2 weeks ago, I arrived in Koh Phangnan, another island in the Gulf of Thailand, part of the archipelago where I flew in (Koh Samui) and where I went scuba diving (Koh Tao). Geography isn’t important, other than I’m still in remote island tropical paradise 🙂 If I’m living out my own little Eat, Pray, Love, Koh Phangnan represents the segment of health/well-being/regenerating/etc. I’m here for a cleanse/detox and yoga teacher training.
Last fall after I took off a month after my mom died, I knew I wanted/needed to take some extended time off. I didn’t have my shit together enough to do it, but it didn’t stop me from planning what I wanted to do with that time. There were 2 immediate things: immerse myself in yoga in Thailand and immerse my self in Spanish lessons in South America or Spain. I think within the first 5 minutes of searching, I found Ananda, the resort I’m at right now. There so many times I close my eyes and thank God and think how lucky I am… and finding this place was one of those times! There are SO many yoga teacher training and detox programs in Thailand, and without really doing my due diligence, I found this one which is phenomenal AND I was lucky enough that the other people whose journey brought them to Ananada with me are phenomenal too 🙂 In Sanskrit (the language of yoga), ananda means happy or bliss. For you yogis out there, balasana is child’s pose, and ananda balasana is happy baby.
Part 1: Detox
They call this program detox. In my mind, I was thinking of it as a nice juice cleanse. Like, eat some vegetables, have some shakes, have some juices. Detoxify and cleanse the body. Looking back, this seems like something I would do. I love to just hear things and interpret things they way I want to hear them… because this is DEFINATELY not what the detox is. I signed up for 7.5 days. Here is the schedule (it varied a little the last 3 days because I did a special liver cleanse, but I’ll get to that later). Explanation of what each thing means to follow:
7:30 AM – Shake
9:00 AM – Herbs and black walnut drink
10:30 AM – Shake
10:45 AM – Colema
12:00 PM – Herbs, coconut water, grapefruit seed drink
12:15 PM – Massage
1:30 PM – Shake
3:00 PM – Herbs, coconut water, grapefruit seed drink
4:30 PM – Shake
6:00 PM – Herbs, broth soup, grapefruit seed drink
7:15 PM – Shake
7:30 PM – Colema
9:00 PM – Herbs, black walnut drink, fermented probiotic drink
Before bed: Probiotic capsules
The shakes are made of psyllium and bentonite. Psyllium is a husk. Like husk from corn. Ground up. Yum. Bentonite is clay. Yum. So, my “meals” were water, husks and dirt. Literally I ate dirt for a week. Fantastic. The psyllium made you feel full. The bentonite sticks to the waste in your colon to help clear it, because really that’s what we’re trying to do here, clean all the old waste from the colon. Apparently the average person has 20 pounds of waste in their colon. There is sooooo much to say about the waste and bacteria and literally shit that we’re all carrying around with us and how it makes our bodies and our minds feel but I’m not a scientist and the moment I try to reflect it on here is the moment I misrepresent facts. And I’m digressing.
The grapefruit seed and black walnut drinks sounded like they could possibly be good? They weren’t. I don’t even know how to explain it except that I just had to chug it and chase it with water.
The herbs were 7 capsules.
The highlights were first the massage. You got an hour massage daily. And it was soooooo good. SO GOOD. Next was the coconut water. They literally cut open a coconut in front of you and poured the water into a cup. SO GOOD. Then third was the broth. It was a distant third, after the first two, but it was weak vegetable broth that was warm and you could add pepper. It didn’t make me want to barf hence it made the list.
The colemas… oh boy. This is going to get graphic. Skip to the next paragraph if you ever want to look me in the eye again. A colema is where there is a huge pail (like maybe 10 gallons? Maybe more?) on top of a pole. In the morning it was filled with a coffee/water/probably other things mix and at night, replace coffee with garlic. It has a tube attached to it, so when the valve that you control is opened, the water flows down. That’s the only non-gross part, so I led with it. Everyone has a colema in their own room. It is a little plastic bed, kind of like a gurney maybe? It has a pad on it that is covered (so it can be washed every time). Then the bed ends, and there is an opening, and above that opening, the end of the plastic tube from the coffee/water/mix comes out. Each person has their own hard plastic tube. It’s probably about a foot, foot and a half long. You stick your individual hard tube in into the plastic tube. Then you lay down on the pad. I’m usually wearing nothing but a bra at this point. Then you scooch yourself down the pad and slide the hard plastic tube into your butt. I forgot to add, each person has their own little lube container, that you grease up the hard plastic tube with first. Classy. After you get the tip in, you have to go another few inches. You probably go like 1 inch. It feels like you go for another foot. You know when to stop once your butt gets to the edge of the pad. If you try not to go far enough, the water leaks out. This is a family friendly blog and nobody really wants to know details anyway, but I’m comfortable with my body. I didn’t think this process would be scary. But pretty much every time I was like, ahhhhh this is wrong! I’m going to poke a hole in my organs with this thing!! But, I got it to work. Phew. Once you’re there, you click the valve open, and it’s basically a little bath for your colon that flows fluid and pressure in, and then you shit it out. It’s a cycle that goes on for about a half hour.
