Most people know that the liver is in charge of filtering toxins out of the body but are unaware of just how many other functions it performs. It’s responsible for making bile to break down fatty acids, converting sugar into glycogen for muscle energy and synthesizing proteins and cholesterol. Contrary to popular belief the liver is not a storage organ for toxins but it is a storage organ for many important nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron.
This large and important organ is nestled in the upper right quadrant of your abdominal cavity just below the diaphragm. Because of its location it is easily affected by the action of breathing. To feel your liver try this exercise: Sit on the edge of your chair, raise your hands over your head and interlock your fingers, lean slightly to the left, and take a deep breath. On your exhale make a “shhhhh” sound with your breath and notice the gentle tug this gives your liver.
In your yoga practice there are a variety of ways to work with the liver. Use twists, forward bends and deep breathing to squeeze and massage the blood filled organ. These actions act as a natural pump which irrigates the liver with new blood and help it to perform its many functions. Since the liver is fascially connected to other organs, the ribcage and the diaphragm it is important to open and stretch the chest cavity to avoid restricted movement and blood flow. One way to encourage this opening is through backbends and twists.