6 Days and 6 Ways: Total Yoga Detox
It becomes problematic that detoxes are so often associated with certain parts of the year. Whether it be spring or New Years, both times of year symbolize big life changes and meeting weight loss goals. But the fact of the matter is that if you want to make changes in your health you can start tomorrow. You’re the only one that tells you that you can’t do it. You’re the only one that concedes to failure. In fact, I venture to say, we set ourselves up for failure by depriving ourselves of nearly everything during our so-called “fasts” and more than anything else, doing them for the wrong reasons.
The only reason to make health changes in your life is for yourself. If you make them because you want to look good for that high school reunion or because you want that boy in the cubicle next to you to give you a chance, then you’re destined to fail. Sooner or later you’ll slip up and say screw it, ‘I always do this’ or ’I can’t do this,’ because in the end you don’t think that you’re worth making real health changes. Detox your diet and your life because you want to nourish this body that you’ve been given so that you feel good inside and out.
This is in no way intended as a doctor’s advice.
So let’s get started. Pick the amount of time that you want to detox and don’t overdo it. If changes are too big you’re sabotaging yourself. I think a week is a good place to start. You’ll move through the fast and then at the end of it in an evaluation period, you can meditate on making real, long term changes in your life.
6 Days and 6 Ways: Total Yoga Detox
1. Clear Your Calendar
This is your time. If you want to succeed in your detox week you have to learn to spend time with yourself. That’s what it’s all about. Plus your goal is to take a step back and view your life from almost an aerial perspective. The only way to truly slow down is to remove any activity that isn’t absolutely crucial in your life so that you have time to focus on what is truly meaningful and important for the future. Bottom line–remove any social activities for the week and try and get excessive work done the week before.
2. Prepare Your Meals
The Sunday before you start the detox you need to get your kitchari prepared so that you don’t have to worry about it the first day of the detox. The main meal for the week is kitchari. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s an absolutely delicious Indian stew that you eat for lunch and dinner. You’ll probably need to make a new batch about every other day, depending on how much that you eat in a sitting. But we’ll get started with the recipe.
2 cups barley
1 cup mung beans
3 tbsp organic ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp dried ginger
4 cups filtered water
1 stick kombu
1 cube vegetable boullion
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cinnamon
2 cups local vegetables (varies depending on the season)
Top with avocado if available
Season with Braggs Seasoning
1. Rinse the barley and mung beans three times and then soak for at least three hours, but preferably over night.
2. Add the ghee to a large pot and melt over medium heat. Add in cumin, turmeric, and ginger and cook for about three minutes.
3. Add in water, barley, mung beans, kombu, vegetable boullion, sea salt, cloves, and cinnamon. Simmer for about 45 minutes and add in vegetables.
4. Cook another 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through. Taste to test seasoning.
5. Serve with avocado and Braggs Seasonings to taste.
Other Grocery Items
When I detox I drink quite a bit of caffeine-free tea. Consider any of the Yogi tea varieties to drink throughout the day.
On those mornings when you’re hungry for breakfast, go with a simple breakfast of 1/2 cup rolled oats with soaked nuts and a touch of honey. It’s a toxin-free way to get your morning started.
You’ll be eating oats for breakfast and kitchari for lunch and dinner. Eat slowly and stop when you’re satiated. Be as mindful as possible when eating, meaning no tv or books. Just you and your meal.
This kitchari recipe is adapted from one of my favorite teachers Scott Blossom.
3. Commit to a Daily Yoga Practice
If you haven’t already, I cannot convey enough the importance of your own daily practice. While practicing at a studio is also helpful and so is an occasional yoga video, the Eureka moments will always happen when you’re on your mat by yourself practicing. First thing in the morning works for me and most people because between in 4 am and 6 am is considered “yoga time.” The day is starting anew with a certain freshness and quiet energy that’s just not quite the same in the evening. That being said, we are not all morning people and forcing something doesn’t make it work. Basically, a cat can’t moo. But either way, pick a time and hit your mat every morning whether you’re just stretching out like a dog or you’re moving through a more organized practice. We’ll hit on designing your own practice later.
4. Meditation is Key
Whether before or after your morning yoga, commit to daily meditation. I start with 30 minutes of meditation and then move directly into yoga but many people do the opposite. This is where trial and error come in. See which way works best for you. If 30 minutes seems like way too long, start with 5 minutes. Just make sure that you do the same amount of time at the same time every morning. During your detox week you may also want to meditate as the sun goes down in the evening just for a few minutes or so.
5. Cut the Booze, Caffeine, and Other Mental Distractions
Alcohol, caffeine, and television are really nothing more than mental distractions. If you want to cut to the root of who you really are, you need to go without them for the detox period. Substitute tea for coffee in the morning unless you’re addicted to caffeine. Again, we’re not trying to be drastic here, so if you’re getting awful headaches, just try and cut way back. Both caffeine and alcohol make it impossible to establish our true mental state, that’s why it’s important that you go without them for the week.
Television is another distraction that serves to separate the mind and the body. Instead, choose a few good yoga books to read while you’re moving through the detox. Some of my favorites right now include Happy Yoga, The Miracle of Mindfulness, and Zen: The Art of Happiness.
6. Get to Bed and Wake Up Early
Part of detoxing the mind and body is getting your life in the rhythm of nature. When we were in Africa I fell in love with the spider monkeys, what seemed to me as the happiest of all creatures. They were so active during the day, swinging from tree to tree, hanging out, stealing food, and having a good old time. But when the sun went down, it was their bedtime and you didn’t hear a peep until morning. When we visit one of my favorite places on Earth, Kauai I’m always in bed by 9 because I’m so sacked out from a great day of yoga, running, surfing, snorkeling, and enjoying the outdoors. The happiest existence is one that’s in line with nature. Try and wake up by 6 am and be in bed by 10 pm or earlier. Make your dinner by far the smallest meal so you can comfortably get to sleep without waking up groggy the next day.