“ Vata, Pitta and Kapha,
the group of the three doshas,
in their natural and disturbed states,
give life to the body and
also destroy it. “
ASHTANGA HRIDAYA 1.6
I know we have heard it all before, yet we neglect to do it or we may not be doing it right. Spring is a miraculous time of the year when we can finally open all the windows and doors, let out all that stale air and dust that the winter months have accumulated, throwing out what is not longer serving us.
The exact same principle applies to our earthly bodies. We have been relatively more stagnant, building up ama (toxins) and residues that during winter months protects us but now they are simply just a burden. The accumulation of coldness and heaviness in the body, if not expelled, can cause congestion, heaviness and lethargy.
Nature calls for cleansing time as the sun is warming us back up!
The Ayurvedic approach to cleansing honors the principals of maintaining the natural rhythms of nature and considers it to be a process that is paramount for maintaining optimal health.
Ayurveda advises a cleanse two times per year, that being the minimum depending on the toxicity level of the individual. The most ideal time is spring and then again in the fall, at the crossings of the seasons.
By following time tested guidelines, you are simply allowing the body to naturally rid itself from the debris of winter, creating new space for the internal cells to breath new life.
Balancing guidelines according to each dosha, straight from the old texts:
Vata may have been aggravated during the dry and rough cold winter months therefore we must bring it back into balance considering the state of the colon. The best way to balance a Vata is with warmth and moisture. Daily application of warm oils (sesame is best for this type), mild sweating (as at a hammam, not sauna), by sweet, sour and salt tastes, warm food, self-massage, keeping warm while walking in nature, by wine made from grain or cane sugar, warm sesame oil basti,aka: enema (this is a must for a Vata dosha), digestive stimulants such as ginger, cumin, fennel and a regular routine.
Although Pitta dosha is balanced by cooler temperatures, the heaviness, darkness and inertia that come along with winter months still tends to throw them out of balance. Pitta is treated with regular ingestion of ghee (clarified butter), purgation with sweet and cold herbs, by sweet, bitter and astringent foods and herbs, by frequently applying oil to the head with camphor, sandalwood and vertiver, relaxing in the moon light, by beautiful music, cool wind, by frequenting ponds, lakes and the sea, especially by loving emotions, milk and ghee as laxatives.
Kapha is certainly disturbed by the gloomy and cold winter, as it posseses most of its same qualities. In Ayurveda “Like raises the like” as one of the biggest rules. Kapha is treated by strong emetic and purgative methods according to the rules, by dry food and little in quantity, sharp, hot, pungent and bitter tastes, by old wine, sexual enjoyment, by all kinds of exercise and mental activity, dry or strong massage and, generally, by taking pleasure in physical hardship.
ASHTANGA HRIDAYA. 1.12
Follow three to seven days of the following home purification program.
Plan for a time with as little chores as possible, take time to be still, practice daily yoga and meditation, expand inwardly. You can still go to work and go about your life as you normally do, only try not to exert yourself and practice mindful awareness about everything you do; remember is not so much what you do, rather it is the attitude behind your choices and actions that truly really matter.
One week prior to the start of your cleansing program, prepare the body by cutting out: dairy, caffeine, wheat, sugar and meat.
Some guidelines to follow on days of purification:
● Drink more fluids (preferably sip hot water between meals).
● Avoid anything cold, dairy, caffeine, wheat, sugar and meat.
● Avoid alcohol.
● Go to bed early.
● Continue your yoga and meditation practice, if you do not practice regularly either, start now.
● Talk less, eat less, breath more.
Routine to follow during purification days:
● Wake up before 6 am, brush teeth, scrape tongue, drink a cup of warm water with lemon/lime or ginger tea and do Sadhana, (Yoga, mantra, meditation), if you do not have time to do it in the AM, you can do it at 6 PM.
● Self-massage with warm oil before shower, dress and apply a tiny bit of your favorite essential oil on your third eye as you visualize yourself surrounded by protective and healing energy.
● Have only green juice for breakfast. Use bitter greens as they help to cleanse the liver.Be creative: spinach, celery, kale, swiss chard, parsley, 10 soaked almonds with skin removed, tiny bit of fresh ginger, a tablespoon of maple syrup, one apple cut into pieces, four soaked pitted dates, one tsp of sea powdered greens, two cups of water and whatever you may have inside your fridge that goes along this guidelines Enjoy!
● Mid morning snack: Fruit. Aovid bananas; too heavy.
● Lunch at noon: Khichadi (recipe below) or dal with rice. Eat smaller portions.
● Afternoon snack: stewed fruit with cinnamon and cardamom.
● Dinner: Dal or a simple vegetable soup on a clear broth.
● Post dinner: listen to some beautiful slow music (bajans, devotional classical or instrumental)
● NOTE: CHECK WITH YOUR PRACTITIONER OR DOCTOR:
Two days before the end of the program, take 1 tablespoon of castor oil before bed time. This serves as a purgation of your colon tract. The taste is not wonderful so feel free to bite into a lime or lemon following the oil to counter its taste. Follow by drinking some warm water.
You will have a few runny evacuations either during the night or the following morning. The first meal post purgation must be liquid and easy to digest, such as congee.
● Retire by 10 PM
Keep the food relatively the same during purification days, if you are hungry have a small piece of fruit and go outside if you can for a nature walk.
At the end of the chosen amount of days, ease yourself back into normal foods. Please do not jump into having coffee with a croissant right away, instead keep snacking on fruit and have light veggie meals. Keep sipping hot teas and/or hot water with lemon throughout the day. Make it a habit.
A few other guidelines to keep in mind during the cleanse and season:
● Avoid sleeping during the day; induces lethargy.
● Get outside, move and keep warm, this is a beautiful time of the year to enjoy the blossoming of nature.
● For the Khichadi recipe experiment with the following grains: millet, barley, rye, quinoa (white/red/black) and buckwheat.