Three Cleansing Exercises to Start Your Day Like a Yogi

 

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As the fast pace of modern life continues to accelerate, many people in the Western world have turned to yoga for their much-needed self-care. But the typical yoga practice in the West is often distilled down to only asana, the posture-focused yoga that you see in most classes. While asana practice is an essential part of the yogic tradition, yoga is a comprehensive spiritual path that contains a slew of practices to help cultivate a balanced life.

Lucky for us, some of these exercises are simple, much quicker than asana practice, and can easily be incorporated into your morning routine. Below are three ayurvedic cleansing exercises, called kriyas, to help start your morning in a mindful, healthy way.

Morning Kriyas

Sinus Cleanse –

Cup purified mineral water into your hand(s) and sniff the water into your nose up to the brow. Be mindful not to sniff the water past the brow. Afterwards, blow your nose. Repeat this a few times. Make sure it does not come from the tap, even if you live in a Western country.

This removes the dust and pollution that blocks the breathing process and opens the air passageways to allow for stronger, fuller breathing. You can do this twice a day, especially if you are living in a polluted city, but once in the morning is enough. This cleanse is similar to using a neti pot except this cleanse can be done daily and does not require the water to flow through your full sinus cavity.

Tongue Scraping

Moving from the back of your tongue to the front, use a tongue scraper to remove any bacteria from the surface of your tongue. Tongue scrapers can be found in pharmacies or are sometimes included on modern toothbrushes. A spoon will also suffice. Thoroughly rinse the scraper before and after each use.

If you look at your tongue in the mirror after waking up, you will see it has a whitish, yellowish tinge. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing system, this coating on your tongue is called amma, and it is made up of toxins that prevent our digestion system from working at its optimal state. An excess of amma can cause bloating, irregular hunger, weight-gain, and reduced energy. The practice of tongue scraping has recently come more into vogue in the west, but it has been practiced for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic tradition. By removing the toxins from the tongue every day, we reduce the toxicity from the body and inhibit its ability to build up over time. This is one of many ways of reducing amma from the system, especially in the digestive tract.

Eye Wash

Cup purified mineral water into your hand(s), bring your eyes down to your hands and blink into the pool of water. Repeat a few times.

Washing the eyes out with clean mineral water helps remove the accumulation of toxins and supports the moisture that is essential to the proper functioning of the eyes. Eye drops are commonly used as an antidote for dry eyes, but in excess they can be harmful. This practice supports the cleansing of the eyes, which will improve our vision and works on the ajna chakra, allowing us to see things more clearly. The sensation will awaken you and leave you feeling refreshed for the day.

Bonus Evening Kriya

How we end the day is another essential aspect of feeling balanced. What we do before sleep affects how well we sleep and, depending on our sleep quality, how we feel when we wake up the next day. In addition to the common, powerful suggestions to ease into a restful night’s sleep, such as avoid stimulation like the Internet and TV, below is one simple exercise taken from the yogic tradition to end your day in a calm and stress-free way. 

Sesame Oil Massage –

Take sesame oil onto your hands and rub your temples, behind your ears, and the jaw. Do the same on the neck, shoulders, under the armpits, behind the knee (especially for those with joint pain), elbows, and ankles.  The more of the body you can cover, the better. You will feel a warming sensation as you rub the oil into your skin. Focus on the sensation and try not to allow distracting thoughts that might hinder the calm of mind that leads to a proper night’s sleep. After five minutes, wash the oil away with a hot shower.

A sesame oil massage will contribute to a soothing deep sleep and can help counter the restlessness that affects many in our society. Those who suffer from insomnia, overactive dreams, and other similar ailments can gain particular benefit from this practice.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Kobi Siman Tov, a yoga and meditation practitioner and teacher, a nutritional and holistic health counselor and life coach at Vagabond Temple in Cambodia.

