I have been a juicing and smoothie mama lately. A few months ago, I bought a refurbished Vitamixer from my friend Inna*. Perfect condition! It only has been loved before by someone else. My daily kale and a myriad of other fruits and veggies intake has been astounding to me. I slip a little shredded coconut in to bring an island flare to one smoothie and some chia seeds into another so I can eventually resemble a Chia pet. And this is our secret, but my daughters are unaware of all the yummy nutrients that I am throwing in. I think we have all felt the heavier, richer foods of winter and now want to move them out. These foods were perfect for sustaining us through this long, cold season. In Spring, we move on and out.
What better way to do so then to add a cleanse to your spring routine. This is a perfect time to begin such a cleansing out for the digestive system. I've included an article from Lisa Scarborough, Moyo's Ayurvedic Consultant.
The new buzz word in the natural health realm seems to be "cleanse". There is a liver cleanse, a kidney cleanse, a cellular cleanse and a cleanse for just about everything. What exactly is a cleanse and why should we or should we not practice cleansing? My view of cleansing is through the lens of Ayurveda, the 5,000 year old health science from India. According to this profound system of healing, it is important to give the body, especially the digestive track, a break occasionally in order to "flush the system" so to speak. It is a means of healing and purification.
The western diet in general is very difficult on the digestive system, especially if you eat meat (even poultry). It can be a struggle for the system to keep up with digestion, often leaving undigested food in the digestive track. This stagnant waste creates a by product known as "ama", a sticky substance that causes blockages in the energy systems of the body. Just as cholesterol clogs the arteries restricting blood flow, ama blocks the "nadis" restricting the flow of energy. Regular cleansing helps reduce or eliminate ama, allowing you to readily tap into all the energy available to you.
A cleanse should not be taken lightly. It requires much preparation and for some, it is quite spiritual, as well as, physical. A cleanse is NOT a diet or a means of losing weight, however it does help to jump start a more healthy and pure diet and it creates more awareness of our tendencies.
The traditional times of cleansing are spring and fall. However, after the holiday season, when we've all overindulged just a bit, an occasional one day cleanse can be beneficial. Choose a day of the week when you are able to create some down time. A day or two before your cleanse, begin to drastically reduce sugar, caffeine, dairy and processed foods in your diet. On the actual day of your cleanse, you will eat only juiced fruits and vegetables, no solid foods. Be sure to balance the fruit with vegetables. I know many people who go heavy on the fruits, not including many vegetables. One of my favorites is apple, ginger, carrot and kale.
I promise it tastes delicious( even if it does look a little unappetizing). Use this day to rest, relax, enjoy nature, take a long bath, journal, meditate, anything that refreshes you. Avoid turning on the t.v, computer, cell phone etc. Read only inspirational material (no news, murder mysteries or work related material). Sip warm herbal tea throughout the day. You may want to stay close to home as it's not uncommon to visit the bathroom often. After your mini cleanse, begin eating things that are easy on the stomach such as rice and oatmeal. Try keeping the sugar, dairy and processed foods at a minimum for as long as possible. The goal would be to continue eating in a more pure way than you did prior to your cleanse.
Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a cleanse if you have blood sugar or other metabolic issues. As we get near to spring, I'll be blogging about our five day spring cleanse. I'd love for you to join us.
If you have any questions or specific nutritional questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Under The Bodhi Tree is my boutique at Moyo Yoga where I carry nutritional supplements and all things yoga, to support you on your journey. For more information or to schedule an ayurvedic nutritional consultation, contact me, Lisa Scarborough at email@example.com or online at Moyo Yoga.
Enjoy this blessed season!
*For information on Vitamix or tips on using your Vitamixer, please contact Inna Heasley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Buzzing Bee Breath (Bhramari)
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.
Supported West Pose
Props: bolster, two or more blankets, neck roll
Benefits: lengthens spine, grounding, gentle stretch for hamstrings, calf muscles, tops of feet, quiets the mind, good for anxiety, aid with digestion
Sit on a folded blanket and place bolster under knees. Bolster can be flat on ground if legs are shorter. Place one or two blankets on your lap between belly and tops of legs and rest upper body on blanket. Head can also be turned to the side. Allow arms to be comfortable either draping forward or by your side. Take some breaths to settle into the pose and stay for a minimum of 5 minutes. Come up slowly.
Revolved Abdominal Twist Variation (Bottom leg extended)
Props: bolster, 3 blankets, 1 extra blanket for warmth and or laying on lower back to ground
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. This variation stretches out lower leg especially through the IT band and around the knee.
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, bottom leg will straighten out to the side and other leg bends on top. For alignment and comfort add blanket between legs. Lengthen body over bolster, upper body facing down on bolster. Arms drape down sides of the bolster.
Bridge Pose Variation for Heart Opener
Props: bolster, two blocks, strap, additional blankets, neck roll for comfort
Benefits: Expands the chest muscles, opens the lungs, balances the glands, quiets the nerves and releases tension in the nervous system, increases oxygen intake to the brain, can stimulate the immune system (thyroid). stretch out lower back, release tension in the shoulders.
Lay bolster lengthwise on mat and place one block at about 9 inches away from bolster and the other block about 9 inches from the first block. Place a strap around the middle of your thighs and tighten so that legs are hip distance apart. Sit on bolster and gently recline yourself down onto the blocks. Adjust the first block to be directly under the shoulder blades and adjust the other block so that your head is resting on it like a pillow. Shoulders should drape between the blocks. You may need to add blankets to the blocks for further comfort. Stay in pose for at least 5 minutes. Take care when rolling off the bolster and blocks. May bring knees to bend. Pause before lifting up to sitting.
Labels: Ayurvedic Cleanse, Bridge Pose Variation for Heart Opening, Buzzing Bee Breath, Revolved Abdominal Twist, Supported West Pose