I became very interested in detoxing after I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) about 12 weeks ago. My IBS suddenly developed after a car accident that left me with neck and back pain. Was it the stress of the accident, damage to spinal nerve flow or the onset of Crohn’s disease? Or perhaps a food allergy, gluten intolerance, infection or possibly an intestinal parasite?
Like many people with a chronic condition, I began to investigate potential causes and remedies, desperate at times to relieve the colon spasms, nausea and my distended abdomen.
Being a yoga therapist, I decide to follow my own advice and use some yoga cleansing techniques to relieve the IBS symptoms. I knew I didn’t want to continue using over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives, antacids or antibiotics.
I turned to yoga and Ayurveda (the natural medical system of India) partly because they are safe, easy and inexpensive. The Ayurvedic view of detoxifying suggests that we detox four times each year at the beginning of each season or minimally two times per year. The core of Ayurveda asserts that general immunity lies in the digestive track. Thus the goal of detoxing thus is to cleanse the entire alimentary canal and maintain open energy flow.
Second, yoga and Ayurveda assert that not only must the physical body be maintained, but also the mental body. They assert that indigestion and toxin accumulation are associated with blocked energy in the chakras or energy centers of the body. These energy centers become blocked due to stress, mental fatigue and negative emotions like fear, anger and frustration. Physical activity and cleansing techniques become crucial to maintain the energy or prana that governs colon health.
Below is a complete detox program based in yoga and Ayurveda. The detox is a shortened, modified version which can be practiced each morning (1+ days) between 5-7 a.m. when the colon is thought to be at maximal functioning. Practice on an empty stomach and always consult your doctor before beginning any nutrition or physical activity program.
Part I: Intestinal Wash and Yoga Postures
- Prepare three, 16-oz glasses of warm water with a pinch of salt and a dash of lemon juice for taste. Drink a glass of water and then follow the five yoga postures. Repeat this cycle three times. Once completed go to the restroom.
- Yoga Postures: Repeat each posture 8 times each cycle
- Upward arm press with heel lift: Start in a standing position, inhale and open the arms above the head, exhale, interlace the fingers and press the palms to the sky, lifting the heels off of the floor
- Blown tree: Keeping the arms extended from pose I, exhale and lean to the side. In hale back to the center and repeat to the opposite side
- Standing twist: Inhale and twist the body to the left, taking the right hand to the left hip and the left hand to the right hip behind the body. Inhale back to the center and repeat to the opposite side.
- Twisting knee pose: Come into low squat bending the knees and dropping the tail bone down (picture 4a). Inhale and release the right knee to the ground. Exhale and twist to the left. Use the right arm as leverage to press the left knee to the midline of the body. Repeat to the opposite side
- Twisting cobra: Lie onto the stomach. Inhale and exhale lifting the chest and shoulders away from the ground while twisting. Inhale to the center and exhale, twisting to the opposite side.
Part II: Rest and Eat
- Lie down and rest for 45 minutes.
- Eat and lubricate the digestive tract with a meal of boiled rice and dhal (split peas) cooking in ghee (clarified butter) for one hour. Repeat this meal six hours later.
Part III: Evening Breathing and Mediation Practice
- Alternate nostril breathing: Wait at least two hours after the second meal of rice and dhal. Come into any comfortable sitting position. Align the posture upright. Blocking the right nostril with the thumb, inhale through the left nostril. Close both nostrils at the top of the inhale and keep the left nostril blocked, exhaling through the right nostril. Continue alternating blocking the nostrils side to side as you breathe. Practice 5-20 minutes. This breathing calms the nervous system, brings mental balance and is a perfect aid for better sleep.
Ongoing Daily Detox Tips:
- Practice morning water therapy: Drink two glasses of warm water with a pinch of salt and lemon for taste upon rising each morning. Store water in a copper container overnight and drink the water before eating.
- Chew food slowly to facilitate full breakdown and release of digestive fire-enzymes, acids and digestive juices for digestion.
- Exercise each day for 30 minutes, enough to elevate the core temperature and break a sweat. Exercise is one of the best ways to maintain our body’s natural ability to maintain digestive fire.
- Be mindful of emotions as you eat and avoid overeating.
- Take a short walk after every meal, at least 100 steps.
- Practice breathing and meditation in the morning and before bed to reduce mental tension, the second main cause of poor digestion.
- Avoid late meals after 7-8 p.m. and keep evening meals smaller than breakfast and lunch. Allow for a 12-hour fast from the last meal to the next morning meal.
Darryl Olive, MBA, MHA, CSCS, E-RYT, LMT is a 500 hour certified and registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. He teaches Kansas City yoga classes, practices yoga therapy and leads yoga teacher training, Ayurveda Training, Yoga Therapy training and Thai Massage Certification for KCFitnessLink. For more information, contact Darryl for information about yoga classes, Ayurvedic lifestyle consulting and yoga certification.
He leads yoga teacher training workshops and is the director of programs for KCFitnessLink. For more information, visit http://www.kcfitnesslink.com/yoga_teacher_training.html, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 816.256.4443 for information about yoga classes, private yoga instruction and yoga instructor certification.
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