I’m doing a cleanse at the moment and after I mentioned this on Twitter a few people asked me about my cleanse. So here it is, super simple.
Here’s the thing: If it’s complicated, I won’t do it.
If I keep it simple, simple, simple – then I’m much more likely to be able to stick with it.
And my number one secret for motivating yourself on a cleanse? Don’t do a cleanse for any reason other than to love your body.
I’m human. I have moments when I disrespect my body. There are times when I eat foods that just don’t suit me, when I have too many glasses of wine in a weekend, when I sleep too little and worry too much. All these moments add up to toxins in my body that, whether I recognize it or not, are limiting my ability to see, think and act clearly.
So every now and then I know it’s time to give my body some serious loving with a cleanse.
Here’s what my cleanse involves.
1. Lots of water and juice.
I start my day with a cup of hot (not too hot) water with slices of fresh ginger and the juice of one lemon. You can add a dash of apple cider vinegar as well.
About an hour later I start drinking juice.
I have a juicer and I highly recommend investing in a juicer if you possibly can. If I ever go back to work in a place like Afghanistan again, I’ll be taking a juicer with me.
The trick with juice is to go heavy on the vegetables and light on the fruit. Leafy green vegetables are especially good for cleansing, as are beetroot and ginger. My typical morning juice includes celery (with leaves), broccoli greens and stalks, beetroot, ginger, carrot and one orange.
I make a big juice and sip on it through the morning. If I’m traveling for work I make the juice in advance and carry it in a thermos. It’s best fresh, but it can keep overnight if that’s going to help me stick with my cleanse.
2. Raw veggies and whole grains
During my cleanse I eat lots and lots of raw veggies – and that doesn’t mean just salads. I chop up raw broccoli, fennel and red cabbage and mix them with sprouted peas, beans and broccoli greens for a hearty veggie mix.
Personally, I need some grains as well – although I know plenty of people who stick just to vegetables for a short cleanse. So I cook up pots of brown rice and quinoa and mix them in with the chopped raw vegetables for lunch and dinner.
I season this mix with brown rice vinegar, lemon juice, really good quality oils and a little seaweed. Yum!
When I need a bit of variety I make a yummy fresh salsa and guacamole and eat them with raw vegetable sticks or on organic cornbread. Double yum!
What I miss most when I’m eating raw is hummus, but you can make raw hummus by sprouting rather than cooking the chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Try it! It’s different to ‘normal’ hummus but still very tasty.
3. Snacks and drinks
I drink as much herbal tea as I want and once a day I boil up a pot of dandelion roots for a ‘coffee substitute’ which is also a great cleanser. I add a little bit of soymilk to my dandelion root.
For snacks I eat raw nuts (steer clear of roasted or salted) and the occasional banana. I try to keep my fruit intake lower on this cleanse because many fruit are so high in sugars and part of the intent of the cleanse is to give my system a break from sugar. But if I have a yoga class to teach and I can feel my blood sugars dipping, I’ll grab a banana and a handful of raw almonds.
For a treat, I pour myself a glass of kombucha (I make my own) in a wine glass. Heh. I guess along with hummus, I miss wine. What can I say. I’m human.
4. Baths and scrubs
During a cleanse I like to take Epsom salt baths and to do dry skin scrubbing. I scrub my dry skin with a loofah before getting in the shower. This is a great compliment to the internal cleansing.
If you can, I’d also recommend treating yourself to a massage as part of your cleanse. It makes a great alternative to treating yourself with food. Enjoy.
5. Cleansing yoga practices
My favorite cleansing yoga practices are Kapalabati breath and twists, so I add these into my daily practice while I’m cleansing. Kapalabati is also a practice for stoking the internal fires (and great for stimulating a sluggish metabolism). I find it can increase my natural fiery-ness a little more than I need, so I like to balance it with Nadi Shodana – alternate-nostril breath, a practice all about balance.
If you’ve never tried yogic breathing practices before (called ‘pranayama‘), I highly recommend them. They’ve changed my life! I include kapalabati and nadi shodhana in many of the practices I choose for people doing my 30 days of yoga course and I get more feedback about them than almost anything else. Breathing is where yoga begins and ends.
I do this anywhere from a week to a month. If I’m going for a longer cleanse then I give myself a break every Saturday night and choose something that’s not on the cleanse which I think I would enjoy. Usually I choose a thin-crust wood-fired pizza (vegan and gluten-free) and a glass or two of the best wine in the cellar!
If your regular diet is heavy on dairy, meat, caffeine, sugar, wheat or alcohol then this cleanse may feel quite intense for the first few days. Be sure to be very gentle with yourself. The first time I did it, back when I was still drinking caffeine, I found day four quite a challenge. These days my ‘normal’ diet is not so different from the cleanse so I don’t feel the dramatic changes any more, but I still get a little light-headed on day three or four. Take it easy if you can, and know that it will pass. On the other side is an incredible clarity, which makes the little bit of effort more than worthwhile.
Any one have any questions?