As we approach Ramadan, it’s important to reflect on fasting as an age-old concept practised for religious purposes and physical purification. In yoga, fasting is recommended as tapasya, austerity, for physical, mental and spiritual balance and renewal.
Studies show that fasting can lower blood pressure, normalise cardiovascular function, and support weight loss. Fasting can also help the body to get rid of old or damaged cells, and to give the digestive system much-needed rest to improve metabolism and slow down ageing.
Yoga intensifies the benefits of fasting, as both are purification practices. Meditations can also take people to a deeper level while fasting. Here are some detoxifying yoga poses to practice while fasting. Start with yogic breathing, a few rounds of sun salutation and end with mindful meditation.
I would recommend practising yoga later in the day, an hour before breaking the fast.
REVOLVED CHAIR POSE
This asana tones the internal organs as well as stretches the spine and opens the shoulders.
Stand in Mountain Pose. Feet together with your big toes touching or feet hip-distance apart. On inhale, raise your arms overhead, perpendicular to the floor. Exhale as you bend knees, shifting your hips back and down into Chair Pose. Bring your palms together in prayer position at your chest. Inhale to reach up through the crown of your head. On an exhalation, twist your torso to the right. Hook your left elbow outside your right thigh. Keep your hips square and your knees in line. Deepen the twist with each exhale. Revolve your chest to a greater degree. Hold for 5 breaths then exhale and unwind. Switch sides.
This pose helps boost circulation and flush out the toxins from the bloodstream and lymphatic system. It also stretched the ankles, calves, hips, shoulders and upper back.
From Chair Pose, place your left thigh on top of your right. Wrap the left foot behind your right ankle. Extend your arms out to the sides and cross right elbow over the left, either press the backs of the hands together or bring your palms to touch. Lift the spine long and rise through the crown of you head while maintaining a bend in the knees. Lift the hands so the elbows are in line with the shoulders. Hold for 20 seconds to 1 minute. Exhale, unwind and repeat on the other side.
SEATED SPINAL TWIST
Stimulates digestions. Cleanses and activates internal organs while stretches and lengthens spine
Sit with your legs extended forward. On inhale, pull right knee in to your chest. Exhale as you cross your right foot over your left knee and plant it on the floor, so your outer right ankle is next to your left knee. Place your right arm behind you, your palm on the floor. Inhale as you raise your left hand up and lengthen your spine. As you exhale, begin to twist your torso towards the right, crossing your left elbow over your outer right thigh to deepen the twist. Gaze over your right shoulder and breathe deeply. Hold for 20 seconds to 1 minute and repeat on the other side.
It increases your energy levels and stimulates the thyroid and pituitary as well as stretches the chest, lungs, arms, leg, abdomen and spine.
Lie down on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the mat and hip distance apart. Heels close to your glutes. Bring your hands overhead, bend your elbows, palms next to your ears, fingers pointing toward your shoulders. From here press into your hands and feet, lift your hips off the mat and gently lift onto the crown of your head. When you’re ready to progress fully into wheel pose, straighten your arms while pushing down with your feet. Relax you neck. Hold the pose for 20 seconds up to 1 minute. Keep your knees hip-width apart. To exit the pose, tuck your chin toward your chest, bend your arms and legs, and lower down to your mat.
This pose helps improve circulation and digestion. Removes toxins from your circulatory and lymphatic system by reversing the blood flow.
Start by lying on the mat. Bend the knees and place the feet on the floor as close to the buttocks as possible. Engage your core. On an exhale, lift the legs up overhead into Plow pose. Bring the bent knees towards the head. To support the body, place the hands on the lower back with bent elbows. Inhale and lift the feet towards the ceiling, bringing the legs in line with the rest of the body. Keep pressing your belly toward the spine. Gaze towards your toes and avoid moving your head. Press the shoulder blades down into the ground, lifting your heart closer towards the chin.
To exit the pose, exhale as you lower to Plow. Roll the spine onto the floor gently and gradually, one vertebra at a time.
— Nerry Toledo is a Dubai-based yoga instructor. She conducts regular give-what-you-can community classes with the goal of making yoga more accessible for everyone. For schedules and locations, go to www.nerryfit.com