I recently completed an 8 day yoga + ayurveda detox. My body needed it, and autumn felt like the perfect time. In truth, I've never done a detox, so I knew it would be a challenge.
I don't agree much with those "celebrity" liquid cleanses. I like food, and those cleanses end up doing more harm than good for your body anyway. Doing a cleanse is more then just drinking some magic tea, changing the foods you eat, or cutting out coffee and alcohol. I wanted to do this the right way, so I combined one of the programs from My Yoga Online/ Gaiam TV with Ayurvedic practices. The two go hand in hand really, so I did a detox that would work for me. I took time off work to take this seriously-- to do less, to honour my body, and just focus on rest and rejuvenation in order to gain the full benefits of this process.
I won't go into the details of what I ate everyday, but I do want to highlight something that I enjoyed most about the process-- the part I looked forward to everyday… Morning Rituals.
These are things that should be incorporated into our lives as often as possible, and not just during a detox. In Ayurveda, Dinacharya are daily routines. They cleanse and nourish the body, prevent buildup of toxins, and help keep the senses and mind clear. By repeating these every morning, I gained a feeling of stability and felt totally refreshed.
It definitely made me enjoy the detoxification process a lot more. Instead of focusing on foods that I could not eat, I thought treated these rituals as gifts to my body and mind. You should give it a try. Incorporate them slowly, so you don't overwhelm yourself. Your body and mind will love you for it.
WAKE UP + SACRED SILENCE
Wake up before the sun rises when there are loving qualities in nature that bring peace of mind and freshness to the senses. Instead of rolling out of bed right away, take a moment or two and create a mental space, think about what you're grateful for, and make a point to be happy. Wiggle your fingers and toes, take a few deep breaths and stretch. It will help set the tone for the day, and clean your aura.
DRINK A GLASS OF WARM WATER + LEMON
My favourite part of the morning is typically my first cup of fresh brewed coffee. I know caffeine is bad for me, but I didn't know it was draining energy from my kidneys. Instead, drink a big glass of warm water, and add some lemon if you choose. This washes the gastrointestinal track and flushes the kidneys. Prior to this detox, I found that I was starting to get short dizzy spells in the morning. Once I stopped drinking coffee in the morning, I felt better right away. I'm surprised I didn't start getting headaches from caffeine withdrawal. I was nourishing my body with other things, which I guess helped along the way.
BODY BLISS + CLEANSING YOUR SENSES
Splash water on your face, wash your eyes, brush your teeth, and scrape your tongue with a tongue cleaner to purify your mouth. If you have a white coating on your tongue, you have a buildup of "ama", or toxins in the colon. A tongue scraper will fix that right up. Do a neti pot, and put a little oil in your nose to purify the sinuses and your sense of smell.
Finally, a dry skin brushing, followed by abhyanga (self massage) will work wonders for the detoxification process. Dry brushing is awesome for stimulating your lymphatic system (eliminating toxins), increasing circulation and improving digestion and kidney function.
I talked about abhyanaga here. Basically it is a self massage with warm sesame oil where the skin releases healing chemicals that have wonderful effects on our bodies -- including detoxifying the body's tissues, increasing circulation, calming the mind, and enhancing immune function.
I like to do my oil pulling while performing skiing brushing and abhyanga. This step takes about 10-20 min, so time passes a bit quicker if I do it during some of my other rituals. Oil pulling (swishing around a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth) gets rid of any further toxins, and has numerous health benefits, including: reducing gum disease and inflammation, stopping bad breath, enhancing your senses and invigorating your mind.
After warming up your circulatory system with self massage, engaging in either an energizing or calming exercise is key to a healthy mind, body and spirit. I prefer a light yoga practice, but you can choose other exercises such as walking, swimming, qigong, etc. To be truthful, I'm not a fan of "working out", so light exercises are perfect for me. My yoga practice is completely off right now, as i I haven't practiced regularly for almost a year (and I was never consistent enough to begin with). During my detox, I made sure this was done absolutely every morning. My Yoga Online/ Gaiam TV, has a vast library of yoga videos, articles, guides and so much more. This 8-day yoga detox program includes suggested daily practices geared toward detoxification. Some were too difficult for me, so I simply searched the library and modified my practice to suit my abilities.
After exercise, shower to remove any excess oil and dirt. At the end of my shower, I do a burst of cold water. Alternating hot and cold increases circulation, encouraging lymphatic flow, and boosts metabolism and immune function.
Hydrotherapy is super important during detoxification- and actually one of my favourite aspects of the cleanse. Theres nothing more natural than the powerful detoxifying qualities of water. Hydroptherapy also includes: drinking tons of water, dry skin brushing, hot and cold showers, castor oil packs, saunas, and epsom salt baths. You can learn more about these options here.
Take 10-15 minutes to sit and meditate. It's the best way to help me feel more relaxed and calm throughout the day. If you have a hard time sitting in silence, and clearing your mind, put on some meditation or mantra music, or use a guided meditation that you can easily find online.
My regular routine is to wake up and eat breakfast with my cup of coffee. During this process, holding off until I completed other rituals worked wonders, and I didn't feel like I was in a rush to prepare something. Relaxing and detoxifying foods are best. According to the detox guide, I should have been eating millet porridge, with spices such as cardamom and fennel. I did this for the first 2 days, but the taste of cardamom is too strong for me, and I just wasn't enjoying it. I replaced the millet porridge with oatmeal (which was still allowed). This was a delicious option, and one that I was used to having anyway. I switched up the recipes and made sure to include spices and ingredients that were detoxifying. My favourites were stewed apples, prunes, raw shredded coconut, freshly ground cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, hemp hearts for extra fibre, and a drizzle of raw honey. It was magnificent.
ESCAPE + GET OUTSIDE
It's important that during the detox, you let your body rest, but I also made sure to get outside and escape with nature. Go for a walk, get some fresh air-- how about a hike in the forest with some friends? It's a great opportunity to discover new places.
EVENING SALT BATH + MEDITATION
I've never been much of a bath person, but during this week of detoxing, it was important for me to include this into my daily routine, and also to add more hydrotherapy into my day. An epsom salt bath will maintain the warm temperature of the bath water, pull toxins, and promote relaxation. I added a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil, and just melted in the pungent, woody scent. It's a versatile oil that is great for more than just soothing the body from colds. It has antibacterial qualities, but also promotes circulation and mental sharpness.
Meditation is recommended for evenings as well. You can just sit in silence, practice mantra, or maybe reflect on your day. I loved the idea of integrating my evening meditation with my salt bath, so I used the guided meditations offered on Gaiam TV. This is a perfect way to wrap up your day.
I get that we all have very busy lives, and just want to sleep in most days. I know I do. But I made a promise to myself to give these rituals a chance, and practice them every single day during my detox. It seems like a lot to get done before actually starting your workday, but if we get up 1-2 hours earlier and give it a shot, it will make all the difference in how we feel for the remainder of the day. I promise.
I don't do every single ritual, every day, or even every other day, but I do try to incorporate a few. I'd love to get to the point where this is my daily routine, and I will, but for now even setting aside 1 day a week to "treat my body" to these rituals is a wonderful thing.
Give it try and tell me you don't feel magical after?
Have a great weekend everyone.