 

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I Tried the Kardashians’ Favorite Detox Tea, and This Is What Happened

I had recently graduated college, and my body was feeling my beer-drinking, late-night taco-eating habits. When a friend offered me the extra Lyfe Tea he had ordered online, I couldn't help but think of it as a way to jump-start my diet. I'd seen the tea all over Instagram, promoted by the Kardashian-Jenner girls, Ciara, Nicky Hilton, and many more celebrities, but there are a lot of things I wish I had known before starting its basic cleanse for 14 days.

What It Is

According to the website, Lyfe Tea is a loose-leaf detox and weight-loss tea made with all-natural ingredients to "cleanse and detoxify, increase metabolism, assist in the digestion of food, suppress appetite, and much more." It's available in either 14-day ($35) or 28-day ($60) packages, which are composed of a morning tea and evening tea.

Lyfe Tea is not a meal-replacement diet but is supposed to help you detox and "reach your weight loss goals naturally and effectively." The Morning Lyfe Tea is a combination of moringa, yerba mate, green tea, guarana, ginger, and lemon peel, while the evening Detox Lyfe Tea is made from senna leaves, dandelion leaves, chamomile, and nettle leaves. (A full list of the ingredients can be seen here.) The tea is the only component of the detox, however, the company also offers a meal plan and workout guide for an additional $16.

What Happened

After starting the first day of my detox with the morning tea and a granola bar, I was ready to take on the day. It had me energized, though I can't say my appetite was completely suppressed for the whole day - but I'm also not the type of person who can skip meals and be able to function normally - though I did feel fuller earlier than usual. I'm sure the fact that I was so mentally hyped up to try the tea helped with my energy levels, but when drinking the tea, I found that I also didn't need coffee the way I usually do. As for the evening tea, it definitely had me running, not so much on the treadmill, but to the bathroom. The website suggests starting the tea over the weekend or when you're not in a crowded office, but I didn't listen; luckily I was able to work from home the next day. I did not drink enough water, and after "detoxing" so much upon first starting the cleanse, I found myself getting dizzy during the day.

After 14 days of the teatox, I did see results. I was less bloated and felt like my grotesque college days were behind me, but it didn't last very long. After the two weeks ended, my long-lost stomach returned.

What I Wish I'd Known

I wish I'd known that at the end of my tea-filled weeks, I wouldn't have the body transformation that Khloé Kardashian did nor would I turn into a fitness guru. It's absolutely necessary to drink a sh*t ton of water throughout the day, because I often felt dehydrated. Now that I am two years out of college and have rid myself of all those terrible habits, I would try the tea again with a realistic mindset. Although I did sometimes get full earlier than usual during a meal, I should've had snacks throughout the day to make up for the smaller portions I was eating to prevent dizziness.

What I Wish I'd Done Differently

If I'd known that I would see results from the tea, I would have eaten healthier and worked harder in the gym so I could take advantage of the tea's benefits, but I didn't really change my normal habits while drinking the tea. Also, I occasionally consumed alcohol during my two weeks, which is not against the rules but not the best decision while trying to "rid my body and life of toxins." I recommend the tea to someone preparing for a big event, whether it's a wedding or a birthday, but definitely consult a doctor or nutritionist before starting the teatox.

What It’s Really Like to Do a Week-Long Cleanse

Prior to starting the AaHa Restart Cleanse, I had never eliminated anything from my diet (my diet is rooted in balance and finding nutritious foods that I love to counteract the occasional cheeseburger or slice of pizza).

So when my co-workers forced invited me to join them on a week-long cleanse that would eliminate gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, processed food, alcohol, and coffee, I was a tad reluctant but absolutely intrigued. You get to have three full meals per day, with no snacking throughout the day (with the exception of coconut water or a green juice or green tea). While alcohol and coffee wouldn't be an issue for me to cut out (they're not staples in my diet by any means), I'd definitely have a hard time eradicating Cinnamon Toast Crunch with whole milk. THAT is a staple in my diet.

What's more is that not only would I be stuck on this crazy diet, but there would be actual healthy people holding me accountable throughout the week. The cleanse founders and other participants would be placed in a group text on WhatsApp so they could closely monitor . . . I mean, encourage and support . . . cleansers on their journey. I'd have to upload my meals. There was no room to cheat.

