November 10, 2011

Why Cleanse?

Why Cleanse?

I’m currently gearing up to begin my Fall Cleanse through Hiking Yoga. I’ve been advertising on my web page, Facebook, and at the Yoga Studios I teach at…and each season when a new cleanse rolls around, I find myself answering these same questions. So I’ve decided to answer these questions for you once and for all, here and now on elephant journal. Let’s do this:

Why Cleanse?

Before you decide to join in a cleanse, it’s helpful to take inventory and figure out what’s going on in your body. Often times people choose to cleanse because they’re feeling uncomfortable in some way. They may have unexplained aches and pains, excess weight, skin problems, major cravings (especially for caffeine and sugar), or digestive problems like bloating, gas or constipation. They may even suspect they have food allergies like gluten or lactose intolerance and want to discover which foods they are sensitive to. Some want to experience more vitality, wake up with more energy, feel younger, and kickstart a healthier lifestyle. These are all stellar reasons to cleanse, however they all have one major underlying theme that is the root cause of these maladies: toxins.

From the food you eat, the air you breathe and the lotion you put on your skin to the cleaning products you use for your house…(I could go on!) you are unknowingly exposed to thousands of harmful toxins on a daily basis. Thankfully, your body comes equipped with a natural detoxifier, the liver. However, the liver can get so overloaded by the high levels of toxins you take in, that they accumulate in your body and are stored in your fat cells. This can eventually lead to very serious illness and disease (dis-ease hits that point home for me!).

Cleansing builds up and repairs the detoxifying organs, releasing the harmful toxins from your fat cells into your blood stream for filtration (liver) and elimination (colon).

Whatever your reasons may be for wanting to cleanse, take a minute to write down your personal health concerns. What impact is this having on your life at home, at work, in your relationships?

When should you do a cleanse?

The most important thing to consider when deciding if you’re ready for a cleanse is…are you actually willing to do things differently? If you keep eating the same way, you will most likely keep experiencing the same issues. If you’re drinking lots of coffee, eating milk, yogurt, cheese, bread, muffins, soda, artificial sweeteners and processed junk food, you have a huge opportunity to use nutrition as your own personal “medicine cabinet” to feel much better. My teacher always says, if you eat toast and scrambled eggs every day, then you will feel toasted and scrambled! Take a minute to jot down your goals for your ideal health. What does this look and feel like? And how does it impact your life at home, work, in your relationships?

If you’ve decided you’re ready for a change, then It’s best to follow the rhythms of nature and change with the seasons. Traditionally we experience four seasons in a year: spring, summer, fall and winter. In nature, the winter season is the dormant or resting season where growing of produce is “frozen” until the spring when the first harvest comes.

In spring, nature begins to turn up the heat and provide lots of water to help stimulate germination of seeds. During this time of year we see an abundance of sprouts, bitter greens and roots. This low fat/low calorie fare helps to break up the heavy, oily, high fat, high calorie diet of winter. Then comes summer, a time when growing season it is it peak. There is ample energy from the sun, and an plethora of high carbohydrate foods are available to help sustain those energy levels. The summer heat breaks up the dampness of spring and dries out any left over mucus from the body. Finally, there’s winter. This is a time of year when our bodies can feel dried out or cold. We need lots of high fat, oily foods to keep moisture and energy for the winter season ahead. John Douillard, an Ayurvedic expert, explains this principal in detail in his book called “The 3-Season Diet, Eat the way nature intended.”

All right all you go-geters…what’s your plan this fall?

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