Are you now or have you ever been in the cycle of feeling like you are working too much, too many hours, and too hard– without feeling the balance of rest and reward? Even if you may not work excessive hours, do you still experience a feeling of fatigue and a way—too-busy mind?
Are you juggling so many responsibilities, projects, commitments thoughts and expectations that you feel unable to overcome a state of perpetual overwhelm? Does taking care of yourself seem like "just one more thing" to add to your to do list?
No matter what your goal weight is for you and your personal constitution, are you never completely happy with how you look and feel? Do you always feel fatigued and a little (or a lot) short of vibrant energetic health? It is not just excess body weight that affects us but also a heavy mind.
In Ayurvedic philosophy there is a perspective on cleansing that goes well beyond the cleanse itself. It is about creating a life-practice that can sustain and nourish you so that you never need to be in any of these exhausting states of overwork, overwhelm, and overweight. Many cleanses are crash-course, sparkle-in-a-jiffy, magic-bullet approaches; but do they address the deeper imbalances of body, mind, and emotions for the long term? An Ayurvedic cleanse is designed to instill the foundation of good health. It works in a subtle and deep way to prepare you for the upcoming season and beyond. Fasting has its place but a fall cleanse is as much about nourishing the tissues and satisfying the mind as it is about releasing toxins (ama) from the body and also undigested thoughts from the mind.
As we move into autumn, this is the ideal time to embrace a sustainable way of health for your personal lifestyle, whether it is busy or spacious. By paying attention to your body as it transitions from season to season you have the power to set yourself up for a truly irresistible life. The beauty of these practices is that they are simple and very accessible no matter what your schedule. The thing is to just begin! Commit to at least three of these practical tips for cleansing in the fall and you will notice an almost immediate improvement in your digestion, energy, and outlook. Seriously!
Seven Simple Ayurvedic Practices You Can Start Right Away
1. Tongue scraping.
Make this the first thing you do after you wake up, before anything else! Scraping the tongue with a tongue scraper (or you can use the back of a spoon) is—shall we say—mind blowing! Toxins that accumulate on the tongue overnight are best scraped away gently several times before brushing teeth.
2. Hot water and lemon.
After tongue scraping, add a slice of lemon to some hot water and drink a nice big cup. This clears away congestion, strengthens digestion, and cuts cravings. Do this before ingesting anything else in the morning. Then cut up some lemons to go and make this your drink of choice throughout the day.
3. Main meal at midday.
Yep! It’s lunch and not dinner that is best as the biggest meal of the day. Pitta time is best for good digestion and that is noon to 2pm!
4. No eating at least 3 hours before bed.
You want to be resting and not digesting when you’re ready to hit the hay!
5. To bed and awake at same time each day.
Routine is a great way to normalize digestion so that Pitta organs can heal and also to bring order and peace to the Vata mind, especially during the fall season.
6. Breath work or meditative practice.
Even five minutes a day can change your life. Do find the time.
7. Daily self massage (abhyanga).
Oils such as sesame tone the skin, strengthen muscles, nourish the body tissues, and soothe the emotions. The word for oil in Sanskrit is sneha and it means love. So give yourself some! Warmed sesame oil applied in long strokes to the whole body before your shower in the morning will give you glowing skin and vibrant health for years to come.
What Happens When You Don’t Cleanse?
Imagine not taking your car for an oil change at least once a year even if you don’t drive it that much. Think of the congestion, accumulation, rust, breaking down over time, etc. And then imagine if on top of that you drive it into the ground with long trips, stop-and-start driving, neglect, no car-washes, or very little TLC. Like your car, your body will take misuse for a while and operate on very little. However, signs of disease and discomfort will start to show up and this is very stressful. In Ayurveda we focus on transformation rather than feeling stuck in old habits and patterns. Make a commitment to your health and your life with new awareness and excitement. Get yourself ready for the fall!
The first phase of an Ayurvedic cleanse is preparation. Rajasic—stimulating trigger foods (refined sugars, caffeine, garlic, spicy foods, processed foods, animal foods) are eliminated from the diet and supportive practices introduced.
Phase two is about removing toxins from the deeper tissue layers to be eliminated through the digestive tract. This is all about eating a simple Ayurvedic ‘super food’ called kitchari. This mono-meal of split mung beans and basmati rice with spices and ghee is easy to digest, easy to prepare, and easy to eat (it’s delicious really). In this phase, the body eliminates unwanted sticky substances that may well be the precursors to disease. And subsequently, sends a message to the brain that you are in the process of rejuvenation and healing.
Phase three is sustainability. This the most important phase of any cleanse where awareness around eating and practices for the fall are integrated as foods are reintroduced and good habits solidified.