Gently bow your head in acknowledgment of your success over the past 4 weeks. Externally, you began to eat for whole-body health, picking foods, and sticking to routines that promote health and weight loss. You powered up your body’s innate fat-burning potential by simply shifting how and what you eat. You gained insight into who you are and how to make balance happen for you. You reinvented your diet using whole foods that encourage calm and balance. And you stood up to your personal stressors using a positive approach: food and fitness. Perhaps you found your way into your very first Downward-Facing Dog, or you nailed familiar poses that you felt were made for your body and personality type. You learned about the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda and familiarized yourself with ways that the fundamentals fit into your daily life. As a result, you’re feeling fresh. The yoga body you’ve built is part of mind, body, and spirit. As we mentioned upfront, the effects of The Yoga Body Diet are both superficial and profound. If you experienced trouble sleeping before, by now you should be drifting off more easily, sleeping more soundly, and waking up more restored. While the stressors in your life today may be exactly what they were 4 weeks ago, you’re finding it easier to remain comfortably in the calm eye of the storm. Your skin is clearer. Your mood is more stable. And digestive issues—heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea— have been resolved. You’re looking good externally because you renovated a bit internally. Coveting a perky yoga butt and trying to find a little more peace in your life are very different goals, but both are perfect in that they got you this far. And because we want to keep growing, it’s time to ask, what’s next?
If you have more weight to lose, continue eating for your dosha until your have reached a healthy goal weight. Or if you feel unusually moody or sense a life change coming on like a stress tsunami, stay on your dosha- balancing diet. Unlike the commercial programs out there, the dosha diets don’t involve deprivation. That means they’re safe and healthy to continue long-term. If you want to go deeper, here’s how to maintain a yoga body for life.
THE YOGA BODY MAINTENANCE PLAN
A yoga body isn’t made overnight. Think about the people you know who have yoga bodies—Christie Turlington, Reese Witherspoon, your sister-in-law. They’ve probably worked on and off the mat for years to create their trim physique and healthy glow. Following the Yoga Body Maintenance Plan Principles will keep you on this path while adding more variety to your diet. Here are the four principles to keep in mind when it comes to building a yoga body for life. 1. Continue following the Week 1 guidelines 2. Eat for the seasons. 3. Detox twice a year. 4. Deepen your yoga practice.
Maintenance Principle 1: Continue following the Week 1 guidelines
By now you have seen how important eating properly is to weight loss. (Eating properly for a yoga body means, of course, eating three meals per day, making lunch bigger than dinner, and limiting distractions during mealtime.) You also saw how the Week 1 guidelines provide unique physical and mental benefits for your dosha. They continue to play a major role in keeping the weight off. That’s because eating regular, satisfying
meals fires up your metabolism while staving off hunger pangs. At the same time, controlling distractions (silencing your phone, stepping away from e- mail, and turning off the TV) prevents mindless eating. When you eat this way the majority of the time, your meals get digested and eliminated properly. Slip-ups take less of a toll on the progress you’ve made because your body is in peak fat-burning shape.
Maintenance Principle 2: Eat for the seasons
Eating seasonal harvests not only accomplishes the task of keeping your weight stable but supports the environment and economy, saves you money, and effortlessly detoxifies you. In Ayurveda, each dosha correlates with a season. It’s no accident that the constitutions of each type mirror the properties of the seasons: Vata constitutions are cold, like winter. Pitta constitutions are hot, like summer. Kapha constitutions are associated with moisture and with springtime. The same diets that pacify doshic imbalances can provide balance for everyone—no matter your dosha—during those specific times of the year. It is also no accident that the diets that balance each dosha are based on the foods nature provides during the dosha’s corresponding season. So, for instance, the pitta diet favors fresh fruits and vegetables, abundant during the summer’s long growing season. Similarly, the vata diet emphasizes high-fat, high-protein foods, which are plentiful during the cold winter. And of course, spring provides a bounty of greens and sprouts, foods integral to the kapha diet. According to Ayurveda, eating with the seasons naturally creates balance and weight maintenance year-round. What this means is that after the weight-loss project is out of the way, during the winter you’ll follow the vata diet, in the summer eat the pitta diet, and in the spring follow the kapha diet.
