November 17, 2013

Seven Day Chakra Karma Cleanse

Today, Sunday, marks the final day of a seven day cleanse for me.

Since Monday, I've been hitting a 6 am (eep!) Kundalini yoga class led by Marcia Vallier. And my only nourishment has been a selection of juices, broths, and elixers supplied by Karma Cleanse in Bloomfield.  It's been an interesting week, with a lot of self (re)discovery / realization. Some initial thoughts.

Juice Cleanse

This was a good program for me - I'm not good at food prep and managing / preparing this sort of thing. So I'd be more than likely to step back from the cleanse for lack of an ingredient, or a tool (like a juicer), or a simply laziness / fatigue. But  Alicia at Karma Cleanse brought us a "six-pack" of bottles each day (supplemented by fresh solid food today) - typically three juices, two "healing broths" and an herbal tea. So there was nothing to prepare - just open the freshly juiced / brewed concoction and consume, clean the bottle, and return the next day. Just my speed.

The juices were aligned to the seven chakra's (each day's practice focused on a particular chakra) - so on Day #1 we had a red beet based juice, Day #2 was a carrot based, Day #3 was a delicious pineapple (with cayenne for kick!), Day #4 was green (apple?), Day #5 was blueberry based. It seemed a little forced to me (choosing a product based on "chakra color" rather than cleansing properties) although I was willing to suspend disbelief for the duration. Regardless of the sequence, the variety was most welcome and all of the juices were pleasant, flavorful, and nourishing.  In addition, each mid-day juice was a mixed greens juice (little less sweet, very nourishing).

The healing broth was delicious and warming, and the last few days has included a small amount of quinoa, a welcome addition. And the teas varied - lemongrass, ginger, etc. and were tasty either cold or warm. I'm not sure I can afford (nor logistically manage) a regular integration of the Karma Cleanse products into my diet, but I'd certainly pick up a few days worth for an occasional short cleanse. A very high quality product, well packaged and marketed, and quite tasty and refreshing.

Kundalini Yoga

I've said it before, and I will say it again - Kundalini Yoga drives me crazy. It would not be my first choice for a cleanse or series. Mostly, I feel as if I move into my body / spine with quick, jerky motions long before I am really warm and even when warm it feels a bit rough / risky. In addition, the various arm positions crank right into shoulder injuries and limitations. So I spent the week working through and around a lot of stuff related to the practice, but really I had no problems with it.

What I *do* like about Kundalini is the internal / spiritual practice (lot of time to pause and go inward), the chanting / singing, the energetic aspects. And I adore Marcia as a teacher and a person - with my recent shoulder limitations and various other ailments / struggle, I've stayed away from her power classes, so it was a treat to work with her for a week straight. And as much as I growled about 6 am yoga (usually via humorously cranky Facebook updates), I am in truth a morning person and driving home at 7:15 am with the day in front of me was a good feeling.

Personal Observations

I was surprisingly not all that miserable throughout the cleanse. Monday was a tough day - low grade headache, fatigue, crankiness. I got through the morning yoga and my 9 am class, and then spent a lot of the day vegging out and watching Netflix (Ken Burns' Civil War, for the second time, for those interested).

The rest of the week I was surprisingly not suffering serious detox symptoms. I was low energy most of the week (I compared it to going into hibernation) and fortunately work was kind of slow - so I picked off the things that came in, took a few meetings, but did not push ahead any big projects. Worked for me. I think that I was not all that "detoxy" because the juice based cleanse was high enough in sugars (fruit based) and while my past habits have been pretty horrible in terms of gluten, dairy, fast / fried food, sugar-free sodas, giving my body a regular dose of higher quality sugars made me happy enough. That suspicion was supported by my hamstrings (which got pretty tight during the cleanse week, although they have eased off a bit). The past few days I've been a little light-headed, not really dizzy, just a little floating.

I totally blew off regular yoga this week - spending some time on the mat prior to teaching but not doing any formal classes - because I felt like I needed the break, and that feels like the right decision. Going to hit a class this afternoon, although not a hot / power class quite yet.

So what does it all mean to me? When it comes to healthy eating / food / nutrition, I've been through everything, often twice: mindful based eating, detox cleanse, a week at Kripalu doing a healthy eating workshop, a juice cleanse (with betamite clay for colon clearing), Weight Watchers. (and in the case of the whole foods heavy WHY Teacher Training, 4 times, once as a trainee, thrice as an assistant) - so it's not about information - it's mostly will and getting past psychological and emotional blocks. Mostly, I'm planning to use this week as a line of demarcation - trying to lose bad habits (pre-cleanse) and develop some good habits (post-cleanse) - the cleanse gives me a little bit of space and perspective that a "starting Monday morning I'm going to change" approach, or a "small incremental changes" approach have so far failed to provide.

One thing that became clear, this week as well as in a previous detox cleanse, was how much I use my meals as the tent pole "structure" and reward of my daily life. Being self employed and tending towards a bit of introversion, I could go entire days with zero human contact other than when I am teaching or visiting the studio to practice. So the simple interaction of a restaurant worker or check-out person becomes a kind of precious daily contact for me. I need desperately to put in place some other mechanisms for human contact that do not involve purchasing (usually unhealthy) food.

My plan going forward: I'm going to ease back into real food - picking up some organic broths and soups and continuing that for at least one daily meal. While I do not feel particularly sensitive to things like dairy, gluten, etc. I'm planning to switch to a rice based mild substitute for the small bits of dairy I use, and to work with healthy grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa) as a meal base. I'm not going vegetarian, but I do plan to cut back on animal protein, and use more beans. And of course, working with more fresh veggies (green and otherwise) and fruits. I'll still eat crap on occasion but the emphasis here is "on occasion" - 1-2 meals a week, either socially or when my schedule keeps me away from home at meal times.

In summary: a really positive experience - totally manageable, realistic, and enriching. While my sundry and myriad aches, pains, injuries and limitations remain active, I do feel lighter, brighter, and more positive. With 2014 teacher training coming up in two short months, I'm motivated to eat healthier, strengthen my asana practice, and get healthier. Let's see where things go from here....

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