I’ve been practicing yoga for the better part of 11 years and it is amazing to me how the practice NEVER ends. It continues to show up in many different forms for me in my life. It is the most steady comfort and anchor I have.
I am currently on day 15 of a 20-day cleanse. I signed up for this group cleanse for a variety of health reasons: To balance my hormones, to get back to clean eating after a summer of parties, weddings, vacations, etc. I did it with the support of a health coach who gave me a little bit of daily “oomph” to keep my motivation going. Guys… day ONE was the hardest day. I really mean it – after that, it felt like smooth sailing, and it is even hard to remember what my diet was like before this cleanse.
Before starting the cleanse I was reaching for the snack drawer at work around 3pm… for a bag of Oreos! They were the “pick-me-up” I thought I needed to chug through the rest of the day. What I didn’t know is that this habit, along with my large tumbler of coffee in the morning, or iced coffee at the coffee cart, were not only expensive habits, but were leading to this blood sugar crash in the afternoon.
These crashes always had me thinking that I should write to HR to create a nap room for me at work.
For the past 15 days of this cleanse I haven’t been tired at work. I haven’t wanted that 3pm pick-me-up. I have been on a schedule that is structured (ashtangis love this!) and predictive – it has taken any guess work out of what I am going to eat and when. No more take-out or buying lunch at work.
Here’s what my days have looked like so far on the cleanse. I thought it sounded scary at the beginning, too, but it really isn’t!
I actually decided to cut out the caffeine and alcohol before the cleanse even started, you know, for a “head start.” But actually, I knew what the withdrawal headache would feel like and I just wanted to get it out of the way.
Days 1-5 I kept pretty much my normal eating routine and in place of breakfast I had a Purium Power Shake with probiotics. I stayed off the caffeine and alcohol and started to wean myself from other foods (just temporarily for the cleanse) that were possible sources of allergens in my body: soy, eggs, dairy, wheat, sugar (all of my favorite things basically IN THAT ORDER).
I think the hardest thing for me at this point was giving up the Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chip Granola Bars that I always keep in my drawer at work. They are apparently loaded with sugar, womp womp…
Days 6-15 Are where the magic started to happen, and is where I’m currently at (day 15). I started to take more supplements to flood my body with healthy nutrients. I started drinking a power shake at breakfast and another at lunch. I loaded myself with as much water as I could (usually around 52 oz/day) and enjoyed herbal tea with a little honey 1-2 times a day. At night I was able to have what this cleanse called a “lifestyle meal” of as much food that I could eat (until I felt full and satisfied) from a specific list. AS MUCH as I wanted of: broccoli, kale, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green apples, for example. The list is a bit longer but these were my favorite go-tos. The cleanse also allowed organic chicken and salmon for meat eaters (I’m a vegetarian so my list was a bit shorter). About an hour before bed I have been drinking a tart cherry juice – which is SO YUMMY and I had no idea how good cherries were for you. They are a natural producer of melatonin!
For the last 5 days of my cleanse I’ll return to the same schedule as days 1-5, but honestly… I am loving this structure so much and it seems to make a lot of sense for me and my lifestyle. I feel lighter and more focused. I am actually contemplating only drinking decaf coffee going forward (yes, you heard me right my fellow coffee lovers).
So let me get back for a minute to Aparigraha. This is the last yama of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs and it is all about non-attachment. For me, this cleanse has been my yoga practice these past 15 days. Yes, I did some gentle yin and restorative yoga, a few Sun Salutations and meditation, but not the 90-minute practices my body is used to. During a cleansing period the body needs rest and time to rinse out the toxins that our body takes on from so many different pollutants in our environments, food, cosmetics, etc. Non-attachment came up for me so much these past two weeks as I looked at what my attachments were to my habits – were they healthy or not healthy? Did they serve me? Was I eating because I was truly hungry? Or was I feeling sad, bored, angry? It was alarming to me to see some of the attachments I didn’t even realize I had, and to truly look at where they were rooted.
Following the science of Ayurveda, we are moving into the Vata season, a time for new growth and creativity. During this cleanse I had the opportunity to practice with a pranic healer, who spoke about the need to empty out and purify before we can have room for growth and new opportunities. Not only has this cleanse been about diet and lifestyle for me, it has been enormously helpful for the state of my mental health, and allowing space for creativity and inspiration for new projects I am undertaking. It has simplified my life so that I have time to focus on what is really important: my family and my purpose. Hey, after a cleanse you know what they say… From Empty, Anything is Possible!
As we move into this Vata season at the end of September – this time of year when we all “start school again” – I invite you to look at your own attachments, using your yoga practice and this creative time of year to start anew.
I look forward to updating you all in a few days when I am “officially done” with the cleanse… If you have any questions about it or want more information I’d love to talk to you more about my experience. If you want to do a cleanse for yourself, grab a friend and use my referral code LoveRootsYoga to save $50!