What about fall? Technically, we consume the nuts, grains, and root vegetables harvested in the fall growing season during the winter, when the earth provides little. The fall months are split between the summer (pitta) diet early on, when the weather is still warm, and the winter (vata) diet toward the end of the season, when the mercury drops. Ayurveda suggests that we actually harvest food in only three seasons of the year; and typically, winter is a season of rest even for nature—so there are harvests in spring, summer, and fall. The late fall harvest supports us through the winter. Dr. Douillard’s previous book, The 3-Season Diet, explains how to eat seasonally and goes into depth about the resulting health benefits. Specifically, here’s how the year breaks down: Follow the kapha (spring) diet in March, April, May, and June. Follow the pitta (summer) diet in July, August, September, and October. Follow the vata (winter) diet in November, December, January, and February. The wonderful thing about eating for the seasons is that no food is off limits. This means you’ll never feel restricted. You can eat everything—just wait for the appropriate time of year. And the more closely you follow each diet during its respective season, the more you’ll begin to crave the types of foods emphasized during each time of year. The truth is, you probably already hanker for warm soups and stews in the winter; salads in the spring; and fresh, juicy fruits in the summer. When eating for the seasons, be mindful of two things. First, follow the diet that correlates with your dosha particularly closely during that dosha’s season. A vata can easily slip out of balance during the cold, dry winter months. But the vata diet provides warm, moisturizing foods to help vatas maintain balance during that time of the year. The same goes for pittas during the summer and kaphas during the spring. This also means that once a year you will automatically recalibrate, if needed, and drop pounds that may have crept up on you if you weren’t paying attention to what you were eating.
The second thing to remember is this: Do not abandon the central principles of your dosha’s diet even when eating for the seasons. If you’re a pitta, you know that you should minimize spices, but spices are plentiful in the spring diet. While it’s fine to use more spices during the spring than you would during the hot summer (and it’s also okay to enjoy many of the spicy dishes you love), try to consume spices in moderation. For example, have one spicy meal per week and use just a sprinkle of spices when cooking. Similarly, kapha types know to avoid heavy, oily foods, the very foods that make up the winter (vata) diet. Go ahead and enjoy oils, nuts, and meats during the winter, but keep portions of heavy, oily foods small.
Maintenance Principle 3: Detox twice a year
In Chapter 1, you saw that stress causes a thick mucus to form along your intestines, clogging your body’s ability to properly digest fats and other nutrients from your diet, resulting in tummy troubles, cravings, and ultimately, weight gain. Eating properly, as well as eating for your dosha, will strip away this film. But there’s more. Toxins—heavy metals, carcinogens, preservatives, and pesticides, among others—find their way into your body. They’re all around us, in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat. Certain toxins, called free radicals, even occur naturally through processes like digestion and breathing. Your body is equipped with its own detox system, as your organs work every minute of every day to eliminate the toxic waste from metabolism and from chemicals in the environment. But your organs can get overloaded —and stress slows this process even more. When this happens, toxins circulate through your bloodstream, lodging themselves in fat cells (including those in your brain!). They chip away at your body’s defenses, at first causing issues such as allergies, rashes, headaches, colds, depression, PMS, and more—ultimately leading to disease.
The solution? Detox for four days twice a year.
Detoxification was a crucial part of optimal health even 5,000 years ago, when Ayurveda was in its infancy. Back then, environmental toxins were
minimal, and yet detoxification played a huge role in an Ayurvedic prescription for optimal health. Today, with an extremely toxic environment, detoxification has again become a requirement for optimal health. Ayurveda suggests a comprehensive detox called panchakarma, in which patients retreat for a week or more to purify and rejuvenate the mind, body, spirit, and emotions. Patients receive 2 to 3 hours of Ayurvedic therapy, with two therapists, individualized yoga, breathing, and meditation for up to 5 hours a day, with a special diet, self-inquiry, emotional release, and even the option of staying in silence. Dr. Douillard has been administering panchakarma since 1987. Studies on panchakarma have shown that 13 of the major cancer-causing fat-soluble chemical toxins were purged from fats cells during the treatment and continued to be expelled for 3 months after the therapy ended. Extremely toxic chemicals such as dioxin were pulled out of people’s fat cells, where they sometimes had been stored for 20 years. This is why it is so important for us to reset our ability to burn fat. It is not only for weight loss; it is an essential component of good health. The detox we describe here is actually used as a preparatory part of the panchakarma and has been time-tested for thousands of years as a simple and effective detox program. As with any detox, please consult your doctor before you begin. There are plenty of extreme detox programs out there that promise to sweep your innards clean. Their methods are by and large unhealthy. They rob you of crucial nutrients and essentially put your body into starvation mode. That is certainly not what we are after here. The goal of the Yoga Body Detox is to encourage your body to rid itself of fat cells in which toxins have taken up residence. (Yes, fat is toxic in more ways than one.) You’re going to remind your body what it was built to do: Absorb what it needs, and eliminate what it doesn’t. The detox is a loving shove in the right direction.
