Yoga is not just asana (postures). There are actually eight limbs (or parts) to the practice. The first limb, Yama, refers to five abstentions. They are non-violence, truth in word and thought, non-covetousness, non-possessiveness and abstinence. This week I am focusing on abstinence – or I am doing so for five days. I am on a juice cleanse with six friends from work.
Brahmachayra is technically abstinence from sex for those who are not married or faithfulness to one’s spouse if you are married. This is not a challenge – well, not for me as I am married. I love my husband and have no plans to cheat on him. But food, carbs – this is a way for me to challenge myself. It is meant to be a form of self-restraint and let me tell you, walking past coffee shops filled to bursting with yummy treats is one of the harder things I have ever done. And I have completed the NYC Marathon. Brahmacharya is to be understood as the voluntary restraint of power – drinking nothing but juice is teaching me that carbohydrates have a STRONG power over me.
So beyond practicing one of the other yoga “limbs” why would one do a cleanse? For me, I really do like that it is a personal challenge. I like that it it difficult. I like the sense of accomplishment at the end of the five days – I have done this twice before. I like that it shows me just how dependent I truly am on things like sugar and caffeine. At least the “mylks” are good – coconut and cashew/hemp.
Medically, the idea is that the body spends a lot of energy on digesting food. When we stop eating solids, the organs are freed up allowing blood and energy to move to other parts of the body. It allows your body to attend to things that could otherwise be neglected. In my experience, the true cleanse of the body begins on day two. Relieved of their usual digestive responsibility, your body’s enzymes will begin moving around the body digesting damaged, dead, dying and diseased cells. Lovely.
I was in Bikram yoga not too long ago when a woman almost passed out because she was trying to take class while on the Master Cleanse. That shit is legit cray. One of my friends who is on the cleanse with me is going to try yoga tomorrow. I taught a friend yoga this morning and that was hard enough. Two other friends/fellow cleansers are meant to play tennis tomorrow morning – I wish them luck. Me, I’m just concentrating on my cleanse and allowing that to be the thing I do for my body this week. And my daily posture challenge, of course.
It’s hard – I won’t lie. I wish I had a doughnut in front of me right now instead of a Turmeric Tonic – ack! But it’s good to challenge yourself from time to time. Truly challenge yourself – abstain from something you love. Besides, bikini season is coming soon!