All in all, I looked at this as a week of challenge, personal growth, and learning. Here's what went down:

(Slightly) More Energy

While I can't sit here and tell you that I experienced a magnificent, unparalleled surge of glorious energy and my qi was exuberant, I did have a slight boost in energy. Particularly in the mornings. I attribute this to the fact that I took care to make a large, well-rounded breakfast each morning, woke up a tad earlier, and put good things in my body (read: I took a break from Cinnamon Toast Crunch). It's probably important to note that I don't rely on coffee . . . ever. So the lack of caffeine didn't ding my energy levels at all.

I Had to Pee All Day, Every Day

Something that you should know: if you're on a cleanse, you drink A LOT of water. Especially in this particular cleanse. And when you want a snack? Coconut water. And/or plain green tea. The influx in fluids incurs an influx in trips to the ladies' room, so get your Fitbits ready, your step count is about to go up.

The Community Thing REALLY Helped

Look, I was not really feeling the group text at first - I'll be honest. I thought my meals weren't pretty enough and I wasn't enthusiastic enough in the first couple days to really participate. I didn't know these people, and I assumed they were all Gwyneth Paltrow clones who eat like this every day and survive on the essence of almonds and that they were secretly judging me. That, plus the fact that I always had like 87 notifications at any given moment.

Once I got over my weird hangups, the sense of community was actually pretty awesome. And I was wrong about the Gwyneth thing. With the group text, I felt like I was held more accountable, and that when I did make a good choice, someone did see and they did make me feel good about it. If you've ever been presented with a healthy and an unhealthy choice, and you thought "whatever, I'm getting cheese fries, it's not like anyone else cares," then I'd highly recommend choosing a cleanse or program that has a community aspect.

Even though the women in this group were total strangers, I was inspired by their meals, their choices, and their honesty. There were slip-ups, mistakes, and more, but the group was supportive. They were also there to answer questions (mostly "is this cleanse-approved?") and to offer advice if you were stumped on what to make for a meal.

Better Habits Were Formed

Through this cleanse, I learned adult things like "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" and "not all delicious meals come from a cardboard box." Goodbye for now, ramen, Easy-Mac, and cereal dinners.

I also learned a lot about strategic grocery shopping, the importance of meal prep, and how not every food has to have dairy or gluten to be delicious.

I also learned to think outside the box and get more creative with my recipes. I made my Italian great grandfather's lentil recipe from scratch, filled with hearty veggies and savory spices. I created a vegan "drawn butter" with a little olive oil and apple cider vinegar to dip my artichokes in, and it was actually incredible. I made my oats with coconut milk and my scrambled eggs with extra virgin olive oil, had so many dairy-free smoothies, indulged in chia puddings for breakfast, and developed a new love for Harmless Harvest coconut water as my favorite treat.

Ravenous Moments Happened

The lack of snacking ability (snackability?!) in this cleanse actually led me to be particularly ravenous at the end of the workday. When lunch is at noon and you don't get home until 6 or 7 p.m., bad things can happen. And by bad things, I mean, my blood sugar plummeted and I was ready to tear people on the subway apart trying to get home to a bowl of coconut milk oatmeal just to satiate and stabilize myself enough to make dinner. I craved carbs, I craved sugar, and I wanted to cry.

That said, my particular work schedule doesn't lend itself to a nonsnacking plan. If I didn't have to be in the office until 6 and commute home for an hour, I'd make myself dinner at 4:30 or 5 and be chillin' with no problems. Just something to keep in mind.

Going forward and doing this cleanse again, I'd strategize a bit to either have my dinner in the office or to have some kind of cleanse-approved snack. It's less about "mindless snacking" (which I totally understand the need to eliminate) and more about not creating a starving sensation so you're more inclined to binge.