When Do I Detox?
During the spring and fall, or before the onset of seasonal symptoms. The best times to detox are when the earth is doing the same: in the spring (April) and fall (October). In the spring, the earth is rapidly turning over new growth and new life. And, in the fall, the earth is letting go of the fruits of its labor. (Think of an apple releasing from a tree.) If you typically suffer from specific symptoms during certain times of the year (say, springtime allergies, or depression in the winter), detox approximately one month before those symptoms take root, and see what happens. The toxins themselves are partly to blame for your symptoms. And a buildup of toxins can interfere with your body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients from foods. A deficiency of certain nutrients—even if they’re in your diet but aren’t getting assimilated into your body—may be the culprit behind seasonal woes. Cleansing will remedy this. This cleanse is not going to leave you feeling depleted. You are not going to be starving or chugging some crazy juice concoction. You are still going to be eating three daily meals. Having said that, it’s important to take some time for yourself while cleansing. What good are your efforts if you’re still whizzing through your day at a million miles per hour, completely stressed out? Your digestive system is going to miss the message that it’s time to chill out and let go. As you reset your digestive system through the detox, it pays to reset your mind, too. If possible, detox when you are able to take a few days off from work or at least when things at work have settled down, such as between deadlines. For 4 days, give yourself permission to relax.
Directions for the 4-Day Detox
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not do this if you have gallbladder issues or trouble digesting fat. If you have any doubts about whether to proceed, please consult your medical practitioner. 1. First thing in the morning, drink ghee (clarified butter) or flaxseed oil. See Chapter 8 for instructions to make ghee at home. Day 1: 2 teaspoons ghee or flaxseed oil Day 2: 4 teaspoons ghee or flaxseed oil
Day 3: 6 teaspoons ghee or flaxseed oil Day 4: 8 teaspoons ghee or flaxseed oil Why ghee? The purpose of this cleanse is to get your body to remove fat cells containing toxins. During these 4 days, you’re going to be eating a nonfat diet except for ghee. Consuming it first thing in the morning automatically puts your body in a fat-burning mode and keeps it there. Because you won’t be ingesting any other fat, your body turns to its own fat cells for fuel. If you have trouble stomaching ghee, mix it with soymilk and drink quickly. As an alternative, mix 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil with 1⁄2 cup of cottage cheese. This combination has an effect similar to that of ghee, but it contains slightly less fat, so it won’t give your body as big a metabolic jumpstart. Wait at least 30 minutes after you have your morning ghee or flaxseed oil before eating breakfast. 2. Eat a nonfat diet. Now that your metabolism is revved up, you’re going to feed it a zero-fat diet. Continue eating your three daily meals. Keep drinking your warm water, which is especially crucial here. Doing so helps flush those fat cells and toxins out of your system.
What should I eat?
Breakfast: Nonfat cooked cereal, such as steel-cut oatmeal or cream of wheat. Egg whites with vegetables. Fresh seasonal fruit if you want it. Lunch and dinner: Brown rice with black beans is going to be your go-to meal this week. Remember, it’s only 4 days, so even if you eat them every day, sometimes twice a day, it will get only so boring. Brown rice with black beans is based on an Indian diet staple called kicharee, which is essentially pureed rice and beans with powerful spices. The taste and texture (not far from baby food) are challenging for Westerners, but a dish of plain rice and beans works equally well. The combination is ideal for keeping blood sugar stable because they’re high in fiber, so they are digested slowly; and beans provide the protein you need for energy. Other possible go-to meals are nonfat vegetable soup (such as minestrone) and salad with nonfat dressing (such as a squeeze of lemon and drop of honey).
3. Drink 11⁄2 cups prune juice on the evening of the fourth night. Nature’s laxative will give your digestive system one more sweep before you welcome a wider variety of foods back into your diet. It goes without saying: You’ll want to clear your schedule this evening. 4. Avoid these foods, which interfere with the detox: Bread, crackers, or any baked goods Meats, fats, and oily foods (such as butter, yogurt, nuts, oils, cheese, pizza) Sprouts, pickles, and vinegar Cold drinks, cold foods, caffeine, and alcohol White sugar Creamy or spicy foods