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40 Day Cleanse Part III

Now that you have prepared your body for the upcoming shock of a cleanse, you can begin.  You might feel a “Healing Crisis.” This is what happens when you talk to people and you ask them how their cleanse was and they say…”I caught a cold or I broke out so I quit.  It didn’t work for me.”

In Fact, what is actually happening is what is supposed to happen. Your body is purging and lets face it…Amy Winehouse wrote about rehab for a reason. Cleansing takes determination, stamina and community support. A cleanse will rid your body of excess rubbish by burning it off in a fire of purification.  Think of yourself as the Phoenix that rises from the Ashes.

This is normal.  Continue, or don’t.  It’s your life.  It’s your body and you are going to do whatever you want to anyway.  It’s worth it.  All the stars a lining up for your success.

Day 1, 2 & 3:

Start light.  Start with a fruit fast for two or three days. Again try to eat fruit that is in season.  After a few days you have helped your body become accustomed to fewer calories.

Day 4, 5 & 6:

Now you can begin your juice fast.  It is much better to have a juicer and juice your own. No more than you can drink in one serving.  We recommend the Norwalk Juicer or the omega juicer, but really any cold press juicer will do. But if a juicer is not available look for organic juices from your local health food store. Try juicing for two or three days.

Day 6, 7 & 8:

After a few days, now you can begin your water fast.  Try water for two or three days.  Drink only water.  Be aware that your water may be contaminated with chlorine, fluoride, or worse.  Try to drink water that is spring or filtered.  Even steam vapor distilled.

If you are feeling a little sassy you can make one or two of your water days a master cleanse day.  Just add half a lemon, a few shakes of Cayenne pepper and a dash of Maple syrup to your water. The ingredients of the master cleanse helps to purify the body deeper.  Lemon acts as a cleaner for the internal functions of the body.  Cayenne pepper helps to dilate the vascular capillaries aiding in the excretion of toxins through the blood stream.  Adding the maple syrup in not necessary, but it can provide a little extra steam from the carbohydrates of the natural sugar.

Day 9:

Come out of your fast the same way you entered it.  GRADUALLY. Now reverse your cleanse.  Have juice for a day or two.

Day 10:

Eat Fruit.

Observe your thoughts, feelings, emotions. Observe your habits. Notice how you feel. Lighter.  Less aches and pains.  More energy.  Younger.

You can experience a number of things during your cleanse.  Each person is an individual.  And you have your own autobiography.  Durning our last cleanse at the equinox, I felt chilly.  I caught a cold.  My broken bones stared to ache.  Then, after all the complaints were over, I felt great. I noticed how much extra time I had saved from not planning for our weekly menu, not shopping for food, not preparing our food and not cooking our food. What could you do with your extra time?

Limit your physical activity.  Type A people, Try not to run any marathons…Type B people, Try to do the whole 10 days.

Depak Chopra says in his book,  “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind” there is no cell in your body that is older than 7 years.  So every 7 years you are (biologically) completely reborn. So what does this mean?  Your taste buds can change.  Especially once you remove impurities.  Try something you thought you didn’t like.  You might just like it now.

It also means that the things that make us age are metabolic waste, toxins in the body and scar tissue.  These can all be removed by a consistent yoga practice, a natural foods diet and regular cleansing.

10 Days? I thought this was a 40 day cleanse. It is.  You will do this cleanse 4 times a year with each change of season.  Start it so that the peak of your cleanse falls on the solstice or equinox.  So this spring you would begin the cleanse on March 21 to come into alignment with the celestial rhythms of the Earth.

 

Some tips to help with the success of your cleanse.  

