When Mary Demere arrived at the ashram from New York City, her goal was to unwind from her fast-paced job in digital sales. So it was a stroke of luck that her roommate had enrolled in a 10-day detox course. “I thought, wouldn’t it be great to start my yoga holiday with a detox.”
She immediately signed up for the New Year’s Cleanse, Detox, and Juice Fast with Manu Dawson, and learned how the body needs to detoxify, not just sugar and alcohol, but heavy metals and pollution. “It was less challenging than I thought in terms of being hungry,” she said. “The challenge was dealing with the way my body was reacting; I broke out a lot, which was a physical manifestation of releasing the toxins. Then, further into detox, my flexibility improved and my meditation became deeper. It was nice.”
“Essentially the goal and types of detox cleanses I do are trying to improve our own detox function,” said teacher Manu Dawson, who has directed hundreds of people in detoxification protocols and regularly leads cleanses at the ashram. “Our body detoxifies naturally, well or not, depending on lifestyle. You want to employ the types of nutrients and food and juices that allow the body’s natural detox to work better.”
In general, the best foods to focus on are the cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale which contain indole-3-carbinol and glucosinolates to improve the body’s ability to detoxify, or spinach and tomatoes which contain glutathione, an important antioxidant. Parsley is a great detoxifier and apples can remove toxins like diesel, because they contain ellagic acid.
During the program, participants begin with a three-day prep to detoxify, eating just raw foods then progressing to juice. “Detoxifying with juice is better,” Manu said. “It gives the organs a rest and offers a concentration of vitamins.” Varieties of vegetables are used in a number of juice recipes, and specific supplements are offered, such as probiotics to help absorption. Fiber is also taken in the evenings to clean out and recondition the bowels.
As the toxins are released, students can feel nauseous, or have intermittent diarrhea, headaches, or even colds, often because they’re experiencing some of these viruses as they leave the body, Manu says. This happens not only physically but energetically, because food and waste material can carry emotional experiences. Asanas and meditation help them see these things and let them go.
While this program offers a comprehensive 10-day fast, you can reduce that to five and still get cellular removal, Manu says. “When you go back home, we recommend eating well, exercise, don’t do long fasts, just one day detox every week. Plus recognize and eat detoxifying foods.”
Staying on at the ashram several weeks after the detox program, Mary has been detoxing once a week, taking the supplements and drinking only water for the day. “In New York, I will probably buy fresh juices as long as they’re all organic and natural, no sugar added.”
The program, Mary says, teaches a lot about your body and how it reacts. “You learn about deficiencies, vitamins. Manu is an encyclopedia; he knows everything, and he sat down one-on-one to give recommendations. It was nice to have that.”
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