As I come to the end of two weeks of traveling and surviving on trail mix, modified restaurant meals, and coffee, I’m due for a 3-day cleanse. But a menu of homemade fresh juices and smoothies will only be one component of my travel detox. After spending almost every day hiking with a heavy backpack, my fitness has started to feel unbalanced—and I’m craving my old friend yoga!
Although nothing sounds more refreshing than yoga and green juice, I’m reminding myself that it’s important to not overdo yoga during a cleanse—or any style of exercise for that matter. During your cleanse, mindfully approach your exercise routine, and remember that you may need to modify your fitness depending on the kind of cleanse you’re doing. The following are a few guidelines to help you safely and peacefully enjoy exercise while you’re cleansing. Plus, I cover a few of the ways a gentle yoga practice can actually enhance the benefits of your cleanse while making the whole process a bit more pleasant.
Yoga and juice were made for each other.
Practicing Yoga while on a Cleanse
Avoid Extended and Strenuous Sessions
Less fuel=gentler workout. The more restrictive your cleanse, the gentler your yoga (or any fitness routine) should be. Because your intake of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fats will likely be limited (especially if you’re on a liquid diet), your body won’t have the right resources to fuel you before, during, and after a long workout. For example, yoga that’s more cardiovascular will demand sugar for endurance and recovery, but chances are, you won’t be consuming the amount of carbs (sugar) that your body is used to getting. Alternatively, if your yoga session relies heavily on strength building, your body will require a protein-rich recovery meal that may not be within the bounds of your cleanse plan. When you don’t receive enough protein after strength building, your muscles will not recover as efficiently.
Less fuel=increased risk for injury. Because your body is likely receiving smaller quantities of macronutrients, you may be more prone to injury and strain. Various studies on Muslim athletes who are fasting during Ramadan while still participating in sports actives have demonstrated that combining fasting with strenuous exercise raises athletes’ risk of injury, fatigue, and muscle damage while reducing athletes’ ability to recover and adapt.
Opt for Gentle, Restorative Yoga
Fortunately, not all exercise is off limits during a cleanse! A slow, calming yoga practice is best suited for cleanse days because it doesn’t demand as much blood sugar for fuel, and it’s less likely to leave you feeling drained of energy. Try our 30-Minute Restorative and Cooling Yoga or these 10 Healing and Restorative Poses.
A peaceful practice may also help you cope with some of the more unpleasant side effects of cleansing, which may include mood swings, irritability, cravings, and headaches. Those who are on a cleanse may also experience a “detoxing” of emotions; sometimes a dramatic shift in the way we eat can dredge up buried memories or feelings. Yoga, which helps us turn our focus inward, is ideal for understanding and coping with these emotions in a healthy way.
Yoga Is Its Own Form of Cleansing
While all forms of exercise may assist the body’s natural detoxification process, yoga is particularly equipped to do so. Yoga instructor Witold Fitz-Simon explains that because most contemporary yoga styles involve stretching, up-ending, and compressing so many areas of the body, yoga is especially good at aiding the body’s removal of waste products–including carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and lymphatic fluid.
And let’s not forget yogic breathing. Simply sitting and mindfully breathing can aid the body’s natural detoxification. Amazingly, conscious breathing can improve energy efficiency, immunity, and insulin secretion (which affects the body’s ability to healthfully manage blood sugar). Proper breathing may also help us more efficiently break down and absorb nutrients in food (how perfect for a cleanse when every sip of juice or smoothie is bursting with nutrition!)
So there you have it—yoga and cleansing are a match made in holistic-living heaven!
Have you practiced yoga while on a cleanse? What are your tips for exercising while rebooting your diet?
More in Peaceful Practice: Does Yoga Give You Enough Cardio?
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Photos: @PittsburghJuice via Instagram, Annika Ihnat