A very important topic of discussion in the world we currently call our home. ‘Detox’-The process of
removal of toxins from the body isn’t a new discovery or recent innovation. It’s a process that our
body is naturally designed to do. Then why so much emphasis on it and why now? Well, that’s
because right from the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the stress we face there are toxins
surrounding us, and we absorb them.
The very thought of considering a detox retreat probably means that your body is showing
symptoms of toxicity like lethargy, fatigue, allergies, insomnia, weight gain, hormone imbalance and
so on. With a growing need for detoxification as an outcome of our modern day lifestyles, a number
of different types of detox programs have emerged in the market. Some are based only on diet;
some are a combination of exercise and workout while some are inclusive of both.
Generally, exercise and diet are the most common things which everyone has in mind when health
lifestyle is mentioned. Eating a healthy diet accompanied by the right exercise is perfect and you will
see the benefits. However, can exercise and detox go hand in hand? Is it effective? Does exercise
improve the detox, or does it interfere with the detox process? Is exercise only enough for the body
to detox? Is there a certain type of exercise suggested for detox? WOW!!! That’s a lot of
Let’s find some answers—Firstly, let’s look at exercise—Why do we exercise and what are the benefits?
Exercise can be defined as any group activities that works your muscles & burns body calories. It
generally involves physical activity & increase in heart rate. The kind of exercise you do should vary
and ensure every part of the body is involved. Be sure to perform the exercise correctly and give
yourself a warm-up and cool down after every session. There are numerous benefits of regular
exercises like control in weight, reduction in risk of heart diseases, blood sugars & insulin levels,
strengthens the bones and muscles, improves mood, and so on. As a means to detox, yes cardio
exercises especially yoga, walking, running, swimming etc. stimulate the detox pathways, improve
circulation, thereby reduce the toxic load on the body.
Let’s look at Detox next—What is detox? How does the body detox? What are the benefits of Detox?
Detox is the process of removal of toxins from the body. Toxins enter our body through various
sources like food, water, air & emotions. Our body has a natural mechanism by which it eliminates
the toxins through organs like liver, kidneys & skin. But the problem is when we overload the body
with so many toxins, that it can no longer eliminate it, the body starts storing these toxins in the
form of adipose tissue or fat. Various symptoms like allergies, weight gain, fatigues start showing
up. This is the time when we generally think of detox though as a preventive aspect it should be
done at least once a year.
The various benefits of a detox include improvement in digestive functions, clarity of skin, increase
in energy, reduction in various symptoms of toxicity and so on. Now let’s see how detox actually
happens in the body—Naturally when we eat food, it is digested, and the end products nutrients and waste/toxins are eliminated. This process of digestion, assimilation & elimination takes up at least 30-40% of the total
energy/calories in the body. During the detox, the person is kept on light easily digestible foods or
liquid diets which reduces the energy consumption by the digestive system.
The excess energy now can be used by the body for removing the stored toxins from the body during the detox process. It is very important that there is complete relaxation as it is an absolute necessity for the body to initiate and complete the process of detox. Any activity which requires higher amount of energy will inhibit the process of detox and thereby the toxins are not expelled from the body properly.
Now back to the question can we exercise during detox?
There are various views on this topic. One of the views is that exercise stimulates the sweat glands to produce more sweat and thereby aids in detox, but then exercises utilises a large amount of energy that means that the body may not relax which is contraindicated when on a detox retreat.
This means that exercise could inhibit the process of detox to a large extent. But it is never a one size fits all story and hence, it is also advisable to listen to your body about its requirement for exercise or rest. During detox, the body goes into the process of self-healing and if you listen properly, it will provide clues on what you can and cannot do.
For example, I am feeling quiet energetic today and might go for a swim or you might feel drained and not want to take a single step. Well in that case it’s best to rest it out.
Ayurveda-the ancient science of life has its own special techniques of detox known as Panchakarma-the 05 elimination therapies. When studied carefully, it is observed that any kind of overexertion, over exercise is strictly prohibited during panchakarma and if not followed properly, there can be drastic side effects of the treatment itself. It must be noted that Panchakarma is a very intense cleanse. Ayurveda follows these rules very strictly and panchakarma treatments are effective only if followed properly.
Lastly let’s look a little deeper into yoga for detox as most detox retreats today offer a session of
yoga as part of the retreat and here’s why:
Yoga as a practice works on every part of the body both the organs and systems inside the body as well as the muscles on the outside. Through the various asanas every part of the body is engaged thereby stimulating, relaxing and gently massaging the organs to working optimally.
Yogic breathing is also believed to play an important role in promoting detoxification as it teaches one to maximize the use of our lungs to ensure maximum intake of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide.
In addition to the numerous benefits, it has on the physical & physiological body, yoga also aids in the process of mental detoxification. This is brought about by helping you to move your awareness away from
the chaos of the mind and back to the present moment.
As a result, a regular yoga practice can help you eliminate toxins daily, while maintaining the health of our detox organs, keeping both you and your body happy and healthy. So, our best bet when on a detox retreat is yoga, it’s gentle, you can practice at your own pace and still feel immense benefits.
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