We clean our skin, hair and clothes”¦why not our body and mind? Spring has sprung and as nature renews, we too look to shed the old and rejuvenate. The buzz about “detoxes” and “cleanses” can be heard everywhere, but you wonder: What are the benefits and are they safe? Here are a few quick tips to select a safe, healthy detox and the many ways a detox can spring clean your body and mind.
What exactly is a detox?
Detox, short for detoxification, is the removal of potentially toxic substances from the body. Although detox is primarily thought of as a treatment for alcohol or drug dependence, the term is also used to refer to diets, herbs, meditation and other methods of removing environmental and dietary toxins from the body for general health. Detoxification is a process that involves several modalities and elements, so the body and spirit can be supported to achieve major shifts and rejuvenation.
A detox cleans the body and mind
Our bodies, mind and spirit are continually subjected to stimulus, pollutants and stress. Detoxing is a necessary part of self-maintenance, cleaning and rebuilding all three of these constituents. A safe and healthy detox will create space in both body and mind. It can help us shift more easily into eating for a new season, strengthen lymphatic, metabolic and digestive systems, and/or discern a culprit for any chronic digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic gas, indigestion and constipation.
Be cautious when selecting a detox
Not all detox regimens are safe, healthy or even effective. When choosing a detox, keep the following points in mind.A safe detox:
â€¦is guided by a nutritionist, doctor or a trusted holistic practitioner.
â€¦has a morning yoga asana practice, meditation and pranayama.
â€¦uses tools such as a neti, dry rub and tongue scraper.A potentially dangerous detox:
â€¦does not consider your unique constitution and it’s needs.
â€¦is only restricting food and incorporates no guided meditation, pranayama or yoga asana.
A safe and healthy detox will benefit the body, mind and spirit in very specific ways. Dangerous detox programs can cause harm to every aspect of our health and well-being.
How a detox benefits us physically
Safe and healthy detoxes deliver a great number of physical benefits, particularly for the liver, lymphatic system and digestive system.
Detox benefits for the liver
The liver is a large organ that everything in our systems must be filtered through. It is also our best friend for metabolism. Whether we ingest it, inhale it, or create it ourselves, it will at some point make its way to (and hopefully) through the liver.During a detox the liver is heavily cleaned out. This is done by restricting the diet to simple foods (i.e. foods from nature and unprocessed foods that are chemical-free). These foods should be highly alkaline (basic on a pH scale) and promote the metabolic function of the liver. The liver regenerates new cells faster and more easily than any other organ. The liver is where “you are what you eat” can really make a difference.A healthy detox will satiate the liver with nutrients, such as zinc, vitamin C, selenium, molybdenum, choline and methionine as well as herbs such as nettle, dandelion, ginger, licorice, black cohosh, cinnamon, burdock and psyllium. These specific nutrients and herbs facilitate and expedite liver cell regeneration and promote the secretion of bile.
Detox benefits for the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system is a complex network of lymphoid organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, lymphatic tissues, lymph capillaries and lymph vessels that produce and transport lymph fluid from tissues to the circulatory system. Lymph vessels, called lacteals, are present in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. The lymphatic system is a major component of the immune system.The lymphatic system has three interrelated functions: (1) removal of excess fluids from body tissues, (2) absorption of fatty acids and subsequent transport of fat, as chyle, to the circulatory system, and (3) production of immune cells such as lymphocytes and monocytes.The lymphatic system has no “central pump,” as say the heart for the circulatory system. During a detox, yoga asana (twists and poses that pull on our downward energy flow), pranayama (breathing exercises), sweat and increased excretion (from high fiber and diuretic tea) simulates a “pump” for the lymphatic system, moving our old intra-cellular fluid and renewing it. Therefore, detoxing can be a key component to flushing out the lymphatic system and jumpstarting our immune system.
Detox benefits for the digestive system
Billions of “good” bacteria live in our gut. This bacteria is a key component to the beginning stage of the digestion, metabolism and assimilation of our nutrients. If our gut is stressed from irregular bowel movements (constipation, or loose stools) or other digestive issues, the “good” bacteria can become compromised.Even if we eat a perfectly healthy diet (i.e. fruit and vegetable based diet, all organic or biodynamic local foods, etc.), if our digestive system is not functioning optimally, all of that nutritional goodness can be lost. During a detox, high-fiber foods and probiotics can ensure that our gut is swept clean and rested, and is an optimal environment for our healthy bacteria to flourish.
How a detox benefits our mind and spirit
“One should not accumulate, but rather eliminate. It’s not daily increase, but daily decrease. The height of cultivation runs toward simplicity.”
– unknownIt seems we are always accumulating — both things and toxins. Ironically, the chemicals most toxic to our bodies are often the ones we self produce! Stress response hormones, like cortisol, serve a very important purpose during stressful times; however, if we do not relieve the nervous system on a daily basis (through meditation, yoga, exercise, or simple pleasures), these hormones get over-produced and cause havoc for our body and mind. Stress hormones and the body’s other reactions to stress, such as tight organs and muscle tissues, set a particularly unfavorable vibration in the body. Detoxing can help restore optimal vibration and balance.
What we think and do affects the body’s vibration
We are all vibrating beings, whose vibration is constantly subjected to stress, and what we vibrate is felt by every person and every thing; hence, the energy we put forth will come back to us. Without re-establishing a positive vibration, we are perpetually emitting an imbalance, and therefore recreating experiences that do not serve us or are hurtful. Simply put, we are kept in the same place, no progression, stagnant.A comprehensive detox works on a vibrational level by including the right foods, breath work and meditative practice. Food is vibrating, meaning what we eat will affect our vibration (and thoughts). Breath work and yoga asana practice steady the nervous system, working deeply on our vibrating core. Breaking the cycle of our “day to day” in a supportive, healthy environment, a detox allows us to observe our attachments, habits and routines, letting us evaluate our emotional attachments and pseudo pleasures.
A detox improves quality of life
What we think will determine our vibration, and ultimately our reality. Detoxification can provide physical space as well as metaphysical space from our habitual thoughts, creating room for new beliefs and the beginning of a shift in our deeply-rooted paradigms. By choosing our thoughts, and by selecting which emotional currents we release and which ones we will reinforce, we determine the quality of our Light. We determine the effects that we will have upon others, and the nature of the experiences in our life. Incorporating regular detoxes can improve the quality of every aspect of our life and allow us to be a positive energy in the lives of those around us.
For more information on how to safely detox, visit YogaWorks.com to find a YogaWorks studio near you. YogaWorks professionals can help you merge the benefits of yoga with a specialized food plan that will spring clean your body, mind and spirit.