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Monday, March 24, 2014

Cleanse With Me!

Spring is here...even if it doesn't feel like's here!  Goodbye to the darkness and hello to the light!  It seems like every winter I spend in New York, I ask myself, why am I still doing this?  By spring, I know why...because it feels so damn good when it's over!  The thrill of one season moving on and another one taking it's place can bring out the kid in anyone.  Storing away our bulky jackets until next season is a simple task, but hanging up our energetic "winter coats", the layer of toxins or Ama that we accumulate from being cooped up indoors for so many months, is not always so easy.  The sister science to yoga, Ayurveda, is a seasonal approach to health and well being; it suggests that in order to seamlessly move into a new season, we must dance to it's beat.  Spring is all about lightness and creating good space or Sukha.  It's time to lighten up in every way;  IT'S TIME TO CLEANSE!

Here's Your Guide to Spring Clean Your Mind, Body, and Spirit:

Step One: Detox your body for at least 10 days
I've done a lot of different cleanses, and I think in order to be successful and still fun to be around, it's best to tailor the cleanse toward yourself.  Concentrate on eliminating the foods that you know aren't the best for you, that you have an addictive tendency toward, or that you consume in excess.  For me, I'm a sugar addict, so that's got to go; dairy doesn't love me, so Sionara, and I know I eat way too much soy, so Arrivederci!  That said, while cleansing, certain items must always be avoided: alcohol, fried food, processed food, and non organic foods when possible.

Decide among this list, what you would most benefit from giving up: sugar, meat, eggs, dairy, caffeine, gluten, and soy.  There is no limit to the amount you can clean your diet.  What are you going to eliminate??

  • If you make a Starbucks run three times a day,  I would suggest stopping the coffee for the cleanse.  You can give it up completely or switch to green tea instead for 10 days.  I warn you, caffeine is a drug, and detoxing off of it can be intense.  Headaches are common.  I suggest starting the cleanse on the weekend or on days that you are not going into work.
  • If you eat meat at every meal, that would be a good choice to cut out.
  • If you suffer from chronic belly aches, colds, or skin issues, try going off of gluten.
  • If you have a lot of mucus, stop the dairy.
  • If you feel like you might die if you don't get something sweet right this instant, put down the sugar, Jessica!

It's impossible to cleanse without learning a great deal about yourself and the way you eat.  After the ten days, be very slow to reintroduce the items back into your diet.  Return one item each day.  Don't make the mistake my husband made after his first cleanse and eat 4 slices of pepperoni pizza at the office on the first day off the cleanse.  You will most likely have to go home early.  If your body reacts negatively to a reintroduced item, your body is telling you something, and you should continue to avoid this food or consume it only in moderation.

Step Two: Detox Your Mind and Spirit: 
While you are cleansing your body, make changes to purify your lifestyle and enhance your spiritual growth.  Spend more time in nature and less time indoors.  Take a break from technology; stop all gadgets for an hour before bedtime and an hour after you wake up.  Meditate every day for at least 10 minutes.  Do gentle yoga or other exercise every day.  If your energy is high, do a more rigorous practice.

Step Three: Detox Your Home
Now that you've created more lightness and space in your body and your mind, it's time to free up space in your home.  Go through your closet and donate clothes you no longer wear.  Clean out your fridge and pantry; organize your spices.  Vacuum under your sofa cushions, and buy yourself a green juice with all the quarters that you find.

Here's my give away pile!

Step Four: Lighten Up
Set the intention of leaving the heavy seriousness of winter behind you and have more fun!

Practice wheel on a park bench!

Do a handstand on a tree!

***A little note about yoga and cleansing: Your yoga practice and your cleanse are best friends.  They go together like kale and quinoa, like sweet potatoes and tahini (ideas for your cleanse)!  Once you've cleaned out your gut, you will float around weightlessly on your mat; you will bind your poses deeper than before, and your forward folds will feel bottomless.  Mindfulness is at the root of what we wish to cultivate through our yoga practice, and cleansing is a great opportunity to reestablish mindful eating habits.  Chew thoroughly and really taste your food.  Take the time to properly eat your meals; strive to be like a fabulous Parisian enjoying a lengthy lunch at an outdoor cafe (just skip the wine) rather than a hurried New Yorker stuffing your face between meetings.

Begin every day with a cup of warm water with lemon, Enjoy your Cleanse, and have a Happy Spring!

Some Quotes to Inspire You:

Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners. -Shakespeare.

It is health that is the real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.  -Mahatma Gandhi.

When one’s food is pure, one’s being becomes pure Chāndogya Upaniṣad 7.26.2

One should not belittle food – the life breath is food… One should prepare a lot of food. The earth is food. - Taittirīya Upaniṣad 3.7.1 & 3.9.1

Every human being is the author of his own health or disease. -Swami Sivananda