At first, it was awful. Sometimes I felt super sick and nauseous afterwards. Sometimes I felt crampy and gassy. Sometimes I felt lighter and freer and great 🙂
Before the first day, you have your last dinner and then you take your first round of herbs at night. By like noon on the first day, I already felt sick. By the end of the day, I had an awful headache. I felt like I had the flu – coughing, fever, sore throat, stuffy sinuses. I ached. I was tired. I was hungry. I went to yoga though. Thought it would help? Maybe it did, but I just felt so week. Don’t worry, I felt the same way on day 2 except my joints hurt too. It was weird, my knuckles felt like I had jammed all my fingers… strange. I went for a little walk and found the 7/11. All I wanted were oreos. It took everything in me not to eat oreos. When I think about how much I’ve wanted something in my life, I think the lust I had for the oreos on day 2 was in the top 10 moments of things I’ve wanted sooooooooooooo badly. But I didn’t have any. I kept on keeping on. Day 3, basically the same as day 2 except that my emotions were crazy! They say detox cleans the body, but it cleans the mind. I thought it just meant by not eating for a week, I would obviously gain mental strength and by having all day to think and reflect and not have my thoughts revolve around the distracting things a person desires (food cravings, drinking, sex, etc) it would help. That’s true, but there is also is a release of toxic mental energy. Again, there are scientific studies, and chakra/alternative medicine/etc theories around the gut holding onto negative energy/emotional baggage. But again, speaking on this would just be a misrepresentation and digressing even more. For me, it was very emotional. A lot of it centered around my mom. A lot of times I have dreams about her, they are in essentially present day. We’re doing something (and as I’m writing this, I realize I should write down the dreams the next morning because I don’t remember much about the dreams later) and eventually it hits me, wow, mom you’re not using oxygen!! You’re getting better!! And I’m super happy. Then I get confused, lungs don’t heal and regenerate. How are you getting better? Then it hits me, you’re not. You’re dead. This is a dream. It’s awful. But really, it’s bittersweet. In the dream, I can hear her voice. I can smell her. If we do something like hug in the dream, I can feel the hug. It’s real. But then I relive the sadness all over again and the loss again. But the emotions were more than the dreams. If I’ve been dealing with my grief and sadness and feeling lost and my mental stability like waves washing over me, I felt like I was in a storm on detox with the waves coming fast and furious and crashing on me hard.
But I also started to connect more with some of the other detoxers. I had the skills I’ve been working on to accept and feel these painful things and experience them and move on.
And by day 4, I started to feel better. My headache was gone. My aches felt better. I still felt physically exhausted. The steam room is about 2 stories up, and I had to take a break walking up to it, but I felt good. And that feeling just continued to grow over the rest of the week. Like any healing and growing journey, it’s not a straight line. Some moments were hard – aches, hunger, feeling lost. But by the end, I truly did feel lighter and better. I feel like I really did shed a bunch of the old stagnant shit that I had been holding on to, afraid of letting go.
It was perfect timing, because I ended midday on a Saturday, and Sunday night I had dinner with my fellow yoga teacher training students before we kicked off our month of training on Monday.
I think I delayed writing this post because I didn’t feel like writing it in the middle of detox. It was too emotional and I felt like I needed to know the ending to tell the story. Knowing the ending of how detox has made me feel in relation to yoga is great. It made me feel great!! But some of the most meaningful things I have taken out of detox and the first week of yoga teacher training and just intensive yoga focus is that I don’t need to know the end to tell the story. It’s the journey that matters. It’s living in the moment. The other reason this is delayed, is because yoga is intense! We start at 8:00 AM with 90 minutes of yoga, and end at 8:00 PM when we wrap up our last classroom session after dinner.
So there is more I want to say about detox, and a lot I want to say about the mind-body connection I’m feeling between detox and yoga, and then TONS about yoga. But it will come. Just not tonight.
As my parting thoughts on Ananda part 1, I just want to remember and tell my blog how wonderful and beautiful it is here. If there is a place where you are going through shit, and suffering and then having 12 hours of learning, this is the place. They make it so easy and wonderful.
Pictured from the top left corner: my own bungalow with a hammock on the porch, luscious gardens, more luscious gardens, daily massage, about 15 feet from the beach and it is west facing so gorgeous sunsets, my fellow detox buddies who we probably know more about each other’s butt holes than anyone else in the world, the detox bar captain Nor who made being served gross things every hour and a half instead of food bearable, and then my first bites of cucumber after breaking my 7.15 day fast!!