sleep

10 Tips to Detox Daily

I'm currently in the middle of an annual spring cleanse with my mastermind group. I've come a long way from my first attempt to detox several years ago. My husband often reminds me of the day I bought a bag of lemons determined to do the master cleanse, and threw in the towel by 2pm on the first day.  

I didn’t give up though! I still yearned to clean up my diet and have healthier cravings (I.e. get over my sugar addiction). My second try was a more gentle detox of mainly fruits and veggies with a heavy emphasis on eating as many greens as possible.

After enduring the first few days without my favorite vices of caffeine, sugar and wine, I felt amazing. My energy shot through the roof, my taste buds came alive and I craved more greens, veggies and fruits. It felt great. 

Since then, every spring my body craves the reset. It's the best way to refine your diet, upgrade your food habits and let go of old addictions that you're ready to evolve out of. The best part of a detox is that every time you cleanse, your continue to eat a bit better and your health steadily improves. Each time a few of your detox habits stick and become an everyday reality.  

Below are some of the ways I detox daily. This doesn’t replace detoxing regularly, but does help counter a lot of the daily toxins we ingest in this day and age. 

  1. Inner bath: Drink at least 2 cups of warm water upon rising. Add a squeeze of lemon to make it more alkaline. Heat promotes downward movement through the stomach and intestines and supports elimination. 

  2. 18" every morning. That is 18" of fecal matter that has the consistency of peanut butter (pardon the visual!) one hour upon arising. If you are not pooping everyday this is a big problem. If you don't eliminate the junk, it gets reabsorbed back into your system. Get that *%#@ out!  (these everyday detox tips will help with this) 

  3. Sip hot water between meals. I've talked previously about the hazards of snacking. Stick to 3 meals a day to allow your body to fully digest your food. Undigested food is toxic and adheres to weak tissues which leads to disease. 

  4. Start your day with a green smoothie or green juice. Leafy greens have bitter and astringent tastes which are inherently detoxifying. In general, include as many leafy greens in your diet as possible: in green juices, smoothies, soups, salads, cooked, raw, etc. 

  5. Get your yoga on. Twist, bend, invert and breathe. Asana practice opens up the subtle energy channels or nadis which stimulates the lymphatic system and brings freshly oxygen into the organs. Try the class below.

  6. Meditate daily. In meditation we practice letting go of toxins in the form of negative thoughts, worry, anxiety, anger and fear – which can be more harmful than any bad food we might eat. 

  7. Dry brush. Dry-brushing activates the lymphatic system, stimulates blood circulation, and enhances toxin elimination through our body’s largest organ — the skin!  

  8. Love the skin you're in. Lotion is made of oil and water – a solution that doesn’t mix. In order to create the creamy texture, emulsifiers and preservatives are added which are often toxic. Basic tip: anything you put on your skin you should feel comfortable eating. Replace your lotion with oil (best quality coconut, almond, sesame, sunflower oil). Self-massage to increase circulation, stimulate the lymphatic system and remove toxins. 

  9. Eat clean and green. Processed and packaged food, refined sugar, alcohol and genetically-modified foods create toxicity. Eat a whole foods diet with plenty of fresh, organic produce to support your body in healthy elimination and optimal functioning. 

  10. Get enough good-quality sleepStudies show that your brain gets cleansed of toxins while you sleep. During deep sleep (prime hours are between 10pm and 2am) your body goes into detoxification mode. Make it easy on your body to do deeper house-cleaning by eating an earlier, lighter dinner. 

Our bodies are incredibly resilient and self-healing when we support it with the right tools and lifestyle practices. Incorporate these daily detox habits into your life and get your body in tip-top shape!

Immunity Boost - How to Build Your Ojas

Stress is an immunity-sucker. When we’re stressed we often don’t take good care of ourselves and are more likely to get sick. Also the busyness of this time of year can cause some of us to burn the candle at both ends and deplete our inner resources of energy – also known as ojas. Ojas is the Sanskrit word for “vigor”. It is the life-sustaining vitality that promotes immunity in the body. It is the fuel that sustains your physical body, brings clarity to the mind and balances the emotions. According to Ayurveda, ojas makes you healthy, well rested, light in body, clear in mind, energized, enthusiastic and centered. Building ojas is like filling up your gas tank and creating insulation from sickness and the holiday madness. Top tips for building ojas:

