When I first started doing seasonal detoxes, about eight years ago, it was still a relatively fringe thing to do. A good portion of my yoga friends were doing it, but my more mainstream friends would ask, “Why on earth would you want to do that to yourself?” When I joined my first group detox, I recall my husband asking, “You mean, you’re paying someone to torture you?”
These days, detoxing is more mainstream, but it’s still not well understood. It’s still looked at as deprivation, even by most people who do it. Many go into a detox with the attitude of, “This is going to suck, but it’s good for me, so I’ll do it. And I can’t wait until it’s over!”
Then, there is the I don’t feel toxic, so why should I detox? camp. Fair enough question.
I’ll try to explain why detoxing is awesome and why everyone should do it.
My two detox mantras are as follows:
Rejuvenation, not Deprivation
It’s not All About the Food
A detox is an opportunity to fully rejuvenate yourself. To wind down and dial back all aspects of your life, for a short period of time. When you detox, you give your digestion a break, by feeding yourself easy-to-digest, non-irritating foods and often (but not always) reduced calorie intake.
Aligning with seasonal rhythms, is something that for millennia, we didn’t have a choice about. We were essentially forced to detox in the spring, because we ran out of food. Whatever was saved from last harvest was dwindling, and the first harvests of Summer were still a long way off. Maybe this is why so many religions, both ancient and modern have fasting, or giving up something during the spring season.
In Ayurveda, the term for this seasonal alignment is ritucharya. If you’re into yoga or have studied Ayurveda at all, you are probably familiar with the term dinacharya, which translates to daily habits. We also need to align and shift our habits with the seasons.
As we emerge from winter, there is often an urge to lighten up both our bodies and our spaces. A detox is like a spring cleaning for our bodies and emotions. It’s about deep self-nurturance and deep self care. It’s about releasing the heavy qualities of winter and allowing yourself to lighten up, both physically and emotionally for summer. This may or may not involve weight-loss. If you want to lose some weight, a detox will definitely help you with that. If you don’t need or want to drop any weight, don’t let that stop you from detoxing. You can clear out the gunk without dropping a pound.
A spring detox can involve detoxing your space, your emotions, your relationships. Take time for yourself, get out in nature, take a break (or limit) screen time and social media. We all can’t take time off work and go on retreat, but we can slow down just a little bit, practice mindfulness and be good to ourselves. Take some time to reflect on what is working in your life and what is not. How can you shift into more ease?
I’m involved with two detoxes this spring. We’ve got a local one here in Kohler, at Yoga on the Lake. And, of course, I’m down with Yogahealer’s Yogidetox for the ninth time (I think). I encourage you to check out and jump into either of these, or play with detoxing on your own.
You’ll come out of it glad that you did.