The Asana Clinic: Week Two

Detox with Ardha Matsyendrasana

Ardha Matsyendrasaa

The festivities are well and truly over and we are now deep in the throngs of over indulgence hangovers and generally feeling a bit partied-out! Whilst we frantically forge action plans to pay penance to the gluttony of the holiday Season (don’t even show me another chocolate) we can get a little carried away in penning plans of deprivation and extremities that are more like a punishment than a plan to remedy all of that partying! When we swing from one extreme to the other, our bodies become really rather confused and will very often go in to that survival mode that we hear about all too often: fight or flight. This is a natural response to sudden environmental changes that the body’s innermost workings deem to be a threat. This applies to our diet as well – the body inherently thinks that there is an environmental reason for your sudden change to sustaining it. So, what can we do to support the post-party detoxification without swinging the provision pendulum from Cheese and wine to celery sticks and apple cider vinegar shots? You guessed it – through our veritable yoga practice.

Every day we go through a natural detoxification process – in theory this completely negates the need for a food related detoxification or “cleanse” – our bodies are already doing this elimination of toxins via the liver and the excretory system (which includes perspiration and urination). When we commit ourselves to a post-party detoxification and cleanses we are seeking ways to support the body and enhance its inherent ability to evacuate substances; leaving us feeling purified and downright angelic!

In yoga, we support this process in many ways and one commonly known way is through twists – we do so much contorting and standing on our heads that we often forget about the humble twist and it’s anatomically superior benefits. This week, as we all start to re-assess our diets for the New Year, we look at supporting the body’s natural cleanse system with my all-time favourite asana: Ardha Matsyendrasana.

Sanskrit Name: Ardha Matsyendrasana
Translation: Half Lord of the Fishes (aka Seated Spinal Twist)

Preparatory Poses:

Before attempting any twisting pose, it is advisable to warm up properly – I usually leave seated twists until the latter part of my classes; by this time the body is warm and has built up enough energy to justify the need for elimination. If you are not attending a class and wish to run through a few asana, prior to attempting this pose, I would recommend gentle asana such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold) and Cat-Cow, to mobilise the spine; as well as a few poses to open the hips: Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) is ideal, and a couple of rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) can help to focus the mind as the breath is linked with physical movement.