The upkeep of a healthy and pure body is a crucial part of the spiritual path, because a healthy body is important for spiritual practice. With a healthy body, meditation, yoga, and spiritual practice are possible. With a cleansed body, the mind becomes pure, peaceful, and clear.
Mind and Body Are Affected By Food
“Foods have both a physical and an energetic effect, so detoxification truly does clear the mind as well as the body,” says Manu Dawson, practicing clinical nutritionist and leader of many of the detoxification programs at the various Sivananda ashrams.
Correct nutrition and proper diet give fuel to the body and mind, while cleansing allows the body to reset and recalibrate. Even when we eat healthy and in the appropriate intervals, the systems of the body still require regular cleansing for prime functioning.
There is No One-Size Fits All
Types of cleanses can vary, from raw food to juices to Ayurvedic herbs, and depending on your body type, you will respond differently to the various methods. Still, the purpose of cleansing remains the same: to give the body the resources it needs to renew and restore.
“Some types of detoxes will resonate more with different people, depending on their unique constitution,” Manu says. “The main point is to find something that works, and to use general cleansing principles in your everyday life so you can keep your systems healthy in the long-run.”
While some people benefit from more raw food cleanses, other people benefit from cooked foods with many detoxifying spices and herbs. There is no one answer for everyone, so it’s important to gently listen to your body to determine the best protocol.
What About Yoga and Exercise?
While cleansing, we free up our energy for deep healing. There is no need for vigorous exercise during a cleanse. Because sweating is an important purifier, moderate to vigorous exercise can be practiced on most days. However on deeper, more focused cleansing days, it’s important for the body to rest. During a cleanse it’s important to maintain a supportive and gentle yogic regimen — some asanas, meditation, and spiritual reading — to let the body and mind relax. These are also helpful to practice on a daily basis, or when feasible.
“It’s not only food that helps the body detoxify,” Manu says. “Asanas and pranayama also physically remove toxins. These are cleansing exercises you can practice every day to assist the detoxification functions of the body.”
How Often Should I Cleanse?
Even if you attend a cleansing program once or several times a year, detox practices are still recommended daily. “It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to water fast, dry fast, or drink only juices” Manu says. “By eating inherently cleansing foods, like certain fruits, vegetables, herbs, and engaging in plant-based eating, you will naturally detox well.”
One day per week is the recommended amount of time to focus on deeper-level cleansing, when you are detoxifying at home. Examples could include drinking more water, using herbs like turmeric with black pepper or milk thistle, getting more rest, and eliminating heavier foods for that day.
Cleansing Has Profound Benefits
One of the greatest benefits of cleanses is the mental and spiritual clarity that comes from the purification process. It can take time to clear out the toxins and undo the damage that the body has endured over some years. During that cleansing process, the mind might feel agitated or the body weak. However, once the main purification process has occurred, the body can move into its restoration phase. At this point, the body feels lighter and the mind feels more calm and peaceful.
When you’re cleansing, on your own or in a guided group, it’s important to meet yourself where you are. Everyone is at a different level of healing, so a cleanse for one person might look completely different from a cleanse for another person. Be kind to yourself and love your body. These simple principles open the door to one of the most profound benefits of cleansing — treating your body like the temple it is.
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Manu Dawson is a certified Yoga Nutrition Therapist and Integral Yoga teacher, who has worked in the natural foods industry for over 25 years and directed hundreds of people in detoxification protocols. He is the manager of the Integral Yoga Natural Apothecary in New York City, where he offers one-on-one diet and nutritional consultations. Manu is a direct disciple of Swami Satchidananda, who was a direct disciple of Swami Sivananda.
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Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP is a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda, and sports medicine. He is the creator of LifeSpa.com, where ancient Ayurvedic wisdom meets modern science. LifeSpa.com is one of the leading Ayurvedic health and wellness resources on the web with over 11 million views on YouTube and over 130 thousand newsletter subscribers. LifeSpa.com is evolving the way Ayurveda is understood around the world, with thousands of free articles and videos published weekly.
Dr. John is the former Director of Player Development for the New Jersey Nets NBA team, author of 7 health books including his newest Amazon bestseller Eat Wheat and a repeat guest on the Dr. Oz show, He directs LifeSpa Ayurvedic Clinic, the 2013 Holistic Wellness Center of the Year in Boulder, CO.
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