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Many of you would agree that there’s no better feeling than emerging from a physically and mentally invigorating yoga class.
That’s because yoga engages your mind and body together as one, encouraging a complete detoxification that brings you health and happiness.
But what makes yoga such an effective detoxifier, and how can you get the most out of your practice?
To find out, we talked with David Swenson, one of the world’s premier Ashtanga teachers.
David is known for his down-to-earth, funny and accurate style of instruction.
Q. Can you tell us about ashtanga yoga and how it helps purify the digestive tract?
A. In ashtanga yoga, I don’t look at it only as the digestive tract. There’s the primary series, called “yoga therapy,” which is an overall tuning and toning of the body. Then here are the intermediate series and the final series.
There is heat in the practice of ashtanga yoga, and it acts as a cleansing agent. There’s sweating involved, which is a purifying thing, because you sweat to get toxins out of the body. There’s an internal fire we create [when we use the yogic Ujjayi breathing] during practice, which also has a cleansing effect. Also, when your muscles are warm, they are more malleable and tend to stretch more.
There’s a saying, “To rest is to rust.” When we don’t move out bodies, they start to shut down.
Think of it like you’re wringing out your muscles like dishtowels, squeezing and pushing the toxins out of the body.
Q. During yoga practice, we’re often told to pay attention to our breath. Why is breath so important?
A. Your body does not function well if it’s not getting enough oxygen. In ashtanga yoga, the whole focus is on deep breathing, which also helps digestion.
Breath accompanies movement in ashtanga yoga and combines to form a powerful force called vinyasa. When you synchronize movement and breath, you marry the internal and external aspects of your yoga practice and your life.
Q. How does breath affect stress and digestion?
A. Your digestion is certainly affected by stress. When your breathing is strained, it makes it hard for your body to digest. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is just one example of how stress can affect your digestive system.
By focusing on the breath, it’s going to bring relaxation and calm. Breathing deeply is like a soothing balm for your nervous system.
Q. Everyone is so busy these days. They may wonder, how do I find the time? Since you travel so much, how do you maintain your yoga practice?
A. I’ve traveled my whole life – I travel about 300 days a year and have been doing so for the past 20 or so years.
It’s not always easy to fit it in, but I practice in odd places such as hotel rooms and between sessions during yoga conferences.
When I practice, life is easier, and when I don’t, life is more difficult. Yoga is a tool for self-improvement. We do it because it helps us feel better. But anything of value in life is going to require an element of self-control. And the benefits far outweigh the difficulty.
One suggestion is to join your local yoga studio. The world needs yoga communities, and I bow down to those communities because they offer such a great service. Practicing with others can motivate you to show up and stick with it.
Q. Yoga is so popular today and studios offer many different styles. Has your style changed?
A. My teaching is the same, but the number of the people in the classes has changed. The message is the same, but the numbers are bigger.
I have no idea how yoga got so big, and we can’t predict what will happen. Some of it will stick, and some won’t. There are different strata of yoga. But what will it be 50, 100 years from now? That’ll test the validity of the system.
Some people say yoga has become more superficial. But in many ways, it almost doesn’t matter why someone comes to yoga. If they really practice, it’ll change them. Something shifts inside, and you learn more about yourself. People who do it as a fad can only do it so long for that reason.
Are you confused by the vast array of information on detoxification? If you are new to cleansing or want to deepen your understanding of the best steps to detoxify naturally, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in the Body Ecology Detoxification Training Program with Donna Gates and her team of top medical and natural health experts.
Q. How are yoga and healthy eating related to one another?
A. You can practice with a lousy diet and probably not know the difference, if that’s all you’ve ever known.
But when you start yoga, you tend to notice that some foods make you feel heavier and some make you feel lighter. There’s a transition period as you’re becoming more aware of the body and how it reacts to different foods. People figure out what they need to eat on their own.
Detox is necessary for living, but we should also live in a way that we’re not putting so many toxins in our body. Put wholesome food in the body to maintain strength and vitality. The less [processing] that happens between food being harvested and putting it in your mouth, the more vitality is has.
When we feel clogged up and sluggish, that’s when we should detox.
The type of detox someone is doing will affect their energy output and ability to move. If you’re fasting, you’re not going to have much energy, but it’s sill important to move a little with yoga.
If you want to start a healthy eating plan, like the Body Ecology diet, do your research and take it slowly. See how it goes. Then build it up, try one week in a month, see how it goes. Then try on one month in a year…ease into it and make the transition slowly and you’re probably going to integrate it more realistically into your life.
Q. Any tips for achieving health and happiness?
A. It is very easy to make things difficult, and very difficult to make things easy. My advice is, don’t make things so hard. One way to do that is to find a way to make it enjoyable. Drudgery and loathing won’t work.
Keep a positive attitude and align yourself with the things you value and believe in, and from that you can find happiness.
Are you ready to detoxify and create your own healthy eating plan?
Yoga is one of the best ways to detoxify your body. By combining deep breathing with movement and a still, calm mind, you may find you finish your practice feeling invigorated and renewed!
The same can be said about how you feel when you focus on detoxification.
It used to be that detoxification was only for people who were feeling ill or possibly facing addiction recovery. These days, however, almost everyone suffers from a toxic body because of chronic stress, poor diet and environmental toxins in our 24/7 world.
If you want to learn the secrets to healthy and effective cleansing, check out Body Ecology’s Detoxification Training.
In this exclusive training program, Body Ecology founder Donna Gates and her team of medical and natural health experts reveal the secrets you need to know about how to look younger and feel better with natural detoxification!
Our modern lifestyles are susceptible to more toxins than ever before. After listening to this enlightening, 11-hour class series, you’ll be well prepared to restore your health. You’ll look better and feel better. Learn more about how to participate in this life-changing training program from the comfort of your own home.
To learn more about David Swenson, including where to take his classes and his yoga tips, visit his website, www.ashtanga.net.
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