You Are What You Eat

This phrase is a simple way to state that what you put into your body truly creates the individual you will become. What you eat (and drink) not only affects your physique but your outlook, your productivity and how you relate to those around you. It is especially significant when you are trying to establish a steady yoga practice.

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Tools for Detoxifying

yoga twist detoxThis past week, I completed a wonderful detox diet that I discovered in Yoga Journal several years ago. Because the reference is difficult to locate on the web nowadays and I have had so many requests, I will link it here as I address this week’s subject of detoxification.

Tool #1: Diet

Scott Blossom, practitioner of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and yoga has developed an effective and balanced cleansing diet that I have tried numerous times over the years. It was originally presented as part of a Fall Detox program. Since summer is officially winding down, now is the perfect opportunity to share some of his recipes with you.

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YOLY Challenge #33: Get Clean

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When I chose to focus on purification as a theme for my classes and the blog this month, I really had no idea that the word February (in Latin februare) meant “to make pure.”

Perfect!

Now, what do I mean by purification?

In general, I view purification as a method for letting go of the old and unnecessary to allow space for nourishing breath, clean food, and new energy. Purification is a way to rid the body of irritation, congestion and toxins so that you can regenerate.
We have transitioned from our month of restoring, resting and reflecting in January. Now is the time for replenishing and energizing.

Here is your challenge this week. Get started on the road to freshening up with these daily practices:

Clean up your diet

Try to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol and any extreme aspect of food intake. Drink clean water, green tea and take in more vegetables and fruit in your diet. This is not a cleanse but an awareness exercise. Try this for one week if you can and evaluate your energy level on day 7.

In my experience with caffeine withdrawal, it only takes a few days to transition. I went to an organic water processed decaf and feel that I have more energy than ever before! I hope to use this opportunity to transfer my morning cup to tea – the cleansing qualities of tea would be much more beneficial.

Clear the Mind

Start a Meditation Practice. Keep it simple and find a technique that invites you to your mat each day. Meditation can be done at any time so choose a segment of your day when you will have no interruptions. Last week, I posted the Hong-Sau technique. Its simplicity will be enlightening.

Filter Your Toxins

Incorporate a twist into each yoga practice this week. The Supine Revolved Belly Pose will serve to squeeze out the unwanted toxins and provide room for fresh nutrients and oxygen to enter the body.

If you are looking for additional ways to purify this month, the Shat Kriyas or yogic purification techniques might be appropriate. You may have heard of Jala Neti (nasal cleansing) and Chandra Dhauti (tongue cleansing). These are important methods for vanquishing toxins and clearing energy channels.

And finally, some purifying food for thought on the practice of yoga from this translation of an ancient Sutra of Patanjali:

“Effective practice of yoga produces physical purity so that attachments to toxins and corruptive forces disappear naturally…allowing both internal and external purity (saucha) of the body, psychic environment… through the removal of the occlusions of consciousness, there is achieved balance, cheerfulness, one-pointedness, harmony of the senses, and yogic vision. Here one is no longer attracted by corruptive influences because one has established (and is happily rooted within) an inner energetic freedom.”
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Green Tea in the Morning

teapot-1138913__180 While it doesn’t exclaim “Wake Up!, a cup of green tea first thing in the morning has helped me to find clarity and purpose.  I love its soothing quality and that it virtually paves the way to my yoga practice.

I am not shunning coffee.  I adore the taste and the luxury of the drink. However, first thing in the morning, it’s nature can be aggressive and irritating for me. I’ve realized that drinking coffee tends to sway me away from what is nurturing.

I looked for proof of this and discovered that there is a natural chemical called theanine found in green tea that provides its calming effect. Life Extension Magazine reports that “It leaves people in a better mood. Knowing that L-theanine can cross the blood-brain barrier and positively affect brain chemistry, scientists investigated its mood-modulating effects. The results of those studies have led to L-theanine being patented as a mood enhancer. How it works is not completely understood, but one thing researchers have discovered is that L-theanine changes levels of amino acids affecting serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain.”

Unfortunately, there is a bit of a catch 22 for the other qualities of green tea. In order to clarify, I’ve created these terms:

Keep the Catechins

The largest of green tea’s benefits is that it contains catechins. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage. The quality of the tea, whether it is powder (best), leaves (better) or bagged and the temperature of the water (hot to boiling) all determine a tea’s catechin content. It is also advantageous to add lemon. Vitamin C makes the catechins easier to absorb. Dairy, on the other hand, competes with it’s absorption.

Tame the Tannins

Green tea also contains tannins which can decrease the absorption of iron and folic acid. To counteract this effect, be sure to drink green tea in between (not with) your meals. Although it does not work well with catechins, you could add milk. The calcium tends to bind to the tannins in the tea before they can bind to your iron. Or, once again, squeeze some lemon into your cup (because vitamin C increases iron absorption).

Keep in mind that green tea may not be beneficial to all.  If you are taking medication and/or pregnant, please consult with your doctor.