and then the lymphatic fluid is returned to the bloodstream.
People don’t breath right! Poor posture, hunching over computers, and everyday stressors don’t allow the lungs to inflate fully and diaphragm to operate at its full potential. As a result, we don’t get that full load of oxygen when we inhale or exhale as much of the carbon dioxide out. (I recently discovered that my Dad is one of those people who doesn’t benefit from a nice full breath).
- Start your class in “Mountain Pose.” Draw awareness to the pose as your clients go into it slowly. After everyone has an established “Mountain Pose,” bring awareness to the breath. A great breath practice is called the “3 Part Breath.” (YogaFit)
- Have them close their eyes and breathe in and out through their nose. To really stress the breath, maybe have them put their hands around their rib cage so they can feel the chest expansion during the inhalation.
- Inhalation: Slowly drawing breath in through the nose, filling the lungs from the bottom up. Belly will expand first, then ribs, and then the chest.
- Exhalation: Slowly releasing the air, allow the chest to come back to neutral, the ribs, and then the belly.
Pursue your class, but add twisting poses, inversions, and positive mind thoughts.
I like to tell my clients that when you pursue a twisting pose to imagine that their body is a dirty dish sponge. When you twist the sponge out, the dirty water is expelled. Then when you place it in the clean water, it can absorb once again. (Overall, the organs are gently compressed during a twist which helps push out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. After the twist, fresh blood loaded with oxygen is pumped in). Another analogy to think of is a kinked and un-kinked garden hose.
To pursue, always lengthen the spine first and ensure the abdominals are locked in before twisting. Start from your center (belly button area) and slowly, gently in a corkscrew type of fashion start to twist. Your neck should be the last to twist. To help with digestion/constipation, twist to the right first and then to the left. Your natural digestive flow is from right to left.
- Right side: Ascending Colon (food moves up) into Transverse Colon (food moves left) into Descending Colon (food moves down and out)
- Twists don’t have to be crazy! Consult great references like “Yoga Journal.”
- Standing Twists: “Twisted Chair” or “Twisted Lunge.”
- Plank-based Twists: From 3-legged Dog, bring knee to opposite elbow. Try “Rock Star” or even hover your leg off the mat.
- Seated Twists: “Marichiyasana 3”
- Lying Twists: “Supine Spinal Twist”
If you have your heart higher than your head, you’ll reverse the pull of gravity which helps with blood and lymph circulation. You don’t have to do headstand to achieve the benefits.
Standing Poses: “Forward Fold” or “Downward Facing Dog” are just fine.
***Place a few of these twisting and inversion poses in your lesson plan and hold them for 5-10 breaths as you introduce them. Then pursue a flowing Vinyasa in between to keep an internal heat within the body.***
Our minds easily wonder to the past or the future and those two states are stressful. We dwell on the past wondering what we should have/could have done differently and it can’t be changed! We worry about the future constantly and it isn’t even here yet.
- If you can stay focused on the “Present Moment,” you’ll actually find yourself less stressed. However, this takes a lot of effort and self talk on your part. (I work on this everyday especially when I find my mind wondering/worrying about the future). A book that I read of which I highly recommend is “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I found it to be an easy and short read and it will help you focus on the present. As you open your class, set the tone and remind everyone to stay present.
- Try a “Restorative Yoga Class.” These types of classed take you from one relaxed posed to another. You’ll stay in each pose for several minutes and you’ll be encouraged to “quiet your mind.”
Some Great Restorative Poses:
- Legs Up the Wall – great for swollen feet and legs in addition to soothing the mind/nervous system.
- Reclined Bound Angle – One of my favorites! Especially if you have a bolster and strap available.
- Savasana – Who doesn’t love this one.
*** Follow your school’s format and design your class with these ideas in mind. *** Do a class before Thanksgiving, after Thanksgiving, and before/after Christmas.
Encourage your clients to drink LOTS OF WATER to help flush out those toxins!
Hopefully, I’ve inspired you. I’d really love to hear some of your ideas.
Enjoy and Namaste ~ Kristen