Monday, September 19, 2011

Detoxifying Yoga Workout

What if I told you that you already have a perfect body? Look in the mirror: It's within you. I have given health and fitness advice to women with some of the best bodies in Hollywood, including Jennifer Aniston and Kate Beckinsale, and you are equipped with the exact same components of your favorite stars: a body, heart, mind and spirit. The key to getting the body you want is aligning these components. A great place to start is by cleansing and detoxifying. Follow my step-by-step guide below, and you'll begin your journey to having the body you deserve.

1. Detoxify the mind. First, I recommend you lose toxic self-talk. Let's perfect a new perspective: "Even if nothing changed, I have a perfect body." In fact, your body's natural state is health, and its job is to constantly eliminate what is no longer necessary. I should know: Having spent a lot of my life being hypercritical, forcing my body and depriving myself, I had actually convinced myself that this was motivation. It turns out that when I remove that slave-driving voice and replace it with healthy choices, my body falls into place effortlessly, and I actually begin to develop the loving relationship with myself that I crave. My food cravings subside because I am getting the right kind of nurture, and it isn't through ice cream.

Each morning, start the day with a short meditation. This literally means five minutes of mindful breathing -- simply inhale and exhale. While doing this, set an intention. "I love my body exactly the way it is today" or "I am taking care of myself today."

2. Notice your breath. The breath is the pathway from the mind to the body, and when you breathe, you are going to feel more. Breathing brings us into the present. Use this during your meditation or come back to this at the beginning of your practice or when you sit down to eat. During exercise, some emotions may come up, and they are all good, because that is your fuel. And that is what you have been stuffing down with those desserts and beverages. There is no difference between negative and positive emotions; they are simply energy for you to use. The breath will eliminate what is no longer needed, which is alchemy for transforming your anger, grief or even joy into pure energy. Use it as you like. 

3. Move your body. The mind/body union can happen during any physical activity -- not just yoga. But try to bring yoga into your walk, run, cycle or elliptical routine by bringing intention and awareness of your body and breathing into all your exercise. Today is not the one time you are going to exercise. It is a routine you create because your body craves it. Anything you care for -- kids, pets, plants -- they all need consistency. Follow my detoxifying routine below, and you'll start seeing big changes!


Warm up with 20 to 30 minutes of your favorite cardio (walking, cycling, elliptical training and dancing are good examples).

2. Set an intention. Consider something like this: "I am letting go of what is no longer serving me" or "I am loving my already perfect body."

3. Follow this yoga routine. These are must-do poses for detoxification. Twists literally wring out the toxins from the body, while balance poses connect you with your core, and abdominal work targets and activates the midsection. 

Come to your hands and feet, with your hands shoulder distance apart and your feet about hips width apart.
Press your heels down as you lift your hips up (see image above left).
Shift your body weight forward toward your hands as you draw your right knee in toward your forehead (see image above right).
Use your abs to hold. 


Step your right foot forward between your hands and come up onto the toe of your left foot as you press your heel back.
Try to straighten the left leg.
Bring your left hand to the floor on the inside of your right foot.
Twist your right arm up toward the ceiling and look up (see image above).
Make sure your arm is extending out from the base of your spine through the crown of your head. 


Bring your right hand back down to the floor and step your right foot back to meet the left foot, staying up on your toes (see top image).
Hold here in a high push-up position for three to five breaths.
Move into 
FOREARM PLANK (middle image).
Stay on your toes and slowly come down onto your forearms. This is where you will really need to stay connected to your core to keep your back straight.
While here, lift your right foot off the floor just a couple of inches and hold using your abdominal strength (bottom image).
Repeat on the left side.
Press back up into 
PLANK POSE, then back to DOWN DOG.


From DOWN DOG, step your right foot through between your hands.
Press gently off of the back leg and shift forward to balance on your right leg (image above left).
Extend your arms out to the sides or back alongside your body. Balance here (image above right).
Without putting your right foot on the floor, bring your hands to your hips, slowly hinge back up to standing and extend your right leg straight out in front of you. 


With your feet together, bend both knees and sit your hips back into an imaginary chair.
Extend your arms up toward the ceiling, tuck your tailbone slightly and use your core to lift your body away from the thighs (image above left).
Bring your palms to a prayer position and hook the left elbow on the right knee.
Press your palms together.
Look up toward the ceiling (see image above right). 


Balance on your sit bones and extend your legs upward and your arms out in front of you, parallel to the floor.
If it is too challenging to keep your legs straight or if you have a lower back issue, you can bend the knees (see image above). 


From boat, cross your arms over your chest and slowly lower down, using your abdominal strength (see top image).
Hover with your feet and shoulders a couple of inches away from the floor.
Then extend your arms and use your core to bring you back up to boat (see bottom image). 


Bend your left knee on the floor in front of you.
Cross your right leg over to bring your right foot to the outside of the left knee.
Hook your left elbow on the outside of the right knee and press your right hand into the floor near the base of your spine (see image above).
Inhale as you extend your spine up, then exhale as you twist back. 


Lying down on the floor, extend your arms out to the sides and bring your right foot on top of the left thigh.
Slowly lower the right knee toward the left and look over your right shoulder. Relax into this twist (see image above).


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