Essential Detoxification & Cleansing Practices

Yogis have been performing cleansing techniques since ancient times.

Many Kriyas (cleansing actions) precede Asanas (yoga poses).

Wikipedia Common Images

Regular periodic detoxification is not only important, it is critical for a healthy lifestyle.  See "Why Cleanse" in the right-hand bar for more info. 

Harmful chemicals trigger imbalances in the body because they are not compatible with the body's chemistry.

Environmental toxins lower our immune defense, as our bodies must struggle more and more against higher toxic levels.

The reason toxins are so dangerous is because the body does not know how to break them down and get rid of them on its own.

The chemicals accumulate, getting stored in the soft tissues, organs, and bones. Our bodies become storehouses of heavy metals and other environmental pollutants.

Some people have such high levels of mercury, arsenic, and lead that they are actually radio-active.

What happens to our immune defense against such common diseases as cancer, asthma, and diabetes?

The immune function is not strong enough to resist.

The body systems have to deal with such intense toxic overloads that they begin to shut down.

How to Detoxify Safely

Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent toxins from building up in our bodies, and release existing toxicities.

Various cleansing methods exist in many cultures:

Native American sweat lodges and vision quests, Christian fasts, Russian and Finish saunas, and Turkish baths are all examples of such healthy rituals.

Personally, I have grown up visiting 'Banya' every Saturday in Siberia.

It's an old Russian tradition to bathe in a sauna (banya) at the end of the week. We use pine oils to scent the air and bunches of soft birch-tree branches to 'whip' the skin to get the toxins out.

It's a lot of fun, especially in the winter, as you can jump into a pile of snow before you get too cold.

# Sweat Three Times a Week

Perspiration is a natural way that our body detoxifies itself.

1. Determine what activities you can perform each week that could make you sweat profusely.

Sweat through exercise or by going to a sauna. Preferably both.

In many cultures, sweating is a treatment of the first onset of cold/flu symptoms.

Sauna, or steam room, is great once or twice a week.

Sweating is limited in terms of the range of toxins that can be released, but must not be avoided altogether, if you want to maintain optimal health.

# Drink plenty of fluids

"Dilution is Solution to Pollution".

Drink Fluids for Detoxification

Drink water, teas, and vegetable juices.

This recommendation DOES NOT include coffee, milk (any kind), fruit juice, or soda drinks. All of these are too acidic: either dehydrating (coffee), toxic (soda), sugary (fruit juice), and overly processed (soy milk).

Roughly, drink six to eight 8-oz glasses a day, depending on the amount of exercise and sweating you engage in.  

Drink mostly before 7pm. That is when the Kidneys take their turn to rest according to the Chinese Organ Meridian Body Clock.

You don't want to overload the Kidneys. But on a more practical note, you don't want to get up at night to go to the bathroom.

# Go to sleep at 10pm

Between 10pm and 2am is the most healing and detoxifying time to sleep.

During this crucial time, our body does the most cell-repair and cell-rejuvenation, getting rid of toxins within the cells.

If we go to sleep at 1am or later, we miss out on this natural anti-aging habit.

# Breathe through the nose. Not through the mouth.

The mouth is designed by nature for eating and talking.

The nose is designed for breathing: warming, filtering/detoxifying, and moistening the air to prepare it for the lungs.

If we breathe through the mouth, we miss out on this important filtering mechanism, and the pollutants get into the lungs.

This alone can cause a high level of toxicity in our bodies.

A research study shows a connection between mouth-breathing and breast cancer in women.

If we breathe through the nose, many pollutants get stopped in the mucous membranes of the nasal passages and get carried to the digestive system where they are broken down and carried out of the body.

# Practice Neti Cleanse

Neti Pot

Have you ever got water in your nose when swimming in the ocean?

Do you remember how the salt water cleans out your nose better than anything else?

Nasal wash, or Jala Neti, does just that. This is an old yogic practice that can easily be incorporated into your daily life.

For details, check out other Yoga Shatkarmas. Neti is one of the six traditional Yogic Cleanses. 

# Brush your teeth and cleanse your tongue in the morning

Remove the white coating (toxins) which accumulates overnight.

Use a tooth brush or a tongue cleanser.

# Drink a shot of wheatgrass juice or a glass of green vegetable juice every day

Wheatgrass Juice for Detoxification

Wheatgrass juice is a miracle food that is renowned for its detoxification properties mainly due to its high antioxidant power.

It also contains the full spectrum of the essential amino acids and many other nutrients.

# Supply your body with a full range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

Ideally from fresh organic foods - they are the best internal detoxifiers. 

Go for:
- fresh vegetables and their juices (like wheatgrass);
- whole fruits and berries;
- sprouted grains and seeds; and
- seaweed.

Certain chemicals, like heavy metals, accumulate in the body.

Vitamins and minerals bind, or attach, themselves to these chemicals and chelate them (take them out of) the body.

That is why the urine may look darker, or more yellow, with nutritional supplement use.

Some antioxidants and minerals are more detoxifying than others. It's best to take a full complex of them to get the best results as different vitamins support each other's functions.

For more information about antioxidants and for a detailed list of foods containing antioxidants, please visit Antioxidants.

# Get massage/bodywork once a month

Different types of massage improve circulation, lymphatic flow, and help detoxify the body. 

In addition to detoxification, one receives many other benefits from bodywork: 

  • stress relief
  • muscle tension relief
  • skeletal alignment
  • myo-fascial/connective tissue release

What a wonderful way to detoxify your blood and relax the nervous system at the same time!

Best done periodically (once or twice a month) to get consistent results.

# Perform a mini-fast

Regular 24-hour or 36-hour fasts are safe and effective detoxification strategies.

More detailed information and how-to on Fasting for Detoxification.

Common Detoxification Systems

1. Colon Hydrotherapy
Also known as Colon Cleansing, or Intestinal Cleansing, this is a popular Western alternative approach to detoxifying the body through the cleansing of the intestinal tract.

2. Fasting
A common detoxification method among many spiritual, religious, and cultural traditions.

Fasting has gained huge popularity in the West in the last few decades.

For more information, please visit the Fasting page.

3. Pancha Karma
Ayurvedic detoxification system. It involves five different treatments aimed at fully detoxifying the body (and mind).

Get a detailed description of Ayurveda Pancha Karma.

4. Yoga Shatkarma
In the yoga tradition, purification practices are called Yoga Shatkarma.

These are six areas of detoxification, one of which is Neti Cleanse mentioned above. 

Only a few of them have gotten popularity in the modern world.

Most of these ancient practices remain exotic and neglected by the vast majority of yoga practitioners.

Get a detailed description of the Yoga Shatkarmas.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are based upon the opinions, research, and experiences of Surya (Slava Kolpakov), unless otherwise noted. The information on this website is not intended to treat, prescribe, diagnose, or replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or yoga therapist and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.