The most natural purification is one that is done with respect for the bodies’ natural processes. Colonics, intense cleansing/fasting, nasal irrigations and other powerful cleansing tools are best used with the help of a trained professional. Ayurvedic doctors, naturopaths and Chinese medical practitioners can be helpful allies in your quest for detoxification and cleansing. However, what’s most important to remember about purifying the body is that a daily practice of healthy eating, exercise, and a balance of work and rest in your life are the most beneficial actions to take. Your body knows how to keep itself clean, healthy and balanced, so the best thing you can do is step out of the way, engage in activities that promote health, and the detox process will be something that occurs organically everyday in the body’s own natural rhythm.
To begin this process, there are many things that you can do in your own home, safely and naturally, to create a space for the body to go about it’s own natural cleansing.
A few simple ideas include:
Add psyllium husks, flax seed or other naturally occurring fibre to your diet. Morning is a great time to enhance your fibre intake, which will leave you feeling more satisfied, will slow the metabolization and digestion of your food helping you to feel fuller longer, and will set up a healthy regularity in your eliminations. Sprinkling psyllium or flax seeds on your cereal, baking it into your muffins, or adding it to a breakfast juice or smoothie is the easiest way to make fibre part of your healthy lifestyle. Both psyllium and flax are available in the health food section of your grocer.
Water is the best detoxifyer, and ensuring that you get a good intake of pure water each day is essential. I recommend having a cup of warm water with a few slices of lemon first thing in the morning and before bed to help to cleanse excess mucus from the body, soothe the liver, and aid in the cleansing process. Lemon is a natural cleanser, and one of the most Sattvic (pure) and alkalyzing foods that we have available to us.
Reduce your intake of foods and drinks that disrupt the body’s natural rhythms, and cause congestion in the body. This includes foods that alter your mood and trigger a “rush” of adrenaline like caffeine, sugar and processed white flour or substances that trigger depression like alcohol, fatty foods and old or preserved foods. Reducing or eliminating your intake of processed wheat, yeast, refined sugar, cow’s milk dairy and alcohol will significantly improve your health, vitality, and reduce your waistline. Try it for a week and you will notice a tremendous difference in body and mind.
Choose organic as often as possible. Especially when it comes to meat and dairy products organics will have less impurities and more lifeforce. With fruits and vegetables I would recommend eating the foods that are in season, and go for the foods that look, smell and feel the freshest. Reducing canned, processed, and packaged foods will reduce the amount of impurities and toxins going into your body, so you won’t have to work as hard “detoxing” to get them out of your body. You really ARE what you eat!
Undoubtedly the greatest cause of disease in the body today is stress. Mental stress, a fast-paced and time-oriented lifestyle, over-use or an unbalanced use of the body and lack of true “rest” contributes to the build up of physical, mental and emotional energies in the body that over time cause chronic tension, disease, and disharmony in body and mind. To be truly healthy it is essential to have a daily stress-reduction program that will not only help you in releasing stress and tension built up during the day, but will also help you to build a relationship with your world that is more harmonious, joyful and vibrantly healthy. A guided relaxation, visualization, Yoga practice, walk in nature, or any other activity that helps you to relax, unwind and reduce the mental and physical tensions that accumulate are all suitable practices.
Sleep is an essential element of any program that seeks to reduce tensions and toxins in our bodies. It is during our sleeping time that organs are cleansed, hormones rebalance, and the nervous system comes to rest. In order to sleep well a habit of going to sleep at the same time each night is helpful. As well, sleeping on a full stomach disrupts the cleansing process and can increase the storage of body fat. Do your best to finish eating 2-3 hours before bedtime, dim the lights, reduce stimulants like television and computer use, and have a warm shower or bath before bed and you will aid both the sleeping and the cleansing processes, and awake feeling rested and rejuvinated.
A regular massage can be helpful in moving impurities out of the body, restoring the nervous system to a state of balance, soothing muscles and relaxing the mind. An appointment with a massage therapist is great, and treatments at least once a month will give you a regular dose of relaxation and nurturing that is hard to beat. But, on a more regular basis even a simple foot massage shared between partners or friends is a great way to connect, express your caring, make use of your own innate healing powers, and in the process receive a little caring and nurturing in return.
In Yoga “Tapasya” means “to burn”, and this is done through intense or heating practices that help us to “burn off” toxins, impurities, stagnation and congestion. It is said that to refine gold we heat it, when the impurities rise to the surface we skim them off and a higher quality gold is what remains. The same is true of our Tapas practices in Yoga. Tapas is a practice that brings you to sweat, to breath more deeply, and to heat the muscles and organs of the body helps you to remove these toxins and develop a cleanliness in the physical body by drawing out the impurities and remove congestion that is a breeding ground for disease and stagnation. Tapas activities include more powerful Yoga practices like Ashtanga Yoga or exercising to a level that causes perspiration. In many Yogic systems during the changing of the seasons is a great time to spend 1-2 weeks exploring Tapas activities. Remember, if you aren’t breathing to “skim the impurities from the surface” you aren’t practicing Tapas. Below please find the cycle of Sun Salutations, a beautiful way to inspire Tapas, and help to bring the body, the mind, and the heart into balance.
I do hope that some of these suggestions work for you during this season of cleansing and rejuvenation. Please remember that a healthy lifestyle every day is far more beneficial than even the most powerful detox.
First Published in the Mind Body Messenger Newsletter 2007