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The Yoga of Cleansing & Four Tips for Increased Vitality
Cleansing has become almost a household word these days. There are many reported and researched health benefits that come from cleansing such as improved digestion, reduced inflammation, dislodging environmental toxins and losing weight.
However, I believe there are even more benefits to be gained from doing a cleanse.
Cleansing gives us access to expanded mental clarity and a renewed sense of inner freedom. We all have the tendency to eat more from our emotions and habits than our bellies. When we set aside our ingrained eating patterns, we become more conscious of our unconscious habits.
Expanding awareness is a cornerstone of yoga practice, and there are many other yogic principles that we can exercise when doing a cleanse.
The Sanskrit word “tapas ” means “to burn” and refers to austerities or discipline. By restraining our lower desires and urges, we build a kind of creative friction that gives insight, inspiration, builds character and supports spiritual growth. Tapas has less to do with deprivation and more to do with creating boundaries that bring forth inner radiance.
Another major theme in yoga is “soucha” or “purity”. Given adequate support your body naturally wants to return to an optional state of cleanliness and efficiency.
By releasing the accumulated toxic load of ongoing unconscious eating habits we open the gateway for a deeper state of health and long forgotten purity. It’s like letting go of a “heavy load” we had no idea we were carrying for so long.
Doing a cleanse is less of an exercise in deprivation as it is an opportunity to revitalize your mind, strengthen your will and do a deep internal “cleanse”. We can access the bodies deep healing capacities by simple removing the obstacles to cure, by eliminating less than wholesome foods and introducing foods that are more conducive to vitality.
Here are four tips to get you started with a fall time cleanse:
1. Drink hot lemon water in the morning
Get your day started with a refreshing and vitalizing glass of hot lemon water. It is amazing how this simple beverage will pick you up. It helps alkalize your system, and cleanse your liver.
What’s more, hot lemon water will stimulate your bowels and get things moving. Many people do not drink enough water in general and making a ritual of drinking this beverage early in the morning is a great reminder of how amazing water is for your health!
2. Eat at least 2 cups of vegetables a day plus salads
In my naturopathic doctoring practice, many people tell me that they have an aversion to eating vegetables. They also come to see me with significant health issues, many of which can be greatly offset with dietary changes -such as eating more vegetables.
While your tongue may disagree, your body loves vegetables and rings with satisfaction once fed what it needs. Eating a sufficient amount of vegetables will also off-set cravings for foods that are far less nutritious or even detrimental to one’s health.
3. Include a little protein with each meal
Often times sugar-cravings are rooted in not eating a sufficient amount of protein. If you find yourself feeling hostage to sugary foods there is a good chance you are in need of more protein. Eating enough protein will help you balance your blood sugar and give you a more even-quality of energy throughout the day. Getting enough protein also helps you eat less refined carbohydrates.
4. Try fasting one day a week
Many cultures and spiritual traditions throughout the world recognize the value of fasting as a way to cleanse the body, revitalize the spirit and develop humility and gratitude. Fasting is also a great way to give your digestive system a much needed rest. Your body will naturally go to work cleaning house with the energy it would otherwise expend digesting food.
Generating the necessary discipline to fast also rubs off in other areas of your life. It gives you the inner strength to address other issues that you may have been avoiding, freeing up energy that could be spent more productively.
Note: You can still have juices, broths, teas and water while performing a weekly fast.
Try on these simple tips and see what they do for your health and your yoga practice. If you are ready to take it to the next level, consider getting some outside support and supplementation by participating in a 10-day cleanse group I will be facilitating. Cleansers of all levels are welcome!