  • Eat pure, unprocessed, fresh, and seasonally and avoid heavy and difficult to digest foods
  • ojas
  • Daily exercise. Move your body for at least 20 minutes upon waking to clear the channels. It will also help with the next point:
  • Optimize digestion. Eat 2-3 meals a day and try not to snack in between. When you space your meals your body can completely digest your food and fully build up your digestive fire for your next meal. Fast on warm water between meals. When you eat, do so slowly, undistracted and while sitting in a calm setting. Include all 6 tastes. Here are my favorite winter salad recipes.
  • Daily meditation. Just as space is essential for food digestion, we also need space to digest mentally. Take time daily to sit in silence and connect to being-ness and learn how to not be sucked into the drama of your too-busy life. Start with one minute a day. Choose a point of focus such as your breath or a mantra. I recorded an intro to meditation here.
  • Self-massage for self-love. Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic practice of self-massage with oil. Oil is likened to love in Ayurveda. This nurturing practice insulates your nerves and is deeply grounding. Use the best quality sesame, sunflower, almond or coconut oil you can find.
  • Get enough sleep. How to here.
  • Go outside. I’m quite fair-weathered but I can’t deny that time in nature always nourishes and refreshes me – no matter what the temperature. I’m thankful for my daily walk to pick up my son from school – I probably wouldn't spend too much time outdoors if it wasn't for that. Find a way to spend some time in fresh air every day.
  • Love, laugh, play, serve others. Tis the season to connect, celebrate and give. Snuggle with your loved ones, reconnect with old friends and distant family, put on some Christmas music that doesn't suck and have an impromptu dance party or immerse yourself in a warm bath with candles. Take time daily to relax and enjoy this precious life.

Sweet dreams are made of this...

I love sleep. I've always been a good sleeper. On the other hand, when I don't get my 8 hours, I'm no fun. I know the first few years of my boys' lives were so challenging mostly because of the lack of adequate sleep. Besides being a miserable %*$@# - the negative effects of sleep deprivation are vast and include weakened immune system (increase in autoimmune issues), a decline in mental and physical performance, weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellness. What enough? Generally speaking, experts agree that 95 percent of adults need to sleep 7 to 9 hours each night to function optimally. And the best time to get that sleep is between the hours of 9pm and 6am. The hours before midnight count twice as much as the hours after.

Over the past few years of studying Ayurveda, I've come to understand more about sleep, how to set up the right conditions for restful sleep and the best times to get it. Below is your recipe for a good night's rest:

Avoid caffeine. If you must have your morning coffee, stick to one cup and don’t have any caffeine after noon. I recently gave up my nightly chocolate and noticed that I was tired much earlier than when I was having my after dinner sweet.  My new bedtime is 9pm and I LOVE IT.

Your bedroom should only be used for sleeping and sex. Make your bedroom dark, cool, quiet and relaxing. Remove any traces of work (phones included).

Power down an hour or two before bed. The light from computer screens, televisions, and phones can hinder the production of melatonin, which means your body isn't preparing the hormones it needs to enter the sleep phase. Don’t try to catch up on work at night as it can be too stimulating and increase your stress levels.

Eat an earlier, lighter dinner. Our bodies aren't equipped to digest large, heavy amounts of food late at night. Try to eat your biggest meal in the middle of the day when bile production is high (plan ahead to make this happen-this is a great recipe to ensure you have healthy, hearty lunches for the week), and try not to eat dinner or drink alcohol after 7pm.

Relax before bed. Lately I’ve been doing yoga nidra before bed and I sleep like a baby. Below is a 9 minute audio I made for you. I also give myself a foot massage every night once I get into bed. If you feel physically tense, try this 13 minute shoulder opening practice. A hot bath with some relaxing tunes or dip in the hot tub also does wonders for restful sleep.

Ayurvedic warm spiced milk. Try this natural sleep aid before bed: warm a cup of your favorite milk. Add a pinch of the following spices – cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and turmeric. Here’s another one. Savor…

Bed by 10. If you stay up past 10 you move into pitta time (element of fire and energy of digestion) and will get your “second wind” and most likely start to get hungry and partake in late night snacking – NOT GOOD! Also, if you're in bed by 10 you can get up by 6am. When you wake up after 6am you move into Kapha time, which is slow and heavy and you’ll have a much harder time getting out of bed. I've also found that if I get up early (recently 5:15), I’m not rushed and stressed in the morning and I have enough time to get everything done – including my morning yoga practice and daily meditation. And I'm much more fun to be around : )

Sweet dreams