03/10/2015 Mind-Body Health
If you don't already have a daily detox routine, spring is a great time to adopt one. Here are five things you can do to make yourself feel lighter and more energized as you head into the warmer months.
Spring and fall are important times of the year to detoxify, according to Ayurveda. A spring detox is especially important as an antidote for the excesses of the winter (think holidays).
To maintain health and balance in the long run, however, Ayurveda also recommends a daily detox protocol. If you don’t yet have one, spring is the best time to put one in place. Incorporate these five detox tips into your daily life to feel lighter and energized as you head into the warmer months.
Scrape Your Tongue
Use a tongue scraper first thing in the morning, before you brush your teeth. Ayurveda recommends tongue scraping to help boost the health of the oral cavity, including the teeth and sinuses, and to aid digestion. Digestion begins in the mouth as saliva mixes with the food and breaks it down. An excessively thick coating indicates the presence of Ama or toxins in the digestive system. Use a high-quality U- or V-shaped stainless steel or copper tongue scraper.
How to use a traditional tongue scraper:
- Hold each end with your hands and reach the arch to the back of your tongue, going as far back as possible without gagging.
- Scrape forward several times, rinsing the white film off of the scraper between each scraping. Be gentle but firm as you scrape.
- Rinse your mouth with water.
- Clean and dry your scraper with water. You may want to occasionally use baking soda to disinfect.
Drink Warm Water With Lemon
Start your morning with a glass of hot water and the juice of half a lemon or lime. This will cleanse your digestive tract and perhaps initiate a bowel movement (if you don’t normally eliminate first thing in the morning) to the get the toxins out of your digestive tract. The sour taste will enkindle the digestive fire or Agni setting you up for good digestion and metabolism first thing in the morning.
Use Herbs and Spices to Improve Digestion and Metabolism
Drink warm herbal teas throughout the day. Cinnamon, ginger, fennel, and mint are good options. You should also cook your food with liberal doses of herbs and spices. Use culinary herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, and oregano, and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mint, sage, and parsley in generous amounts.
Dry Brush Your Skin
Dry skin brushing has long been a part of Ayurveda’s cleansing philosophies. Your skin is an organ of elimination, just like your kidneys, liver, and colon. Dry skin brushing helps keep the pores clear and the skin active to assist the body in this cleansing process. It also helps to increase blood circulation. Dry brushing exfoliates the skin’s outer layer and stimulates the sweat and oil glands, providing more moisture for the skin.
How to dry skin brush:
- Dry brush first thing in the morning before you shower. Start with light pressure and then move on to firmer strokes.
- Use a natural bristled brush, loofah, or raw silk gloves.
- Start with the soles of your feet using swift upward strokes. Brush from the feet up the legs, working toward your heart.
- Next, move to your hands and work up your arms toward your heart in the same manner.
- Brush your back, as best you can, using a long handle brush.
- Work on your abdomen, moving in a clockwise direction to follow the movement of the colon, then do the chest and neck.
- Avoid dry brushing your face as facial skin is too sensitive.
- Brush for about 3 to 5 minutes until your skin is slightly tingly.
- Shower after you dry brush to wash off the dead skin.
- Periodically wash your brush with warm soap and water.
Using warm dosha-specific oil, perform self-massage or Abhyanga 2 to 3 times a week. Massaging the entire body with warm oil helps improve circulation, activate the lymphatic system, and aid in detoxification. Note that you should only perform self-massage on the days you do not dry brush.
Instead of adopting all five of these practices at once, you can incorporate one per week during the first few weeks of spring. If you take the time to turn each action into a habit, it will be easier to stick with your detox routine throughout the entire year.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.