The Harm and Myth of Detox Talk in Yoga

Nov 29, 2022

I am uncomfortable with the popular yoga teacher–ism or adage to “detox” the body with rigorous movement, twisting, or strenuous yoga practice following a holiday meal.

You will never hear me say something like this in a class or to students.

I bring this up because I hear it a lot. Whether in an actual yoga class or through a social media post, which I promptly unfollow, there is a notion that one ought to detoxify themselves after eating certain foods or meals.

First, that’s not how bodies work. Twisting your body does not “ring out your liver's toxins.” I’ve heard this “yoga knowledge'' handed from teacher to student many times. 

Honestly, when I was a new yoga teacher, I’m sure even I said that out loud. Why? Because someone said it to me and I repeated it. 🤣🙄

Your liver and lymphatic system constantly flush harmful toxins out of your body all on their own. While twisting does have benefits like increasing flexibility, there is no scientific evidence that twisting the body is cleansing to your liver. 

Second, there is harmful potential in seeing your body as toxic because of what you ate. This sticky thinking has gotten me into a lot of trouble in the domain of disordered eating. 

Maybe you’re like mealready struggling with a relationship to food— and certainly don’t need someone telling you to twist out the pumpkin pie. Food is a choice that we get to make for ourselves. Guilt, shame, and punishment for what you ate can cause more harm than the food itself. 

Third, yoga is not a punishment for what you ate. Yoga is a presence practice. Whether you practice yoga asana (postures) or not, you can bring mindfulness into anything you're doing.

Yoga can happen on and off the mat through your intentionality, focus, and practicing principles that bring you into right alignment with yourself and your values. 🥰

I encourage you to practice yoga because it feels good in your body.


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