Ayurvedic Cleansing Tips for Radiant Health
Cleansing twice a year during the seasonal changes of Spring and Fall is highly recommended in helping you to reduce the presence of toxic buildup in your body and mind while allowing you to build a stronger power of digestion and immunity. In Ayurveda the term for the toxins that build up in the system is Ama, while the power of digestion is called Agni. Below are some tips on how to build your Agni and reduce your Ama so that you can enjoy radiant health and wellness all year long.
What is Agni?
Agni is the Sanskrit word for the digestive fire that stimulates the breakdown of nutrients that we take into our bodies and it is considered the cornerstone of good health. In general when we speak about Agni we are speaking of the digestive capabilities of the body and specifically the Agni that is situated in the lower stomach and small intestines (Jathara Agni), but actually there are 13 different Agni’s that govern all metabolic functions and it can be said that all processes involving heat, light, transformation and conversion relate to Agni.
So a strong and healthy Agni allows for the absorption, assimilation, metabolism, and digestion of nutrients from food but also allows for proper sense perception, cellular metabolism and mental assimilation. In short a healthy Agni affects both body and mind, which means that when we are cleansing we would be wise to become conscious of all that we take in to our bodies and minds through both our diet and our environment.
Signs of healthy Agni are:
- Strong digestive capabilities & a steady appetite
- Bright eyes & vibrant skin
- Pain free joints
- A desire for nourishing foods
- An aversion to foods and substances that are unhealthy
- Steady clear moods
- Healthy immune response
- Clean smelling urine, feces, and sweat
- A strong sense of energy that carries us through the day
- Inspiration and excitement for life
- A focused mind with an ability to grasp new information
Ways to Strengthen Your Agni:
- Don’t overeat (food or information!)
- Eat at regular mealtimes and avoid eating late at night
- Avoid ice cold drinks, especially with meals
- Sip warm water throughout the day
- Get enough sleep (the hours before midnight are worth twice as much as the hours after midnight!)
- Spice your food with gentle warming herbs such as Cumin, Ginger, or small amounts of Cayenne
- Get regular exercise
- Meditate daily or at least allow time for silence and stillness in your day
What is Ama?
Ama is a toxic residue that is formed within the channels and organs of the body from our undigested food. When our Agni (digestive fire) is impaired and we are unable to break down what we take in our ability to absorb nutrients is weakened and the slower process of digestion leads to the formation of Ama in the body. In the same way if we are taking in too much information and not allowing ourselves time to digest it our minds will also become overburdened resulting in mental Ama the signs or which are confusion or depression.
Ayurveda links most health disorders to the presence of Ama in the system and views it as one of the greatest threats to good health, both mental and physical. When our Agni (digestive process) is strong than we are able to process Ama easily, and for this reason seasonal cleanses are fabulous for prevention of disease and maintenance of vibrant health as they give our systems the opportunity to clean up anything we weren’t able to digest.
Signs of Ama buildup are:
- Weak digestion resulting in chronic constipation, diarrhea, or gas
- Bad breathe and a coated tongue in the morning
- Dull skin or skin that is prone to breakouts
- Dull or irritated eyes
- Aching joints
- Lack of appetite
- Unhealthy cravings
- Strong body odor
- Fatigue that is constant
- Frequent colds and recurring infections
- Depression or lack of motivation
- Brain fog
- Lack of zest for life
- Frequent feelings of overwhelm
Ways to Reduce Ama:
- Follow the tips below for strengthening Agni
- Do seasonal cleanses in the Spring and Fall
- Eat a primarily whole foods diet
- Avoid all processed and refined foods
- Exercise regularly to increase circulation and assist your body in moving ama out of the channels of the body
- Dry brush or take steam baths as often as possible
- Drink more water and herbal tea
- Reduce clutter in your home, let go of anything you no longer use
- Allow time for emptiness each day by eating only when you are truly hungry and not filing every moment of the day with activity
- Make a practice of reviewing your year, making peace with your mistakes, and creating life-affirming intentions on your birthday or whenever you celebrate the new year.
