YJ Asked: Should Yogis Go on a Juice or Elimination Cleanse?

Juice fasts and extreme elimination diets are trending again, despite potential health risks. Should yogis do it?

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Juice fasts and extreme elimination diets are trending again, despite potential health risks. We asked yoga students, teachers, and medical professionals if cleansing in any way, shape, or form can be beneficial.

It’s important for yogis to cleanse. Whether we are seeking digestive rest, a specific organ detox, or a mental, emotional, or spiritual reset, periodic cleanses can help us maintain the gorgeous bodies we live in. But there should definitely be a consciousness around not overdoing your cleanse. Yoga itself-—through breathasana, and other practices—is one of the most powerful cleanses, and should be supported with food, juice, and nutrient cleanses.
– Jesi Vandeputte Ashtanga and Forrest Yoga student, Louisville, Colorado

No one, regardless of health goals, needs a liquid diet to detoxify. Eating a regular diet of healthy food and staying hydrated and active allow the body to naturally cleanse through normal digestive processes, without severe caloric restriction or eliminating entire food groups. Furthermore, cleansing for more than a couple of days can increase the risk of muscle loss. I can’t imagine any yogi having that goal.
– Leslie Schilling
Licensed dietitian, Schilling Nutrition Therapy, Memphis

An Ayurvedic cleanse consisting of a mono-diet for three to seven days in the fall and spring is good for stabilizing the body, but if you are cleansing, you should slow your asana practice. Vigorous, sweaty asana can deplete the body, so it shouldn’t be practiced while cleansing. Alternatively, a Yin or restorative practice composed of gentle postures and breathing exercises—especially Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (alternate-nostril breathing)—can draw prana, or life force, into the body, calm the nervous system, and promote balance during a cleanse.
– Kate O’Donnell Ayurvedic practitioner and Ashtanga teacher, Boston

Traditional hatha yoga placed an emphasis on preparing the body for yoga through six cleansing actions known as shatkarmas. Three of these practices are concerned with improving digestion and elimination. The other three address cleansing practices for the lungs, eyes, and nasal passages (neti washing). While most shatkarmas are no longer popular, many people, including non-yogis, have discovered the benefits of a neti wash to cleanse the sinuses.
– Mehtab Benton Kundalini teacher trainer and author of Astrology Yoga, Austin, Texas

It is essential for everyone to cleanse. Blood tests and research show that plastics, pesticides, and other toxins are present in all of us. These can overwhelm the normal detoxification pathways of our liver, intestines, lungs, kidneys, and skin, potentially contributing to cancers, neurological conditions, general fatigue, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. Cleansing, from juice fasting to cleansing diets, may offset inherent exposure to toxins, but there is no one size-fits-all.
– Sarah Murphy Naturopathic doctor,
Malibu, California

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See also 5 Revitalizing Juice Recipes to Nourish Your Body + Promote Health