Archive for December, 2012

December 28, 2012

Yoga Cleansing for Physical, Mental and Spiritual Wellbeing

January often brings with it the desire to start anew, however after a month of late nights and overindulgence, transformation can be impeded by the physical, mental and spiritual residue of holiday festivities.The good news is that yoga is the ideal practice to cleanse and balance the body and mind on all levels. The basic cleansing elements of yoga outlined below can be incorporated into a daily routine that will ensure that you get your year off to a great start.

When looking to cleanse and revitalize, asana is the obvious start for most of us for two reasons. First, moving your body burns calories, stimulates the endocrine, circulatory and cardiovascular systems and promotes the release of toxins. This is achieved due to the lengthening of muscle tissue, as well as the decompression, compression, and twisting of the internal organs that occurs when we practice yoga postures. To optimize your body’s natural cleansing processes try creating a short daily practice that includes a back bend, forward bend, spinal twist, and an inversion. Half Spinal Twist, either upright or any Shakti Yogalying version, is a great twist option. Down dog and/or shoulder stand are both great inversions to reverse blood flow and invert the organs for cleansing and promoting oxygenation of the tissues.

Shakti Yoga

The second reason that asana is a good place to start an overall detox process is that it is often easier to begin an inward focus by identifying first with the physical body. A regular asana practice can be the gateway into the next important cleansing yoga practice, meditation.

While meditation is not always presented as a cleansing process, an accumulation of negative emotions and thought patterns can be as detrimental to your physical and mental health as poor diet and inactivity. A meditation practice is the remedy for this. Meditation comes in many forms. What feels right varies from person to person. You can focus on the breath, an image, a sound, or a concept, such as cultivating love or compassion. Even more so than asana, this practice has been extensively studied and shown to promote physical and mental well-being. Much of our physical tensions or illness start in our thoughts and emotions. Mediation is the pathway to understanding this interaction. This is a much more challenging practice than asana, and like the development of any skill, takes practice and patience. If you are new to the practice, start by getting into a comfortable sitting (or lying) position where you will be free of interruptions and set an egg timer for 3 minutes to start. This will enable you to free your mind and focus on simply breathing and being in the moment. Do this daily until you feel you are ready to add on extra minutes and feel the transformation begin from the inside out.

Shakti YogaYogic breath practices play many roles in the cleansing process. Alternate nostril breathing and bramari (bee) breathing calms the nervous system and in turn, become thought and emotion releasing practices. Kapal Bhati and Lions Breath can be done to clean the body on a physical level in preparation for more subtle breath practices. Kapal Bhati utilizes the lungs to release toxins from the blood as well as from the breathing passages. Lions breath has cleansing and immune boosting properties. If you don’t feel that you have a confident grasp of any of these practices from simply attending classes don’t hesitate to ask any of the Shakti Yoga teachers for some extra explanation or guidance.

Finally, what you choose to eat is not only what feeds you cells but ultimately what your cells are composed of. Yogic eating involves eating fresh, non-processed, organic and nourishing food. While this is not always possible you can try to prepare healthy on-the-go snacks such as muffins and salads so that you are not tempted to eat out when you are rushed. And whenever possible, try eating freshly made food that still has prana (life force) which serves to nurture your pranic as well as your physical body. Eating with awareness and respect for the food that you consume will also help you limit your intake and make better food choices. (Coming up Jan 24th: ‘Mindful Yoga for Balanced Nutrition’, taught by Jessica Dinan. Click here for details:

Yoga is first and foremost a philosophy of living. No single yoga practice is a cure all. All of the above practices will synergistically improve your overall health and in turn impact positively on your interaction with, and appreciation of the world around and within you. They will help cleanse your physical, mental and energetic body so that you are able to utilize the benefits to heighten your overall quality of existance. Set your intention and use these yoga practices to ensure that your physically, mentally and spiritually up to successfully attaining your goals. Good luck and have a wonderful 2013 full of the blissful yogic combination of inner and outer strength, calm, and focus.