  1. Get on the same page with your household.  If you can cleanse with your partner or family.  It is not fair for the cleanser to have to prepare the meals.  In fact, I suspect it was used as a torture device in the dark ages…
  2. If you’re feeding the family pick up some prepared meals at your local deli or order a carry out.
  3. If you can’t get on the same page with your household, find strength in numbers.  Buddy up.  Get a yoga or gym buddy onboard with you.  It’s easier with support.
  4. Educate yourself.  Collect data and make informed decisions for yourself.  “The Detox Book” by Dr. Bruce Fife is an indispensable resource while cleansing.
  5. Keep a journal.  Log your thoughts, feelings, emotions, dreams, anything and everything really.  Cleansing is a time of reflection and meditation.
  6. Keep it simple.  The more difficult you make it the harder it becomes.
  7. Smile.  Life is happier when you smile.

Have you done a powerful cleanse already? What were your effects? Do you have any tips to share? This is an international blog and people are always looking for tips. Please share in the comments section!

The 40 Day Cleanse (Part 2)

With the dawn of spring just around the corner it is the perfect time to come into alignment with the bodies natural rhythm and start a super cleanse. At our current rate, being inundated with information pouring off the internet, how do we know where to start?

Start with a Natural Foods Diet.

Down Dog on the Farm

Picking the freshest food available is optimal for your health + wellbeing.

A natural foods diet is eating as close to nature as possible.  The fresher the better. No preservatives.  No pesticides. No greenhouse grown foods. No Genetically Modified Food. Just food.  The food that Looks and Tastes like food.   Think about it.  How many times have you gone to the supermarket, found the most perfect looking tomato only to slice into it and have it taste like cardboard?  For us the answer is too many.

Chopping veggies

Eat Fresh. Enjoy the time you spend preparing your food. Connect to the food (because the food will eventually become you!)

As the seasons ebb and flow, so too does our body.  Bringing our body into alignment with the seasons can help maintain suppleness and health.  According to the Science of Yoga and the Science of Life (Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science,) Cleansing is an essential piece of the puzzle.

Cleansing has numerous benefits.  It can help to clear blemishes from the skin, speed up injury recovery time, detoxify our internal organs improving their function and  jumpstart weight loss.  Cleansing has even been proven clear the body of chronic diseases like cancer (see the Gerson Therapy). Detoxing can help to extend your life and improve the quality of it.

There are several methods for removing toxins from the body, Fasting, juicing, yogic enema (Bastrika), yogic breathing (techniques pranayama) and tonics, tinctures and herbal supplements.  Each has it’s own benefits and targets a specific part of the body.

The Detox Book by Dr. Bruce Fife.

The Detox book by Dr. Bruce Fife has become our Detox Bible. It’s a very informative reference for anyone who is thinking about cleansing.

Start your cleanse NOW by limiting your intake of alcohol, sugar, processed foods and caffeine. Try to eliminate completely non-organic veggies.  Now find out what vegetables and grains are in season in your area.  Vegetarian, carnivore, whatever…just eat close to the earth as you can. (*as yogis we recommend a vegetarian diet.)  Wild game and wild caught fish.  Grass fed beef.  Free range chickens. Eat those.

Fresh foods from close to home make all the difference when fixing' supper

Fresh foods from close to home make all the difference when fixing’ supper. This food was made with Love.

Now pay attention to how much you eat.  Turn off the TV and have a meal.  Prepare a meal with the awareness that you literally are what you eat.  Even the thoughts that you have are in your food as you are preparing it.  Remember when you thought it tasted better at home when Mom or Dad was cooking?  Why? Because it was made with the intention of Love. Now isn’t that something?

 

The 40 Day Cleanse (Part I)

In India, Food is considered a Goddess, her name is Annapurna. She is “the selfless mother.” Without her there is starvation, a universal fear: This makes Annapurna a universal goddess. Her association with the giving of food (wealth) led to her transformation into Lakshmi, the Goddess of Abundance.  While studying in India we learned to appreciate just how abundant America truly is.

We traveled to the rugged countryside of Maharashtra, a wild eight hour bus ride from Mumbai. After a truck stop and chai and an introduction to India’s unique style of sanitation, we arrived at the ashram in the middle of the night. The nearest village was a half days walk through cobra infested fallow rice fields. The village itself, trimbakeshwar, is a pilgrimage destination to many Hindus who revere it as one of the holiest sites in all of India. It is here that one of India’s most sacred rivers, the Godvari, emerges from deep within the earth. With the sound of holy mantras pulsing in the distance and the gentle lift of incense we found ourselves immersed in Ayurveda, the ancient Vedic Science of Life.

