Om Gal's 6 Spring Cleaning Tips

Toasting spring with Trident Cafe's Body Cleanser juice.

As a yoga teacher, creator of, and online wellness editor for Boston magazine, it may come as a surprise that I’m not so keen on cleanses. If I’m feeling toxic or low energy or — let’s call it like it is — as though a large percentage of my body mass index consists of red wine and chocolate, I curb my overindulgent ways by erring in the direction of raw fruits and vegetables and plenty of water. I go for a run. I meditate. I spend some time in the steam room of my gym. I don’t endure days of a liquid-only diet. I don’t condone grown-ups eating baby food for any reason. And when friends or students tell me they’re on the Master Cleanse, it makes me completely anxious.

Please don’t faint in my yoga class. I say to myself. Please don’t develop an eating disorder…

I see the merit of giving one’s system a rest and healthful re-start, especially at the start of a new season and with proper supervision. Cleaning out our physical and spiritual “houses” (i.e. our bodies) is an important way to stay healthy, clear-headed, and full of energy. However, more often than not, I witness cleanses used as starvation diets, with the virtuous disguise of a yogi ritual.

On the other hand, I am a junkie when it comes to lifestyle cleansing. I would detox my home, thoughts, and habits all darn day if I could. Give me a stack of junk mail, and I’ll go to town. Show me a bulging, bloated closet, and I’ll delight in extracting the trends of seasons’ past until what remains is a functional, fabulous, and of-the-moment wardrobe. Plop me on a meditation cushion to consider my toxic thought patterns because I am in. Cleansing of this kind is essential. Not to mention, it doesn’t require foregoing solid foods…

To help you get started, here are six spring cleaning tips for your body and mind:

Closet Cleanse: Each season, it’s important to review your wardrobe and shed items that no longer fit your body or fashion sense. Instead, donate them to a local homeless shelter. If your duds seem too posh for the castaway pile, try consignment. Perhaps you could use the earned money for a new spring purchase?

Recharging my laptop (and brain) at the Denver airport.

Technology Diet: To clear your head, try quieting external noise by observing the practice of “noble silence.” Turn off all iPods, iPhones, Blackberries, TVs and laptops for a few waking hours or one full day. You’ll immediately notice that doing this will recharge you, as well as your devices.

Nature Supplement: To truly appreciate a change of the seasons, no matter how subtle, get outside! Be with nature. Supplement your daily routine with a trip to the mountains, a beach, lakefront, local park, or garden patch. Even the smallest doses of time spent in nature can clear nervous energy and make you feel more grounded.

Feel the Burn: Sounds like I’m going to tell you to try CrossFit or some other calorie-scorching activity, right? Nope. (That’s for another post). Fire is one of the most cleansing of all the elements (next to water). Integrating it into our lives can be effective for clearing old energy. An aromatherapy candle easily calms, while the first sparks of a campfire excite. Recently, I received the gift of a sacred piece of wood from Peru, known as a palo santo, which is said to purify and protect when lit throughout one’s home (especially in the vicinity of cluttered corners and spaces lacking movement and inspiration). The woodsy smell, alone, is enough to sharpen dulled senses.

Play with Your Food: Too often, conventional cleanses are restrictive and rigid. Instead, have fun with your food by savoring the new season. Try recipes and restaurants that use local ingredients. Not only does local food taste better, it’s also better for the environment. A win-win for your health and your community.

Go Organ-ic: While I recommend buying organic whenever possible, I’m referring to your actual organs, here. Twisting the body helps organs to cleanse internally. (Yes, really). Try adding a gentle twist to your yoga practice or workout routine, such as a seated twist (ardha matseyendrasana).

How will you “spring clean” this season?