Step into Spring – yoga to help you spring clean and detox!
Its been a few days of beautiful warm spring sunshine and makes you want to step with a spring! Or does it?! Are you full of beans and raring to go or are you feeling tired, sluggish and lethargic?
Imagine you’re a flower that’s been quietly hibernating all winter long, waiting for the sun to come out and the temperature to rise so you can blossom again. But when the sunshine and spring conditions finally arrive, you’re not growing—not an inch. In fact, you’re drooping a bit and your head is low. It turns out that the groundwater you’ve been taking in through your roots is loaded with toxins, and now there’s a buildup of some bad stuff in your stems. Though your body has a self-cleaning process, it’s overloaded right now.
The result is a buildup of toxins that can leave you fatigued and suffering from poor digestion, and that may even lead to disease. But you can help boost your innate detox functions by practicing cleansing yoga sequences and following a simple plant-based diet to help you detox and cleanse.
“Detoxification” means the removal of toxins from the body. Just like flowers, humans absorb toxins—preservatives, pesticides, stimulants, and heavy metals—through food, water, and air. Also, your own body produces toxins, called metabolic waste products, as a natural result of processes like digestion and respiration. Luckily, your digestive, endocrine, and circulatory systems come equipped with a complex set of mechanisms designed to eliminate these toxins through your mouth, eyes, skin, colon, urinary tract—even your breath. The trouble is that too much sugar, caffeine, and processed foods, little to no exercise, and stress can slow the body’s natural detox function to a sluggish pace. While there are many approaches to detoxing—they aim for one simple thing: to help the body do what it’s already trying to do. Your body is always getting rid of toxins, but you can aid that natural process by making detoxing a practice. Then, like a flower, you can blossom again.
Some benefits of an occasional detox, include having a lowered heart rate, clearer eyes and skin, better memory and concentration, and improved digestion. Good health invites a calm, clear mind that is free of many of the habits that often lead to toxin buildup.
Yoga can support the natural detoxification process by increasing circulation, compressing and twisting internal organs, and encouraging relaxation.
Inverted poses like Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose) use gravity to stimulate lymph and blood circulation. Inversions help to drain lymphatic and venous fluids from the legs and pelvis, and so enhance detoxification, Any muscular contraction will stimulate lymphatic flow. Inversions also send new blood to the liver and kidneys, giving them a rush of energy that helps get them detoxing.
Twisting poses, also increase blood circulation, The belief is that blood and impurities are squeezed from the tissues; then, fresh blood and nutrients are delivered to the organs to be soaked up. Twists dislodge particles throughout the colon and enhance organ health and digestion.
Twists enhance digestion and boost the flushing ability of the liver and kidneys.
Deep forward bends also promote good digestion by helping with elimination. Although helping the digestive organs to move (or flush) toxins toward elimination is very important, so is stimulating the para-sympathetic nervous system, which activates what’s known as the relaxation response. Restorative poses, such as Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), are designed to do just that.
The parasympathetic nervous system provides deep relaxation and counteracts the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which can slow down the detox process.
Another way to reduce cortisol during a detox, is to avoid stimulants like caffeine, and also sugar and simple carbohydrates, since the body converts them into glucose, another form of sugar. When you consume a lot of caffeine, your body becomes less sensitive to its own stimulants, like cortisol. When the perk-me-up effects of caffeine end, a sudden “crash” is common, leaving you fatigued. The same thing happens after eating sugar. The subsequent drop in sugar levels is stressful on the body, causing it to release extra cortisol to help you bounce back. Consuming sugar and caffeine throughout the day, then, can lead to more cortisol circulating, slowing the natural detox process.
During your detox, stick to a seasonal plant-based diet and replace caffeine and sugar with more-nutritious whole foods. To avoid withdrawal headaches, begin eliminating stimulants gradually several days before your detox.
Taking your time to transition into the cleansing routine is important, ease your body and mind into your detox program—and out of it. If you don’t take time to think about how you’re going to come out of your detox and what you’re going to take back into your life, it’s too easy to jump right back into old habits. It’s really about lightening up and giving yourself a fresh start.(from yoga journal)