Just another day at the ashram, piling into the van with 15 of your besties

Just another day at the ashram, piling into the van with 15 of your besties

Unbenounced to us, our diet was Ayurvedic. They were cleansing us from the beginning.  After the first week, we felt stiff and sore and many of our faces broke out.  It had to be all the yoga, right?  After the second week, we caught colds. Apparently some of us knew how to be more hygienic then others.  After the third week, our faces cleared up.  It was definitely a side effect of our malaria pills. Finally, we felt light, refreshed, rejuvenated and awake. It was then they told us they had been cleansing us through our diet and yoga routine.  And it was then that they told us we were not there by accident.  Neither are you reading this by accident.

It all made sense. My body was processing all my stuck emotions, sickness and toxins. Point blank I was purging. The week two cold was a bug from when I was a kid that my body somehow felt the need to store in my cells and I was now working out of my system.  The breakout was my body pushing out impurities through my skin, let’s just call those the wild teenage through college years.  The payoff was, I felt like I was levitating.  Maybe I was…yogi parlor tricks Paramhana Yogananda would say…

Eating in silence allows us to focus on the nourishment of our body.

Eating in silence allows us to focus on the nourishment of our body.

Our food was fresh.  We never had leftovers-Not even breakfast to lunch.  They milked the cow at night. We had milk in the morning. Buttermilk at lunch.  The food we ate was plucked from the vine less than 12 hours from when we ate it.  Most importantly we chewed every bite 32 times and ate in silence.  (Why 32? It’s another blog.) In short chewing allows our saliva (a digestive enzyme) to help breakdown the food before it enters the stomach.

So with this in mind, preparing for a cleanse is like getting ready for the olympics.  There is some training to do.

  1. Start removing the junk from your diet. Why? because you are what you eat.
  2. Eat close to nature.  Remove processed and frozen foods from your diet.  The life force in frozen foods is gone and you consume empty calories and practically no nutritional value.
  3. Start a consistent yoga practice, preferably one with heat to jump start your metabolism and burn the stored rubbish and metabolic waste from your body. Be in observation. Become aware of what arises in your body, mind and emotions.  As you begin to seek balance, you are becoming clearer, lighter and cleaner.

A cleanse is like dressing a wound.  There are steps to take.  Step 1, rinse the wound. Step 2, stitch it up. Step 3, apply ointment. Step 4, Bandage the wound. Step 5, repeat until healed.  Imagine if you just slapped a bandaid on a severed finger.  It wouldn’t do much good. But by taking care of it in steps, it should heal-good as new.  Same, same with a cleanse. So this week, take the time to prepare your body to do the cleanse.

Tune in next week for The 40 Day Cleanse Part 2.

Thoughts? Comments, Suggestions? Recipes? I want to hear from you. What’s your favorite way to prepare fresh food? What have you experienced while cleaning out your physical closet? What emotions symptoms and feeling have you addressed or been more aware of?

 

Love is in the Air

This valentines day, cultivate the feeling of love in your heart. Love is in the air.

This valentines day, cultivate the feeling of love in your heart. Love is in the air.

Jack Johnson says it beautifully, “Love is the answer to most of the questions in my heart.”  It’s February. Here in Asheville North Carolina, It’s Cold. The trees are bare. (Coincidentally all this is a fabulous cocktail for a hot yoga studio!) Valentines Day is timed perfectly to uplift our spirits, engage acts of Love and encourage the growth of relationships-with ourselves and with others. Love is in the Air-even if it is cold air. Although the good deeds of St. Valentine may have been co-oped by Hallmark, there are HUGE benefits in creating a Day around LOVE.

