Around this time of year, you seem to begin to hear more about "spring detoxes," "spring cleaning," and, "cleansing." Even non-yogis are hailing kale and dropping the "cleanse" buzzword. So what does it all mean? Where does the special focus come from and why this time of year?
Cleanliness, or purity, is an ongoing part of the yoga system. Patanjali calls our attention to it in sutra 11.40: "Purity protects one's body and brings nonphysical relationships with others." According to T.K.V. Desicachar, the word tapas in the yogic system means, "Something we do in order to keep us physically and mentally healthy; a process of inner cleansing. We remove things we do not need."
For those of us who had a cold winter, spring is when Mother Nature's sunny smile makes things defrost and blossom; the maple syrup runs, we shed boots, scarves, hats and sweaters. We reorganize our closets to find our lighter clothing. We often have runny noses, allergies are irritated with all the pollen in the air, and the body tries to decongest itself of excess mucous.
Some students and friends have been telling me they're exhausted, their joints hurt, and they're feeling completely lazy. You don't have to call it "cleansing" or feel like a hot toxic mess, but you may want to change up a few things to keep that spring in your step and the purity in your yoga practice. Here are seven things to be mindful of as we transition from one season to the next.
Add more greens and fresh food to your menu (pizza is not your boyfriend, so just date it once a week).
Twists and forward bends tone the liver; walking outside to get some fresh air, listening to the birds and watching the new budding flora tone the spirit.
Go to sleep a little earlier in order to wake up rejuvenated.
Make friends with a Neti-pot.
Journal to get all these lurking negative emotions OUT.
Spruce up your closet and give what you don't need to charity.
Giving yourself a little extra support during any transition is a positive act. Just keep in mind that beyond all the recipes for detoxing is the system of yoga itself, which supports maintaining nourishing habits and self-reflection throughout the year. No matter how green you eat, if you're not in touch with yourself emotionally, you won't be able to rest and digest.