Lifestyle & Philosophy
Spring Cleanse and Detox Yoga
Spring is a season of rejuvenation, flowers blossom, the sun shines, the days get longer and warmer, many of us feel like we have more energy and enthusiasm for life- we ‘Spring clean’ our houses- and a yoga retreat can be a time to ‘Spring clean’ or minds and bodies.
During Winter we tend hibernate at little, we spend more time indoors, exercise less, eat stodgier foods and many people feel less energised and vibrant emotionally- Spring is the time to move that stagnant energy, to re-establish healthy active habits and embrace life!
Throughout Spring, I focus on ‘cleansing poses’, these yoga asanas work on the 'squeeze and soak' principal, where an area of the body is compressed then expanded, encouraging a fresh flow of circulation. According to Krishna Raman 'yoga's squeeze-and-soak action pushes out cellular toxins more efficently than other forms of exercise. He writes that the massage action in general brings freshly oxygenated blood to your skin, which promotes "healthy output of antibacterial secretions" enhances blood flow to your respiratory tract, and pushes blood into your bone marrow, increasing your body’s ability to produce immune cells.'
According to BKS Iyengar 'through the process of squeezing out the old, stale blood or lymphatic fluids, and soaking the area with freshly oxygenated blood or fluids, yoga helps the body use the nutrients it needs.' Shoulderstand is a great example of this process, the thyroid and parathyroid glands (responsible for regulating metabolism) are squeezed whilst we are in the pose, then bathed in a fresh flow of circulation upon release, the rejuvenating effect this has can balance the glands function. Patricia Walden teaches 'forward bends to quiet the adrenal glands, mitigating the fight-or-flight response, and backbends to energize them'. Many yoga asana (like inversions) also direct the flow of circulation through the body simply by using gravity. When you are upside down, in a headstand or even just with your legs up the wall, extra circulation is directed to the Pineal and Pituitary gland in the head, and these master glands regulate the function of the entire endocrine system. The brain receives a boost of freshly oxygenated blood, helping us think clearly. As we are upside down, the digestive system gets a good shake up, lymphatic drainage is enhanced and we get to see the world from a different perspective which can have a powerful transformative effect on our state of mind.
Yoga teaches us to breathe completely and efficently, the extra oxygen and prana (energy) that we absorb with every breath, gives more energy and mental clarity. Moving the body enhances circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids, helping the bodies cleansing systems and enlivening us when we feel sluggish. Yoga also teaches us to use our energy wisely, reforming negative postural habits and thought patterns that sap our vitality. On a subtle level the asana and pranayama practices we do, enhance the free flow of energy through our chakras, which has powerful emotional benefits.
Yoga strengthens our muscles, especially the ones we tend to underutilize in daily activity. By supporting our bodyweight in different positions we increase bone density, through the arms, legs and spine. Using breath and internal awareness we increase core strength, improving physical and emotion stability, balance and power. We’ll also focus on postures that support the physical activities we do for fitness and leisure, although unlike sports, yoga is decidedly non-competitive. Yoga challenges us physically while reminding us to accept ourselves as we are now. The ability to patiently practice and eventually do things we never thought possible on our mats, empowers us in our lives!
Yoga helps us move through life with grace and joy! The physical freedom and elation we feel after class is the short term benefit. The feeling of connectedness to our true Self, and ultimately the rest of the universe is the long term journey. Yoga encourages us to be kinder to ourselves and those around us, to get the perspective to make wise choices and to be physically fit and healthy enough to put all this into action!
Our goal in yoga is not to judge or chastise ourselves when we uncover imbalances, but rather to work body, mind and breath in harmony to heal them. With this in mind, if any of the asana feels uncomfortable or painful, release the pose and let me know. A retreat is an ideal time to refine your alignment or find another pose that gives you the same benefits in a way that suits your body better. If you are feeling low in energy, we can adapt to a gentle or restorative practice. Sometimes it is appropriate to let go of the physical challenge or your yoga practice and rather than focusing on getting deeper into the pose, focus on the benefits you receive. Do yoga to feel better not to get better at it and practice 'as though you were treating yourself to an hour or so of pure indulgence.'
L. Sparrow & P. Walden, The Women's book of yoga and Health, p 123.
 L. Sparrow & P. Walden, The Women's book of yoga and Health, p 330.
 L. Sparrow & P. Walden, The Women's book of yoga and Health,p 330.
 L. Sparrow & P. Walden, The Women's book of yoga and Health, p 95.