  1. Everyone in the continental US (and some foreign countries too) have a collaborative feeling of genuine love in their heart on this day. This conscious connection to another person with pure unconditional positive regard does more to uplift humanity than just about anything else.
  2. We have the opportunity to stop judging ourselves and others, put aside the pettiness of life and show NBL–or Nothin’ But Love.
  3. The timing of Valentines Day, February 14th allows us to turn inward and practice loving ourselves. We have the opportunity to renew or update the agreements we made with ourselves at New Years. Those Resolutions we forget about by January 10th to lose weight or be kinder and more compassionate toward ourselves and others–we have the opportunity to make good on our word. This leads to a who heap of good loving’.

As I said, Love is in the Air. I know what you’re thinking, What does that have to do with yoga…Well everything. If we can cultivate a feeling of love toward ourselves we can share that with everyone. It starts with us, our world changes when we shift our perspective. When we practice asana on the mat, we are challenged in a physical way, which can often mirror our life off the mat.  Asana gives us the opportunity to get real with ourselves, face our psychology and ask bigger questions. The mat shows us who we are.

When we drop out of a challenging pose, we feel harsh emotions toward ourselves. When we embrace ourselves in all of our imperfections we can see that we are already perfect-and in need of much work. By loving ourselves on the mat, we can transfer that emotion to all that is around us.

What matters most in life is love

What matters most in life is love

Before you get all down on yourself this year, return to the meaning of the Day. Love. To show affection toward another. If you’re simply not feeling, Love in the Air, know that what you give comes back to you. Ask yourself, are you really putting yourself out there? Are you really being seen? Are you really loving yourself and those around you?

What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day? What are your plans? How do you celebrate? I would love to hear from you.

 

 

Keep Moving

I’ve been thinking a lot about moving (literally and metaphorically) lately. My life always feels a little faster-paced than I’d like it to be, but now is a particularly hectic time. The most immediate move I’m undergoing is also the most literal: I’ve just finished moving my stuff into a new place in town. I’m moving in with someone after making a conscious choice based in love and mutual respect. The new apartment is beautiful, the neighborhood is great, and it’s a lot more convenient for me in terms of getting to work, to friends, and to yoga. I couldn’t be happier.

Moving day mess.

Moving day mess.

That’s all great. Except I hate moving. Doesn’t everyone? Moving is consistently identified as one of the most stressful events in life. It requires huge amounts of physical endurance and mental patience. It’s always a longer and more expensive process than you plan for it to be. And, if you’re doing it yourself, you have to figure out *who*, exactly, is going to drive that terrible truck (it was not me this time around, thankfully).

I consider myself an expert on moving, of sorts. Since college, I have moved six times. Just writing that makes me cringe! Am I a glutton for punishment? Or just someone who can’t seem to put down roots? Whatever the case may be, that’s the reality of it, and I know that every time I’ve moved, I’ve had a pretty good reason. That doesn’t make it any easier. But here’s the thing: no matter how bad the move is, no matter how exhausted you are or how much pizza you’ve devoured out of the sheer need for comfort and calories, there is always that sweet moment when you’re sitting in your new space, surrounded by boxes, and dreaming of ways to make it beautiful. Moving, as dreadful as it may be, unlocks potential. It’s a new beginning.

My cat, Lear, is always ready to move. Here he is in the new place.

My cat, Lear, is always ready to move. Here he is in the new place.

Moving also awakens us to the energy and the love that’s already in our lives. In my teacher training, I often heard: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Moving has been that teacher for me recently. To do it, you must cultivate patience and awareness. You must expect the unexpected. Most importantly, you must reach out to others. None of the many moves I have made could have been done without the help of some truly awesome and supportive friends. These friends have also been my teachers. Some of them are wildly talented at stacking boxes. Others tape up the art I’ve collected over the years lovingly, in heaps of shiny bubble wrap that I will later pop with childish excitement as I bring out paintings to hang on my wall. Some bring me lunch because they know I’ve forgotten to eat. A few swing by after the loading is done to help me sweep. In short, they never cease to amaze me. To teach me something about love, and gratitude, and generosity.

