In just my two years of practicing yoga, I’ve become hyper-aware of the discussion around “detoxification” and “cleansing.” These two words are almost always used in such positive contexts by instructors and students alike, but for me, they just remind me of a dangerous calorie-counting/exercise obsession for a summer in college that led to a waif-like frame and perilous lack of energy.
From my experience, these words are used in two very distinct senses. One sense is in relation to spiritual detoxification and cleansing and/or the actual release of toxins from the body that comes from specific poses, like twists, etc. Another sense is in relation to removing impurities from the body by consuming raw fruits and vegetables (“juicing”), or other various rules to keep your body clean.
Before I continue, I want to clarify that I am all for eating a healthy diet and feeding our bodies with the nutrients it needs to live long and healthy. I also want to clarify that I’ve never participated in a regimented detox/cleanse of any sort (the type that provides you a guide of what you can and can’t eat). So, if these cleanses DO result in a greater amount of energy, increased self esteem, sustained weight loss, or any other potential benefits it can offer, I want to know! After all, the Hindu diet promotes this natural, simple living as the path to spiritual and physical purity.
I’m going to be blunt: I think yoga studios’ support of diet-related detoxes/cleanses has taken one step too many in the direction of extreme dieting. These juice diets comprising 3-4 jars of fruits and vegetables a day is hardly enough sustenance to go to work and be of use to anyone — let alone continue to work out regularly. I might be able to do it if I had the leisure of sleeping off hunger pangs all day, waking up for juice time and hitting the sack again.
I wonder if yoga studios’ support of these diets and cleanses is even a fit for U.S. culture. In a country where obesity is an epidemic, these cleanses can easily be taken out of context as a get slim quick scheme rather than as a prescribed lifestyle for greater spiritual and physical purity.
It also seems odd that the average yogi is already slim to begin with — is this really the target audience for these types of diets?
What are your thoughts on studios’ support of these cleanses? And have you tried one before?