I’ve never been a fan of prescriptive diets, but now that we’ve turned the corner into spring, my body is starting to crave fresh raw foods and tasty salads, so I’ve decided to go on a spring detox of sorts. I’m listening to my body to inform my eating choices, cutting out caffeine and alcohol, and throwing in a few cleansing rituals into my routine.
One of the Niyamas in yoga philosophy is ‘Sauca’, or purity/cleanliness. And spring feels like a natural time to bring in these practices. I invite you to listen in to what your body is telling you this season. And here are a few ideas for things to try.
Fresh salad leaves, juicy peppers and tomatoes, whatever you fancy, throw it in a salad then add in some tasty treats to liven things up – feta, goats cheese, pine nuts, roasted vegetables, and pesto are some of my favourites.
Cut the caffeine and alcohol
Maybe you struggled through ‘Dry January’, and the thought of giving up alcohol again doesn’t appeal? But winter is actually a pretty bad time to do a detox. Just as nature is still hibernating and resting, our bodies need warmth, nourishment and rest in the winter months, and if that includes a glass of red of an evening, so be it. In the spring, our bodies are drawn to the sunlight, to fresh foods that start emerging from the ground, and to shake off any toxins that have been hanging around. Cutting out alcohol and/or caffeine in the spring might be easier for you than in January – give it a try.
Give yourself a body brush before you step in the shower. Body brushing wakes up the skin, and all the fascia and muscles beneath, as well as stimulating the circulation and the lymphatic system that is responsible for clearing toxins. Follow your shower with a blast of cold water and you’ll feel energised and ready to go every morning.
Ok, so this used to gross me out a bit, but cleaning your tongue daily with a tongue scraper can be a great way to promote healthy digestion and clear the toxins (or ‘ama’ in ayurvedic terms) that build up on the tongue.
Especially good if, like me, you’re a hayfever sufferer – get yourself a neti pot, some Himalayan salt, and distilled or pre-boiled water and cleanse the nasal passageways daily. If you live in an urban environment, you’ll also be familiar with the experience of black gunk in your nostrils, the build up of air pollution being filtered through the nose. Use a neti pot to clear all this stuff out.
Epsom salts bath
One of my favourites – take a warm bath with Epsom salts to ease away the tensions of the day, draw out toxins, and replace them with vital minerals like magnesium.
In asana practice (yoga poses), twists are synonymous with detoxification. They stimulate digestion, tone the abdominal muscles, and massage the internal organs. If twists feel good for you, add a few more of them to your practice this season to encourage the detoxification process and to energise.
Setu bandhasana, or bridge pose, is included in most of my classes. And for good reason. It suppresses the stress response, calming your mind. It strengthens the legs, stretches the front body and opens the chest and shoulders. It stimulates the thyroid and lymph glands. And it leaves most people feeling both calm and energised at the same time – you might even find yourself smiling spontaneously in this pose!
So take your pick from this list and try a few out. Or add in your own detoxifying practices that feel good and work for you. Of all these, the one I struggle the most with at the moment is cutting out caffeine. I’ve never been a coffee fiend, but one cup of good coffee in the morning is part of my daily routine and it’s a hard one to go without. I’m persevering though, as I think my body needs it. It’s been 3 weeks so far…let’s see if I can keep it up for two months…
Let me know if you have any other tips for a spring detox!