It’s the same on the yoga mat. On one level, my practice is all about moving. I love the flow because it keeps me in my body. I cartwheel my hands, waterfall my arms, spring up into an inversion (or fall out–more likely, and maybe just as fun). And, just as with my move to a new apartment, I meet friends–and blocks–that teach me things. I lean on myself, my fellow students, and my teachers for the support I need to find strength. I get exhausted and wrung out, but I push my limits and I discover that I am stronger than I think I am. I forgive myself for not being able to get into certain poses, just like I have to accept that I can’t help carry the heaviest pieces of furniture. And at the end of a practice, just like at the end of a move, I am overwhelmed with peace, positive energy, and potential.

While I hope one day to find a space that will fit me for life, I know that life, like the practice of yoga, is constantly evolving. And that’s not a bad thing. So I keep moving.

A rainbow welcomes me to my new home.

A rainbow welcomes me to my new home.

 

*Ali completed her 200-hr Teacher Training at Breathe Yoga in Pittsford, NY. She is psyched to be a new instructor at Go Yoga. Look out for her class, Slow Flow, beginning next Tuesday (4-5 pm!)*

Making History with Yoga Alliance

We’re excited to be a part of a huge group of 100+ yogis shaping the future of our industry.  JP and I are serving the greater yoga community through the Yoga Alliance Standards and Ethics Committees. We’re thankful to Pam Weber and the staff at Yoga Alliance for spearheading the process.

Click here for a list of YA Members and Yoga Teachers donating their time and efforts to shape the future.  So here we are…Making History

Maybe Good Luck Maybe Bad Luck Who Knows

Cute Kids

Cute Kids

Our children and our families are our greatest teachers. Even with a broken thumb and a bandaged hand, our kids remind us to be LOVE.  This is India with her buddy Henry (the fireman) the day after she broke her thumb and had 4 stitches.  It was Easter Weekend.  She managed to forget all about her suffering and enjoy the moment.

This is the story of the night she broke her thumb. It’s a mother’s perspective. It’s a yogic perspective.  It’s something that just poured  from my heart onto pages of the story.  It’s published in elephant journal.  A yoga, sustainability, spirituality and culture magazine we discovered in Colorado.

Please click here to read the story.

 

 

Zen on the Go

By: Wesley Vonn

 

Traveling can bring stress to your mind and body that can hinder your happiness and affect the overall quality of your trip.  Even if you are traveling for pleasure, cramped plane rides, different mattresses, or stressful situations can put a knot in your back or give you headaches.  Incorporating some yoga into your travel plans can greatly improve your experience, letting you relax and enjoy yourself.

With more and more people understanding the benefits of yoga, there is plenty of opportunity to find a great place to do yoga while you travel.  Of course, a series of sun salutations in your hotel room can work just fine, but maybe take the opportunity to check out a new class while you are away.  Maybe you always do Bikram, but have never given Vinyasa a try. Find a studio nearby or even check with your hotel to see if they offer any classes.

Some airports and hotels now even dedicated yoga rooms.  According to Jane Levere “Hotels are providing yoga equipment and videos in guest rooms, as well as classes, often for no charge, while airports are offering yoga studios to passengers in transit”.  Stepping into one of these zen rooms before or after your flight can ease your tension and nerves about flying or help you reground yourself and refocus. If your hotel does not offer these classes then you could just perform your own yoga in the comfort of your hotel room. When I took a trip to Las Vegas I did my research on all the hotels in the area before I blindly booked a hotel. Of course price, location, and luxury level played a factor in my decision, but so did particular amenities that I care about. I researched by looking through reviews for Las Vegas Hotels here. These reviews seemed to point me in the right direction for a great yoga studio in a particular hotel in Las Vegas. Moral of the story is that if you do a little due diligence before your trip you can take full advantage of the amenities that you want.

