The Romans had detox in mind when they added February to their calendar in about 700 BCE. The Latin februum means “purification.” February is named after the Roman purification ritual that took place each year on February 15.
The skin is the body’s largest eliminative organ, and sweating naturally detoxifies your tissues. But hatha yoga’s methods are less about perspiration than about restoration.
Over the millennia, hatha yoga has developed many purification tools, including breathing practices and neti nasal washing. Paired with certain asanas these methods are powerful ways of releasing toxins.
One of yoga’s most powerful purifying poses that combats the respiratory distress of breathing noxious air is Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, also known as Bridge Pose.
Bridge Pose soaks the lymph glands in the neck and throat with blood. It also suppresses the “fight or flight” (sympathetic) side of your autonomic nervous system, restoring energy and supporting healing.
(When your head is below your heart and your neck is flexed, the “baro reflex” is activated. This sets off a chain of events that suppresses the sympathetic nervous system.)
Weave Bridge Pose into your regular yoga practice, or practice it on its own. Practice it for purification, restoration of energy, or because it feels good. Its heart-expanding properties will prepare you for another of February’s iconic days.
—Charlotte Bell (author of Yoga for Meditators and Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life)
Instructions on how to do Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha).
View the full “Love Your Lungs” article here.