Lately I've had a surge of new attendants coming to my yoga and meditation classes. As it's their first introduction to the discipline, I've had some interesting, yet not surprising feedback on the symptoms they've experienced - symptoms like nausea and getting headaches during or after the class, asking me if 'this was normal'.
Yoga releases toxins on so many levels. As a science that dates back five-thousand years, it works on healing through all the layers - especially for those just starting the discipline. Each person will have a different experience of this.
There's a lot that goes on inside our bodies during a class, most of which we are unaware of. Yoga doesn't simply attend to the physical body, which is what makes it a spiritual practice as opposed to a glorified workout - this is not my style of teaching! It works on healing every aspect of the human mind, body and spirit, including the parts we can't see. This is why yoga is so special to me - it nurtures every part of us.
When we begin a new discipline that works on a deep level, we may experience what is known as 'the healing crisis'. To put it simply, our body has to break down before it builds itself up. Think of turning on an old tap that hasn't been used in years. At first, the water that comes out will be undrinkable - dirty and polluted. After running the tap for a while, the crisp, clear water is revealed.
The same goes with eating habits. We can't pile a whole lot of healthy food on top of a backlog of junk food. The junk food has to leave our body first, in order for us to reap the benefits of the healthy food. Yoga is no different. It allows us the chance to detoxify before we can heal. If you're carrying negative emotions from your past which were formed and made into bad habits form a young age, these will sit in your energetic body - and if you don't release them, they can manifest into physical forms such as disease. Negative emotions must leave us, before healthy ones can heal us.
Yoga wakes you up, encouraging you to live life more consciously. For me, it was like turning up the volume of awareness. Yoga is a way of being, a lifestyle which can be applied to all areas of life - an emotional release that may catch you off-guard is the beginning. It's never nice to feel sick after a session, but take comfort in this: it is a part of the healing process, so that with some commitment, we can feel our very best. Working subtly through our many layers, yoga delivers powerful results over time. I'm living proof of this!
Yoga focuses on stretching and compressing every part of the body and keeps the waste-removal departments of the body functioning well. In a well-rounded session, every part of the body is pushed, pulled, twisted and turned. Waste products such as carbon dioxide, lactic acid and lymphatic fluid from the deep tissues and extremities of the body are removed. Yoga gets to places that other forms of exercise just don't reach.
Breathing ( pranayama ) also plays an imperative role in cleansing. Bad habits prevent the lungs from inflating fully, and chronic stress often leads to a clenched diaphragm. As a result, we don't take in as much oxygen when we inhale, or expel as much carbon dioxide when we exhale.
Some yoga postures, such as twists, will help to cleanse the body. These positions have a variety of benefits, such as squeezing the abdominal organs to stimulate digestion and elimination, aiding in the circulation of blood and lymph, stimulating the digestive organs and soothing the nervous system. It's like ringing out a wet towel to get the water out and then shaking it out again.
My very first yoga class was extremely emotional. I literally cried like a baby all the way to the car park, and felt annoyed that the other yogis weren't having the same emotional experience as me. After the class, all the women looked happy and were chatting amongst themselves -- I wondered why it wasn't as sacred to them as it was to me. Why isn't anyone else having an emotional release? I thought angrily to myself. Somebody cry with me! Of course, the more you practice, the lighter you become as the toxins start to break down in the body. Now, I am indeed one of those chatty ladies who feels amazing after a class, and bounces off with a spring in her step to embrace the euphoric highs of life.
Ladan Soltani- 'A dedicated yogi and author of fabulous fitness at 40'