9 Ayurvedic Rituals for Youthful Vitality
I love the buzzword “longevity”. Saying it almost makes me feel five years younger. Try it.
Don’t we wish it were that easy? We have tried the “low carb” diet and the “eat right for your blood type” diet. We heard about the power of goji and acai berries and so on, and we believed that the magic anti-aging pills would actually work. We believed these multi-million dollar industries that avowed that their products would indeed remove ten years from our being.
The truth of the matter is that it takes serious effort and a massively strong will for changes to occur.
The good news is that if we make the optimal “choice” of changing our lifestyle habits, we can attain that beloved state of being which radiates “youthfulness” even late into our eighties. By beginning to take seriously the task of obtaining balance over your own health and wellbeing, and committing fully and wholeheartedly to a set of healthful daily habits, the universe will be at your service.
The 5,000 year old science of Ayurveda holds all the secrets to living, maintaining and preserving a sweet long life, in all respects to our constant dance of life.
Attaining a human life, according to the Vedas, Buddhism and old Ayurvedic scriptures (such as Cakara Samhita) is by far the greatest gift nature endowed on us humans. This gift makes it so that we can conquer the most profound of goals possible: nirvana/moksha or liberation.
It is indeed our birthright to realize our true selves.
Such lucky humans are we.
According to Ayurveda (Dr. Arindham Chatterjee of Global Ayu Care in New Delhi, India), by following 70% of the techniques and tools suggested by the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda, one can truly attain well-rounded health of mind and body. Viva! This is in fact an attainable goal.
9 Regimens for Youth and Vitality
It might be impossible to introduce all of the following rituals at once. Take your time and try two at a time. It won’t take long to get a taste of success.
- Immediately upon rising (hopefully slightly before sunrise) brush your teeth, scrape your tongue and drink a cup of warm water with lemon. Toxins accumulate on the tongue while we sleep and we don’t want to introduce them back into our system. Tongue scraping acts to stimulate and massage the internal organs. The water with lemon kick starts the liver for a brand new day of work.
- Splash open eyes with clean water. This practice strengthens the eyes, improves eyesight, clears the mind and recharges mental energy.
- Self-massage with appropriate oils a minimum of three times per week. Don’t forget to include the ears. Self-massage ignites your internal pharmacy, according to Deepak Chopra, and stimulates all the systems of your body.
- Exercise daily. This includes either a daily yoga practice or a daily practice of the 5 Tibetans (fountain of youth).
- Eat only when hungry. Aim to eat Sattvic foods (pure foods). Ayurvedically speaking, eating only when you’re hunger rises means that you are responding to the urges of the body appropriately. Learn how to differentiate hunger, from eating for the sake of eating.
- Utilize turmeric in your cooking. Turmeric is considered the most medicinal Indian herb. Its powerful healing benefits help to clear infections, fight inflammation and support joint function. It also works to promote healthy skin and aids in digestion.
- Fast at least once per month. The term fasting does no have to mean avoiding food completely. One can fast on solids or grains for twenty-four hours in order to simply give your digestive system a break.
- Triphala before bedtime. If you had to choose one herb out of the thousands of herbs used in Ayurvedic Medicine, Triphala would be the one. Triphala translates to “three fruits” and is comprised of Amalaki, Bibhataki and Haritaki, which are three of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. Triphala is known as a rasayana, which means that it rejuvenates and strengthens the tissues–specifically as it cleanses and tonifies the gastro-intestinal tract.
- Meditate every day. A regular meditation practice will calm the mind. Learning to observe the movements of the mind is paramount to helping us to make conscious choices, live in the moment and face the daily battles of life from a much more detached place of acceptance.
Unlock your inner healing powers; you are your own healer.
For another perspective on increasing your longevity, watch the documentary The Immortalists.
Learn How to Meditate
Whether you’re looking to cultivate more authenticity, increase happiness, improve relationships, or reduce stress, all of these things are accessible to you through the practice of meditation. Learn how Gaia can help you transform your life in our Beginner’s Guide to Meditation.