We hear about “toxins” a lot in our everyday lives, and one place you’re likely to hear about them is in a yoga class or massage session. Do these practices actually help remove toxins from our systems?
It depends on what you mean by toxins, and if this is important to you, it merits some follow-up questions with your yoga instructor or massage therapist. What specific toxins are they talking about and how are you getting rid of them? Are we talking about improving circulation? Dealing with lactic acid? Reducing levels of stress hormones?
Yoga is an especially interesting case because the practice has so much tradition and philosophy behind it. Some health claims for yoga have been documented by modern science, while others are rooted in a philosophical tradition that you may or may not buy into. It’s good to know what you’re getting.
If you’re interested in learning more about the health benefits of yoga and massage, a great source for more information is the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. NCCAM’s health information on yoga suggests that it may be useful for reducing low-back pain, coping with stress, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and relieving anxiety, depression and insomnia, not to mention improving overall fitness and flexibility. For massage, NCCAM fact sheets indicate that scientific studies are more limited, but available research suggests that it offers many of the same benefits.
If any of that sounds like what you’re looking for out of a detox program, great! But if you have other reasons for wanting to detox, such as specific concerns about liver disease, this may not be what you’re looking for. When in doubt, ask questions, and take any claims about removing unspecified “toxins” with a grain of salt.
To learn more about detoxing your body, read The Truth About Detox Diets.
Megan E. Phelps is a freelance writer based in Lawrence, Kansas. You can find her reading labels in the wellness aisle of her local natural foods store or on Google+.