 

If you aren’t lucky enough to stumble into a hotel with yoga capabilities, try to find the time to incorporate some of your daily yoga into your routine.  Travel easily throws of our body’s natural rhythm and doing some simple practices in the morning can help you get back on track. The wonderful thing about yoga is you don’t need to pack any extra shoes or equipment to get in a session.  All you need is yourself and you can find a way to do your routine.

So, next time you are feeling irritable on a trip or find your body feeling stiff and out of whack, think about doing some simple yoga poses or stopping into a new class at your hotel.  Take control of your mind and your body, wherever you may be.

JAI! Victory to Your Spirit!

Victory! A weekend immersed in devotion, left my heart uplifted and vibrant. A familiar brilliance illuminates my face, smile, a sigh, an evening of ecstatic chanting with my soul mate.

Our weekend started early. Earlier than most weekends do around our house. Our little angel was camping with the grandparents. The morning began with a pink horizon, signaling a shift in the weather. With dawn blushing in the sky, our embrace seemed to go on for an eternity. There was no separation between us. The yoga has begun. We share a hot shower to shake off the brisk Carolina morning.

There is no joy like giving yourself wholly and completely to love. To take your hands and scrub their body, their feet. To feel the gratitude from that simple act. First the giving, then the receiving. Finding a comfortable spot in front of the fireplace we let the flames warm the oil that will anoint and sooth our bodies.

A perfect day which is to be ever etched into my heart and mind. Our first aurora to be practicioners of yoga in the Space of Love we had been building for months. Coming together with each other-then in a larger community brings a simple sense of satisfaction and happiness to my spirit. Completing our physical asana practice, we found a place for lunch.

Asian comfort food for me. For him a total act of devotion. Miso and noodles a fortune cookie and a day planned for shopping. A give an take of this effect happpened all day as we considered first what he may desire and seek a balance between our needs.

Simple shopping to find the perfect piece for the studio and then a jaunt in the woods. A winter hike in Mills River. A tree that must have been hundreds of years old, hugging the bank of the flowing water-mossy and green. It smeled like Earth. And it was a definate location to find a wood sprite living in the hole under the trunk. An enchanted tree that pointed the way up river to a forest of downed pines and roddedrendum and mountain laurel. Weaving through the forest, we spot a game trail. A buck. Breaking branches with his velvet. Scouting the ground under another old but uprooted tree revealed treasures. The earth in Appalacha is full of Quatrz. The mineral, gem, crystal that helps to remember time. What the tree must have remembered…

An evening of estatic chanting with Jai Uttal completed the perfect day, which was only the start of the perfect weekend. On Sunday we had out workshop. Bhakti. Devotion. Connection. To yourself and the higher self. The cosmic consciousness.

We sleep in. A gift from the gods obviously. Or a gift from our late dinner and cider beer. The runs-also a gift from the gods and hard cider. Perfect for our pre cleanse. Part of the yogic lifestyle is purification. Through fire, austerities, water, rinsing away, abstenance-withholding, air-moving the breath in specific patterns…Our weekly ritual includes Basti (an enimatic cleanse using coffee to rinse the liver nd kidney and rid the body of rubbish.)

First purifying our bodies, we then purify our hearts by opening them up to the Flower of Life meditation. A technique which interconnects you on each plaines of your existance. No that is wrong-you are already connected. It is the cleaning of the window so that you may see through the glass. Joining the workshop as clean as a cucumber we find our selves in utter devotion. A connection to god through the chanting on the name of God. With Joy in our hearts and gladness on our face we sing and clap and sway in a room of 50, eyes closed faces upturned to the heavens.

I realized today that I am not in control. Nor have I ever been. I have been guided to a place where victory lies in your spirit through the connection to the greatness that is the oneness. Within this today I realized also-that the path to devotion can also lead to the lack of connection. And this too is also a tool. For the opportunities that arise from the disconnection, the feeling of lost can only strengthen the feeling of love and joy when you return to your rightful home in Love and God.

Than you JP for a most amazing weekend. I kept telling myself that this was all for you. What would I really do with a Kirtan workshop? But really it was all for me. Thank you for being the North Star that shines even when the sky is cloudy. I love you!