It’s right after the holidays, and many of us are feeling a little toxic, either from what we ate, drank, stressful holiday travel or strained family relations. I went to yoga today and the teacher offered a suggestion that I found especially helpful. Detox.

Detox in functional medicine is a big deal. It’s a two-step process. First, you free the toxin by creating a reactive substance, and then transform it to clear it from the body. Before we detox, we must restore the gut’s health so that it can safely eliminate released toxins. We also have to ensure that the patient is well enough to sustain the detoxification. Releasing toxins can make you feel worse before you are better.

Perhaps a better place to begin is to detox our thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, detoxing metals and chemicals are important, but your body needs to be ready to release toxins safely.

The next time you start or are preparing for a workout, whatever kind it is, reflect on the thoughts that aren’t serving you. One of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott calls this “K F**KED radio” —  that voice in your head that replays negative messages. It says the exercise will be too hard, that you are too tired, or repeats the diminishing comment from your coworker. During exercise, imagine your body heat burning up those negative thoughts.

As we moved through the flow today in yoga and my muscles were quivering with fatigue I imagined building a bonfire. Each negative emotion was fuel. As my body generated more heat I was tossing those feelings onto the fire, letting them burn away. As my mind began to wonder — when will this be over and when can I just lay on the floor and have shavasana? — I exhaled and put that thought and feeling into my fire. As I created more heat I imagined all the negativity burning up.

Guess what happened?! I held balances longer, sank deeper into poses, stretched further. I finished the practice feeling both exhausted, energized, and proud.

As we move through our days, what can we burn up that isn’t serving us? How could we use that heat to fuel some healing for our bodies and our minds?

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