November 4, 2013

The Detoxifying Powers of Ashtanga Yoga.

Taking a stop to rest and rethink the upcoming season is a sign that we are moving towards the right direction.

Our yoga path always allow us to take a break, breathe, and find samasthiti—the foundation of all poses and decide where we are going.

The Fall is a pure vata season according to the Indian Ayurvedic Medicine. The vata dosha is the primal air and space element predominant in our internal body as well as external environment. According to Ayurveda, vata controls bodily movements with dry, cold, rough, itchy, and irregular sensations due to the Fall weather patterns that produce imbalances in our body.

A detox is a bodily, mind and soul cleansing to purify and revitalize the toxins accumulated in our internal system. During seasonal changes it is most ideal to follow a gradual and holistic detox that allow us to give rest to our psycho-somatic body and recharge our immune system with new saatvic qualities—pure vibrant pranic energies.

Using Yoga’s first limbs can serve us as a guideline to our detox. The yamas or self restraints especially applying ahimsa—non-violence to our bodily organs, niyamas or observations especially saucha—purity and cleanliness and svadhyaya—self-study, will clear up our mind and allow us to be sharp and focused for the upcoming season.

The asanas, kriyas and pranayama practices can vary according to our energetic level. The detoxifying method of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga allow us to work our gross physical body by feeling the balance between strength and flexibility, especially by engaging our bandhas or energetic locks. The Ujjayi or victorious breathing help us maintain a constant heated bodily temperature to adjust to the new weather conditions while cooling the mind and allow the detox to naturally happen.

These as well as simple meditation techniques help us reorganize our lifestyle, especially incorporating foodways of fasting, juicing, mono diets, raw, organic and vegan eating habits for a holistically healthy and happy fall season.

As we use the gradual and adapted asana primary series of Ashtanga Yoga “Yoga Chikitsa” referred to as Yoga Therapy we tune in and tone our body. As we stand firmly grounded in samasthiti we flow through the Yang and heating poses that allow the cleanliness to happen. We use standing and balancing poses to built strength and openness for the seated, forward bends and twisted poses.

These will engage and relax our muscles as well as elongate and twist our spine while boosting our digestion and stimulating the throid gland. We need our asana practice to allow us to revitalize our internal organs, release all accumulated extra toxins and improve all elimination processes.

Through our finishing sequence of backbends and inversions we are able to be upside down, aiding circulation and bringing fresh blood and fluid to the head and upper body.

Engaging the bandhas as safe breaks in our practice—Mula or root lock and Udiyana or flying-up bandhas allow our internal organs to be fully active and attentive to all bodily changes. With a committed practice, the mind become more focused and the subtleness of our practice allow us to be mindful and gradually embrace all changes.

The Ashtanga Yoga is best practiced during the morning saatva as we are more easily able to adjust to the seasonal weather differences. It is also recommended complementing the practice with Yin and Restorative sequences that allow the body to rest and gently adjust with the new phases.

Recently, I came back from teaching the Ashtanga Yoga Retreat with Emilie McBride, in the Loire Valley of France.

Morning kriya, pranayama, asana and satsangs (or spiritual gatherings), complimented by a holistic diet allowed our most subtle energies to shine and embrace the fall vata qualities in the most balanced way.

Emilie shared with us lots of exquisite raw, vegan and organic recipes as well as a list of tips when doing a food detox:

  1. Pay attention to the portion: 80% greens (preferably raw) and 20% cooked food.
  2. Eat slowly and mindfully: Eating in silence allow us to go inwardly and listen to our body.
  3. Do a one-day monodiet cleanse: A monodiet of the Ayurvedic Kitcheri—mixture or porridge of rice and mung dal beans, giving the body a limited diversity of foodstuffs in order to produce a limited amount of digestive enzymes and lessened the work to be done for greater cleansing and healing.
  4. Raw diets: prepare smoothies, juices, gazpachos, salads as well as sprouts to vary the tastes and boost your energies, while strengthening the immune system.
  5. Hydration: Keep a constant hydration during the day and be mindful of any symptoms like headaches, nauseas, vomiting, or weaknesses in the body.

I was truly inspired by the group of yoginis, especially their openness to new learning and creative healthy ways.

Everyone happily and mindfully embraced the holistic mental, emotional, physical and environmental detox. As the week transitioned we supported each other; those feeling weaker as well as those feeling anxious, in doubt and in need of changes. It was indeed a detox bliss week filled up with saatvic qualities and most importantly, pure love.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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