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NYC Spring Cleanse Tea & Yoga Workshop

“I want to debunk the myth that spinal twists wring out the organs. I’ve been seeing that in a lot of yoga journals lately.”

Melissa demonstrated, rotating her torso. “The organs are mostly on the front of the body. They don’t move.”

This was only the beginning of the Spring Cleanse Tea & Yoga Workshop at West End Health & Fitness, held on March 26th, 2017.

“See? Here they are on the front of my body.” She reversed the rotation. “Still on the front of my body.”

The studio mirrors created multiple reflections of her flexing like a cat, as the workshop attendees and I watched from our mats and folded blankets.

Then we followed suit, pulling knees to chests, tapping into the intimate capabilities of our musculoskeletal system. Who knew that a spine could rotate like that?

With each stretch and bend, Melissa encouraged us to go deeper within ourselves. Breathe, listen to the funny inhabitants of our bellies. And as organs are wont to do, they responded appreciatively.

“Excuse me, that was a burp. That’s an expression of organ function.”

One of the founders of SMARTerBodies, Melissa is an expert at marrying functional physiology with classic asana. Rather than leading us through a flow of up-down-cat-cow-bird-dog-horse-narwhal-etc, she explained each pose as a way of getting to know one’s body, to listen and provide assistance to its needs.

As important are they are, we often ignore our bellies. When was the last time you had the chance to say hello to your digestive system?

I won’t go into the effect on my own digestive system—please use your imagination—but when paired with her calm voice and breathing techniques, those gentle twists released my spine from countless hours spent training, typing, and tea-ing.

For a moment, all was still.

This was the theme of the day’s workshop: release.

Melissa and I had partnered for this event to create an experience of cleansing the self from winter blahs and unwanted negativity. “Detox” is a popular catchword at this time of the year, but the human body is capable of cleansing itself in its own way—no organ-wringing necessary.

For us, a little tea and yoga would help prepare for brighter months ahead. Hence, Adagio’s Sunlit Blooms were perfect for this workshop. They embodied the light, invigorating qualities needed for a sense of rejuvenation. Floral and citrus? Yes, please.

Starting with A Bushel And A Peck, this black and green blend sailed into your mouth on chamomile wings. Steeped for a bare two-three minutes, the base teas of hardy black and sensitive green harmonized like a team of professional opera singers. This is quite a feat for a black-green blend, as these tea types have different steeping times as could possibly go bitter against one another.

Yet luck was with us! Luck, plus the blend’s hidden jasmine, which quietly linked the major tea-voices together. The fact that jasmine symbolizes purity made it all the more fitting.

We transitioned into the next tea, A Tisket A Tasket, for more sweetness and citrus. At first sip, there was the delicate orange scent that accompanied A Bushel And A Peck, but this time it came with a stately green base.

Future blenders, pay attention: the base tea makes the difference. Having that slight edge of vegetal goodness from the green tea allowed the citrus to explode delightfully in your mouth, while a hint of vanilla flavor and lemongrass turned the whole sip into a tropical creamsicle.

Our third and final tea was A Pocketful Of Posies. This caffeine-free blend contained the now-familiar flavor of chamomile from the previous tea, yet here it was set up with lavender, rose, hibiscus, and blackberry leaves for a total bouquet of soothing sensation. People remarked on how calming it was, and we discussed how certain herbs—chamomile, lavender, etc—have anti-inflammatory properties.

And taking care of inflammation is important. Being that the workshop took place at a gym, part of the “spring cleanse” meant thinking about how to apply tea to one’s own health and fitness practice. Whether it’s arthritis, sore muscles or dry skin, you want to be able to treat that inflammation of tissue. Drinking anti-inflammatory tea—and due to the antioxidants present in plant matter, this means that every type of tea is anti-inflammatory—is a great way of reducing and preventing inflammation.

The biggest question, however, was calorie count.

Does tea have calories?

Yes. Everything edible contains calories.

But being that tea is thermogenic, the calories consumed by drinking it are going towards boosting your metabolism, to burn more significant calories from the food you ingested during the day. (Of course, by the time you’ve drunk enough tea to really kickstart your system, the sensationalized “weight loss” is usually water. Let no one forget the diuretic action of tea drinking!)

Yet at the end of the workshop, in the bliss of lavender and yoga-endorphins, calories didn’t really matter.

Spring was here. We breathed and sipped for warmer days.