tofino wellness - spring cleansing

Tofino wellness: Spring Cleansing

by Natalie Rousseau, Tofino

Spring is on its way, the days are noticeably longer, a little bit warmer and we may notice that our thoughts are turning towards the busy days ahead…

Spring-cleaning is an age-old tradition—open the doors, sweep out the winter’s dust and clutter, let fresh air in. If we extend this practice to include our bodies as well as our homes we will feel prepared physically as well as mentally for the longer, busier days of Summer. At the end of winter we may feel a little heavy. This is normal. We eat richer food in the cold season, the days are shorter and darker, and we are often less active. But now as spring arrives, we want to lighten up as we prepare to move into action. As the days begin to lengthen our liver and gall bladder become more active naturally and the body begins its own cleansing process, the more we can help this along the better we’ll feel. When the liver is over burdened we feel sluggish and easily aggravated, our bodies will feel stiffer and we’ll be more prone to allergies.

When the Liver is clear we will feel light and graceful, reflective rather than reactive, as this organ is responsible for the smooth flow of energy throughout the body.

Rich heavy foods congest the Liver, so as spring arrives we want to limit our intake of fats, nuts, and heavy dairy products. Now is the time to emphasize freshness, think spring greens. Kale, parsley, watercress, dandelion greens, unpeeled cucumber, sprouts, collards, and celery are excellent for encouraging the Liver in its action. Light but nutrient dense, high protein grains, like amaranth and quinoa have a slightly bitter taste and so are a good choice for spring, as are mung beans, a traditional cleansing food. Fresh lemon juice and good quality cold pressed oils like flax and olive promote smooth flow through the Gall Bladder. Adding these foods to your diet during this season will bring a feeling of increased lightness. Additional supplements like spirulina, wheatgrass juice, or bitter herbs such as yellow dock, dandelion root and burdock can help the liver to further clean the blood and may be helpful if the Winter was an indulgent one.

Late night eating is hard on the liver, as is overeating. Taking your last meal of the day not more than an hour after dark will find you sleeping better and waking up more refreshed. If this is not possible because of your schedule try to make that later meal a light one and see if you don’t feel better for it. A sluggish Gall Bladder gives you that groggy, can’t get out of bed feeling in the morning. Other practices such as starting your day with half an hour to forty five minutes of gentle exercise such as stretching or walking, will increase circulation and kick start your digestive system, giving you more energy as you start your day.

You may notice that you drink more caffeine and eat more sugar in the winter as the days are so dark and energy is lower. Coffee, alcohol and refined sugar all stress the liver so becoming aware of our intake of these and finding ways to cut down or replace them in our everyday diet will give an increased sense of well being.

Remember moderation when approaching Spring Cleansing. The days are still cool so too much raw food is not yet appropriate and intensive cleansing practices like fasting can cause imbalance. By simply shifting our diets to emphasize lighter, cleaner foods, and beginning to gently increase our activity level as the season changes we will naturally feel more energy.

Learn to listen to what your body needs and you will find yourself naturally making the right choices. Trust your body and it will guide you to balance. Here’s to spring! May it be a season of creativity for us all!

Natalie is an instructor of classical hatha and ashtanga yoga and a self taught avid nutritionist

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Tofino wellness: Spring cleaning is a tradition for your house, but your body also needs a cleansing after the heavy foods of winter.

tofino time march 2004

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