Thursday, April 1, 2010
Spring cleaning is not only for garages and closets. It's for us! We need to keep ourselves clean-inside and out. If you're like me, you may feel an intense desire to wash away the winter blues and cold weather sluggishness as Spring rolls around. This is the perfect time to turn to our mats.
Daily exposure to toxins affects our bodies, our minds and our energy. The build up of toxins in our bodies contributes to many illnesses and diseases (e.g., cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome). Detoxification is the process of removing toxins that have built up in us from the environment, diet, lifestyle, stress and emotional baggage. Yoga is a powerful way to detoxify not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well. Yoga utilizes specific poses, such as compressions and twists, to massage and wring out the internal organs, to bring fresh blood flow to these areas, to increase the flow of lymph (which carries out toxins), to stimulate digestion and elimination and to just get things moving inside of us. If things inside of us remain stagnant, toxins build up. If things are moving, the toxins are being flushed out. Yoga also helps to keep our energy centers (sometimes called Chakras) open and clear. Negative emotions and vibrations (whether from ourselves or others) can "gunk up" our energy and make us feel weighed down. Yoga cleans our energy. Purifying pranayama (breath practices) further help this cleansing process. The lungs are an organ of detoxification; breathing helps to eliminate toxins. Kabalabati (skull shining) breath cleanses the nasal passages and the lungs and builds heat in the body. Nauli Kriya, a powerful breath practice, moves beyond the lungs. This practice stimulates the digestive fire, thereby removing toxins, indigestion, and constipation. It also massages internal organs. Detoxification is the difference between your insides feeling like black sticky sludge and clear flowing water. Hmm, which sounds better?
When I come to my mat for a detoxifying yoga practice, I not only leave with fresh insides, I leave with a fresh perspective. I begin to apply the detoxifying practices to my life. What is cluttering up my life? What will make things flow more smoothly? I make a decision to direct my energy and attention towards things that are life-enhancing, things that assist me in achieving my goals and that leave me feeling healthy and joyful. I choose to direct my energy and attention away from things that are no longer helping me, things that drain me and leave me feeling lethargic and unhappy. When I am in the "Spring Cleaning" state of mind, physical clutter and mental clutter are addressed more easily and removed more efficiently. My mat acts as a starting point for change in my life. It is a place to recognize what needs to shift and a place to start making those shifts. Change on the mat is change in life.