I Believe in Myself a Lot More

OK I know this point sounds like a motivational cat poster, but it's the best takeaway I got from this cleanse. Because the cleanse was only a week long, it was a small jumping off point with a low barrier to entry - essentially the training wheels for a bigger, more challenging, even more impactful cleanse. I breezed through a week, so I'm totally ready for more. Hooray for inner strength and dieting stamina!

I'm scaling up in October to try my first full-month cleanse with the TIU 31-Day Challenge, adhering to a similar nutrition plan of clean eating, and I totally feel confident after learning everything I did from the AaHa cleanse. I know I'll have more energy (but need to go to the bathroom . . . a lot), and I know I'll have to meal prep and plan my recipes and grocery lists. I'll ensure I have healthy snacks, I'll get creative with my food, and I'm DEFINITELY starting a group text with my friends to force encourage them on their journey.

I Did a Vegan, Gluten-Free Cleanse, Survived, and Would Wholeheartedly Try One Again

As a fitness editor, I get offered the experience to try a lot of detoxes and cleanses. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, but I can tell you that I pretty much suck at them. My attempts at juice cleanses usually last until lunch, mixing powder into water and calling it a meal is bizarre to me, and the idea that a two-ounce tonic is going to erase a night's worth of cocktails just sounds like a load of crap. In all of my failed attempts, I've come to realize that I love food - a lot. So the idea of giving it all up for the promise of a few pounds or the best energy of my life is not something I've needed. Until I went gluten-free and vegan for three days.

I eat mostly healthy, most of the time. I also eat everything, in the sense that I don't really subscribe to a specific diet. Like many, my healthy-diet downfall tends to happen on the weekends and on vacation. So when Project Juice offered me a go at its three-day Clean Cleanse just a week after getting back from Mexico, I was all in. Unlike most cleanses I know of, this one sounded appealing because it was real, actual food, the kind of food you chew. What the cleanse was missing was gluten, artificial sugar, dairy, and meat. Beyond that, most days on the cleanse were pretty similar: start the day with a wellness shot, follow that with a green juice before a filling breakfast of oats or chia pudding, a couple more cold-pressed juices before the afternoon snack of trail mix, a filling salad of some sort for dinner, and end the day with a rich and creamy nut milk plus another wellness tonic.

The cleanse promised a lot for three days: improved energy, better digestion, elevated mood, reduction in body fat, mental clarity, "and more!" Did I feel all of these things? I think so? To be fair, I wasn't coping with a lot of these issues, so my base of comparison wasn't great. It's likely that someone who was looking to revamp their entire lifestyle would probably feel much more immediate benefits. Despite this, I loved doing the Clean Cleanse. Not only do I plan to follow another clean-eating diet after coming home from my next vacation, but I also learned a lot about myself and my eating habits that has made me healthier overall in my day-to-day omnivore ways.

A look at day two's meal plan on the Clean Cleanse

Deprivation Is Not a Bad Thing

I've never been too keen on cutting out an entire food group. I also think food is too good to constantly live your life in a cycle of deprivation. I still mostly believe this, but I've realized that in order to get back to that place of moderation, you sometimes need to first go cold turkey. Ten days in Mexico was enough to disrupt my normal routine, giving me a new normal. Despite my best intentions when returning home, I found it hard to get back to big salads for lunch, nightly workouts, and the occasional happy hour. I needed an intervention. Because I had a set plan, nothing was up for negotiation in my mind. That inner voice telling me "just one bite" or "a sip won't hurt" was gone. I was laser focused on sticking to this plan, and as a result, it was super easy to transition back into my all-things-in-moderation mantra once it was over. The mental aspect of following a strict plan was exactly what I needed to get back on track.

When I say deprivation, I should also clarify that I simply mean eating super clean. I was never left hungry, and took in about 1550 calories each day, which was enough to sustain me, even during workouts. It also helped that everything tasted delicious, so it's good to know that being on a cleanse is not the equivalent of eating dirt and mushroom powder.

