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Nov. 14, 2011 Restore Series

A step into the Unknown - A Cleanse

I have looked upon a digestive cleanse with much trepidation.  My mind told me (and it's always right!) that it would be too hard and that I couldn't go there.  I was healthy enough with yoga, eating right most of the time, meditation and other activities that kept me going.  But my body was telling me something else. I was sluggish, bloated, my skin was pallid and I had less energy.  It's time, I thought, to step in to the Unknown.  For once, my mind was on the side of my body.

I reached out to Lisa Scarborough, an Ayurvedic consultant, at Moyo Yoga, Moyo Yoga - Nutrition Counseling. She has begun meeting with clients about diet, lifestyle, etc. all according to your dosha (your constitution). She created a simple 5 day cleanse that is usually done in the Fall and Spring to detoxify.  I like simple.  It consisted of limiting food which I thought were vital to my existence like caffeine, sugar and dairy, a juicing regimen and a slowing down of activities while cleansing.
  •  I love SUGAR!!!!!  I never realized that I was completely obsessed with sugar.  My cravings got worse at night.  
  • That it is not nice to yell at the Drive Thru person when ordering  (hmmm...  yeah, doesn't make sense to me either. I'm detoxing but the kids are eating chicken tenders).  But really why call apple slices, apple fries??  So I was cranky.
  • Tiredness, drained
  • Ready to give it up Day 3
  • A new dawn - Day 4, more energy
  • No sugar cravings after Day 3
  • Skin looked great
  • Lighter
After the cleanse, when I slowly incorporated caffeine back and some sugar and dairy, I found that I wasn't craving it as much.  My biggest observation is how much my mind controls things.  My body doesn't want sugar and other potential toxic stuff, it wants balance, good food and a mind that will listen to it more wisely.

So why mention all of this?  Well, we are entering a toxic time with food and stress and the holidays.  This may not be the best time for a cleanse but perhaps in the winter months, you may want to consider one.  Or just a better awareness of how food and your lifestyle feels in your body.  Keep a food journal and if you have a specific reaction to a food, write it down, avoid that food.  Figure out how you can adjust to the holiday season so your immune system can stay charged.  One such way it to incorporate twists in your repertoire of yoga poses.  Our restorative practice this week included a supported reclined twist.  Try that after Thanksgiving dinner!

The Breath
Buzzing Bee Breath (Brahmari Breath)
On the spot relaxation, soothing.
Sit comfortably either on the floor or in a chair with spine straight and shoulders relaxed.  Hand placement is as follows:
Index and middle fingers of each hand lay across the eyes. Can place one at brow line and one on bridge of nose.  Ring fingers touch at upper lip.  Thumbs gently placed at indentation by ears. The pinkie fingers can rest on the lower part of the face or just hang there.  Breathe in and on the exhale, make a buzzing sound until all air is exhaled. Begin again with the deep inhale, exhale with the buzzing sound.  Continue for at least 5 breaths until you feel a sense of peace, calm wash over you.  If you feel like you are forcing the exhale, come back to your normal breath.

The Poses
Wide Angle Forward Fold (Upavisha Konasana) with Cupped Eyes

Variation with thumbs at Third Eye point

Variation with Chair

Props: bolster, two blocks, 4 or more blankets
Benefits: releases the pelvis which can help release tension in the buttocks, hips, belly and lower back.  Quiets the organs of digestion and elimination. Opens lower back area. As head rests on bolster, releases tension in frontalis where we hold stress in contracted state. Cooling and calming to overall body and provides a nice transition from day. Can help with sleep.

Depending upon the length of your torso, you may or may not need the blocks under the bolster.  A double-folded blanket folded over one more time adds height and comfort.  Place as many of these as you need on top of the bolster. Cushions and pillows are also good.  You will straddle the props bringing them in as close to your body as possible to support you as you forward fold.  Rub hands together to warm up the hands and gently cup them over the eyes and rest on the elbows on the bolster. Avoid too much pressure on the eyes.  To lesson any strain in the lower back, sit on a single or double-fold blanket.  Can add blanket rolls under the knees. Stay for 5 to 10 minutes. 
*note that for some students the breath can be constrained. Practice belly breaths to begin with.

Reclined Supta Baddhakonasana Up the Wall or Lotus Version
Lotus Variation

Benefits: inversion for legs, drain from the day, slows down breathing, calming the mind for meditation, lengthens inner thighs, release tension in lower back.
Props: bolster, blankets, enough to support legs, neck roll, eye pillow
Place bolster lengthwise against the wall. May stack a few blankets to create height for the legs to lay on or another bolster. Lotus version, cross legs and rest on bolster. Bound angle version, bring the soles of the feet together and rest knees on bolster.  Wedge a blanket along thighs to support legs.  Hips remain on the floor and an additional blanket may be necessary for filling the lumbar curve.

Revolved Supported Spinal Twist (Bharadvajasana)

Props: bolster, 3 blankets, 1 extra blanket for warmth.
Benefits: Gentle twist for the spine (quadratus lumborom) Releases stress on the back muscles and a stretch to the intercostal muscles. As muscles relax, breathing is enhanced. Aids in digestion, gently moving food through. 
Set one bolster lengthwise on your mat.  Depending upon your comfort, height can be elevated with blocks under bolster. Lay one blanket on top double-fold and one double-fold at end of bolster where your right hip will go. Sit next to bolster with your right hip touching it, bend knees, left or top ankle can lay in arch of right foot or other comfortable position for feet. For added comfort, place blanket between legs. Lengthen body over bolster, laying bent legs in one directions and upper body facing down on bolster. Arms drape down sides of the bolster.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Mom put down the paper
just to help me find my shoe.
Kim likes chocolate doughnuts
so her cousin have her two.
Grampa played with Julio
took him to the park.
If you forget to thank someone,
say thank you in the dark.

Thank the moon
thank the sun.
Most of all
thank someone.
Thank the stars
high above, 
one for
everyone you love.
- Sarah Durkee


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The Poses

Supported Forward Fold with Legs Extended (Paschimottasana)
Benefits: calming, gently stretches lower back, nice transition from the days activities.  A good pose to do if you need a few minutes break from your daily work, easy to do and easily accessible.  Good for headaches.  Breathing is easier since muscles of the respiratory system are relaxed. Massage for the digestive system.
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Bridge Pose - Supported
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