cleansing

Wring Out the Winter

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You may have noticed a little twist in your yoga practice here at Yogalife lately. It is by no mere coincidence that many of our instructors have been focusing on twisting poses in practice—as the seasons turn, so should our bodies.

 


Spring is an excellent time for detoxification and cleansing, clearing out the old to make room for the new.


 

Just as we might spring clean our houses—scrubbing out the dust bunnies and packing the warm, thick layers away—it is also important to spring clean our bodies, removing the heaviness and slowness of winter to make room for the lightness of the warmer months (and since we claim residency in Edmonton—home of the long winter—we have plenty of work to do!).

 


In yoga, a great way to aid and promote cleansing the body is through twisting postures. Similarly to the way you might wring out a wet washcloth to squeeze out all the water, twisting our bodies helps to “wring out” our internal organs, facilitating a more efficient cleansing process.


 

Here’s how:

 

Twists temporarily restrict the flow of blood throughout the body. When we release a twist, our now freshly oxygenated blood floods through our veins. This enhanced circulation helps bring fresh nutrients and oxygen to our internal organs and provides them with the tools they need to do their job optimally. Spring is the best time to support the liver, as it is our body’s main vehicle for detoxification. If you subscribe to traditional Chinese medicine, this is the time of year where the liver is the most sensitive—prime time for us to focus on keeping it clean and working like a champ.

 


The compression of internal organs through twisting helps to move along stagnated digestion and bloating, promoting the cleansing of our digestive tract for a happier, healthier belly. For anyone who has struggled with digestive upset, twists—alongside strong pranayama, or breath—can help to ease discomfort and facilitate better digestion and absorption.


 

In addition, deep breathing has a cleansing effect, as we are able to bring in the new—fresh oxygen—while releasing the old—stale, depleted carbon dioxide. In combination with deep twists, long inhales and exhales further aid the body in its gentle purging process. In whichever variation of a twist you might practice, try using your inhales to lengthen your spine and broaden your chest, and your exhales to gently bring yourself into a deeper expression of the pose.

 


Alongside their detoxifying effect, twists can also aid in properly aligning the spine, releasing the muscles and pain or discomfort through the spine all the way down into the hamstrings, increasing or maintaining range of motion in the back body, toning the abdominal muscles, and helping to release tension, stress, and anxiety stored in the chest, shoulders, and back.


 

You might twist from your feet, the floor, atop a bolster, or even balancing on your hands—different poses and variations make twists accessible to every body. Do you have a favourite twisting pose? Do you have any spring rituals or routines for cleansing the body? Let us know!

Cleansing Your Vessel

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I just finished my lunch and it was DELICIOUS.  I chewed slowly and enjoyed every single bite.  This was day one back on a regular eating schedule after a 9 day colon cleanse that included 5 days of no solid foods.  During this 5 days I only ingested a powdered combo of bentonite clay, psyllium husk, apple pectin and ginger shaken up in 8 ounces of organic apple juice followed by all the water in the world.  I dumped this stuff down my throat starting right when I woke up in the morning and then every 3 hours after, 5 times a day.  I would consider this an extreme form of cleansing but my conditions that led me here were also extreme and this was sort of my last resort.  We'll get back to that.


In hindsight this was one of the best things I have ever done for myself and will complete this same cleanse at least once a year.


Let's rewind a moment and start thinking about the idea of cleansing and restoring the body.  As we move into Spring (internally and on the calendar, not outside) we are entering a time of renewal.  After a long winter of hibernation and perhaps lethargy, it feels really good to start sloughing off some of the excess.


In winter we nourish and conserve our qi (life force) so we are ready to burst into this next phase of growth and awakening.


Various healing methodologies (Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine) know that  our energy mirrors that of the changing seasons.  Just as little green buds (eventually) pop from the trees and bring new life, our internal regeneration process is craving detoxification and cleansing so that we too can emerge with new buds.

So back to the colon cleanse...  I chose Blessed Herbs (available at Noorish or online) which comes with a shaker jar for my 5-times-daily concoction, all the little packets easily divvied up as well as digestive stimulator capsules (a fancy way of saying laxatives) and my user's guide.  This cleanse is intended to be simple and straightforward and I really appreciated the amount of positive feedback and testimonies (alongside some serious pictures of people's "success") available on their website.

In the past two weeks I have learned tons about my colon and have delighted in sharing this knowledge with others (perhaps against their will!).

In most vertebrates, the colon is the last part of the digestive system.  It is responsible for three functions: absorb sodium and water, incubate beneficial bacteria and eliminate waste.  Amazingly is it a little more than five feet long and hosts ten times the amount of bacteria in the intestines than there are cells in the human body.  THESE are the kind of facts your friends and family can't wait to hear!!!

The following is information that I found quite fascinating from my user's manual:

It is common after years of eating to build up mucoid plaque on the walls of our intestines.  This plaque greatly lowers our ability to absorb nutrition and makes our bodies much more toxic.  Mucoid plaque may be a layer or many layers of adhesive, hardened mucus lining the inner walls of the digestive tract.  It can be from less than one-sixteenth of an inch to several inches thick.  It is usually compacted with old fecal matter, bound up toxic waste, 'bad' bacteria, and/or unwanted guests.  The plaque can vary in length anywhere from a few inches to, amazingly, over three or four feet.

Even re-reading this information gets me so excited that this CRAP is out of me!  (I had to have at least one pun in here, come on.)

But seriously, better out than in.  My main personal reason for completing this cleanse and thus starting on the road to cleaner eating in general (including no wheat or dairy) is because I have suffered from eczema for years and years: 15 of them, on and off.  Often, the state of your skin is a reflection of what's going on in your digestive system and how well your body eliminates waste.  After this past few-month bout with eczema I am surprised I even have skin left on my arms to heal... but this body, just like yours, is an amazing vessel.  When you let yourself be healthy and give in to what actually needs to happen, IT WORKS.   I am ecstatic to report that my eczema is 95% GONE and I feel more energetic and alive than ever. When you make a commitment to health, you heal.

 


"I easily release that which I no longer need.  The past is over and I am free" - Louise Hay


 

If you have any other questions about colon cleansing, eczema, eliminative diets, cleansing in general, never hesitate to email me at caitlin@yogalifestudios.ca

 

Is there another cleanse you'd like to see featured on here?  Let us know!