Planning Is Essential When It Comes to Eating Healthy

The week I got back, I ate just about every meal out; my energy levels and wallet suffered big time. Having my meals ready to go was a reminder that meal planning is essential for staying on course. Before my cleanse was even over, I headed to the grocery store to make sure my kitchen was stocked, so once the cleanse was over, I'd be less likely to order delivery or grab something from my nearby bodega. Yes, having someone prep my meals for three days was a definite luxury, but it inspired me to do the same on a more consistent basis, which has made my body and bank account better for it.

Clean Eating Is a Gateway Drug

Once I started eating clean, everything else seemed to fall into place. As soon as my cleanse started, I was right back into my fitness routine. I also felt more mindful. I found that I was going to bed at a decent hour, watching less TV, walking more, and remembering to wash the makeup off of my face - every. damn. night. When I eat better, I feel better, and it makes me want to extend that feeling into all aspects of my life. This mind-body connection was huge for me. Now on days when I feel sluggish, moody, or uninspired, I take a quick account of what I've been eating. More often than not, I find that my off days are connected to fatty foods, refined carbs, or alcohol.

A final word on giving up meat, dairy, and gluten: from a personal standpoint, I didn't feel a huge difference from eliminating meat or gluten from my diet. If anything, I missed having an easy source of protein from lean meat, as I do find it hard to get enough of the nutrient while following a plant-based lifestyle. I've pretty much kept off of dairy and found that my digestion and skin appearance have both vastly improved.

5 Reasons to Go on a Cleanse

Feeling tired, bloated, and lethargic from the holidays? Many people think going on a cleanse in January is a good post-party solution for dropping unwanted pounds fast. But going on an elimination diet - where you remove certain foods, like anything with gluten, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol and focus on eating only fresh, whole foods - is more than about fitting into smaller jeans. While all-juice cleanses can be calorie restricting, a proper elimination diet ensures you eat enough of these nutritious foods to stay healthy (read more about what to expect on an elimination diet here). So if it's not about weight loss, why should you cleanse? Read on for reasons to try an elimination diet!

A Green Detox Juice Recipe to Ring In the New Year

Here's a fresh juice recipe that will help you shake off holiday indulgences and start clean. This recipe is made from an array of ingredients that have natural detoxing properties: watercress helps energize cleansing enzymes in the liver, and, like celery, it's a natural diuretic. Antioxidant-rich spinach boosts chlorophyll levels in the digestive tract, which helps the body get rid of environmental toxins. Lemon is a great source of vitamin C and helps alkalize the body. Spicy ginger aids digestion. And besides giving a boost of vitamins, apples add just enough natural sugar to mask the earthy taste of the greens. This juice is bound to become part of your daily ritual.


Green Detox Pressed Juice

Notes

If you don't have a juicer, turn the recipe into a smoothie by using a blender instead.

Ingredients

1/2 bunch spinach
1 handful watercress
1/2 lemon, peeled
1 celery stalk
2 apples
1-inch slice of ginger

Directions

Juice all ingredients into a tall glass. Serve immediately.

Source

The benefits of Burdock root for cleanse and balance

Research indicates that burdock root tea is a powerful anti-inflammatory remedy. It is packed with antioxidants to protect the liver from toxic chemicals, allowing it to process the body’s naturally occurring steroids which are helpful in achieving hormonal balance. A mildly bitter herb, it stimulates the release of gastric juices and aids digestion.
This combination of qualities explains its traditional use in treating acne, eczema, endometriosis, psoriasis, and uterine fibroids. The tea can also be used as a wash to treat skin infections, eczema, and psoriasis.

Generally safe for use as a food or herb.

Find this herb at SuppleSkinBoutique.com

What is Birch leaf and how can you use it to cleanse?

Birch leaf teas relieve bladder and kidney infections by acting as a diuretic, effectively flushing the infectious microorganisms out of the body. For best results, you should also take unsweetened cranberry or blueberry juice.

Don’t use birch leaf if you are already taking another diuretic, especially if you are taking Lasix (furosemide).

Find this herb at SuppleSkinBoutique.com