The Perfect Cleanse for Yogis: Kitchari
Ayurveda is the 5,000 year old sister science of yoga; it translates to “knowledge of life” in Sanskrit. Do you need a mental, physical or spiritual reset? Are you fatigued or feeling out of balance? Try this balancing Ayurvedic cleanse.
What is Kitchari (AKA Kichadi, Khichari or Kichari)?
This cleanse is based on a dish called kichadi or kitchari and cumin, coriander, fennel tea. Kitchari consists of split mung beans and basmati rice, with spices and herbs. It is balancing to the body, harmonious to mind and easy to digest. Try this cleanse for a day, week or even longer; just listen to your body. You can try this cleanse as the seasons change, but spring is a particularly powerful time to reset.
Tridoshic Kitchari Recipe
Half a medium onion finely diced
1 inch fresh peeled ginger, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon hing or asafoetida (reduces the gaseous nature of beans)
1 cup split mung dal
3/4 cup white basmati rice
1/2 bunch spinach (or other vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, etc.)
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt/rock salt
4 1/2 cups water (add more water for soup-like texture or less for a drier stew)
4 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Garnishes: parsley, lime, sesame seeds and/or cilantro
Wash the dal and rice until the rinse water is clear; drain well. Heat the ghee on medium in a pan. Add the onions and ginger to sauté until tender. Add the cumin, fennel, coriander, and hing and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the dal and rice to the mixture. Sauté for a few more minutes and add the cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir, and lower the heat. Simmer on low until tender with the lid on (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile, wash and chop the vegetables. Add the greens to the top of the mixture and replace the cover. Allow to steam on top for 5-8 minutes. When done, add salt and stir. Garnish with a squeeze of lime, fresh cilantro or parsley, a dollop of ghee and toasted sesame seeds.
Cumin Coriander Fennel Tea
Take 2 teaspoons each of cumin, coriander and fennel. Add them to boiling water. Turn the heat down and let simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and sip warm tea throughout the day.
Other considerations: if you are going through a divorce, moving or changing jobs, try the gentle techniques of dinacharya, instead of a cleanse.
Yoga For Your Doshas: Pitta
It’s one of those days: You had a project due at work and even though everything was going according to plan, someone had to take it a different direction at the last minute. Why did they not realize that you know best and things should be done your way? No wonder you are feeling a little short-tempered.
Coming home you notice that your dog chewed on your favourite new heels and you have a water stain on your beautiful teak coffee table from the tea bag your honey left laying around (again, not using a coaster). You feel the pressure building as steam comes out of your ears and your face turns a rich shade of scarlet. In short, your Pitta Dosha is stretched to its limits and your are off balance. You need to cool down.
According to Ayurveda, Yoga’s five thousand year old sister science, everything is governed by the natural elements of air, space, fire, water and earth. Each of these elements are associated with one, or in some cases two, of the Ayurvedic Doshas; the constitutional types. Vata Dosha, which I spoke about in part I of this series, is governed by space and air; Pitta Dosha is governed by fire and water, and Kapha Dosha is associated with water and earth.
Each of these Doshas are linked to certain qualities and can be pacified or aggravated by inner and outer circumstances that display these qualities.
What Dosha Are You?
In this article I will address Pitta, the Dosha that is governed predominantly by fire. If you are a little bit hot headed, have a “my way or the highway” attitude and would much rather go skiing down the slopes than lay in the tropical sun, you will want to read on.
Cool As A Cucumber: Food for Pitta
The flavors that sweeten a hot-headed and hot-bodied Pitta person are sweet, bitter and astringent. The tastes most aggravating to this type are salty, sour and pungent. The Pitta type tends toward acidity, and this may surface in heart burn and inflammatory conditions. Keeping a lightly alkaline blood environment is beneficial for Pitta and can be achieved by eating lots of yummy green leafy and alkaline veggies. Sweet and cooling fruit, such as sweet mangoes, apples berries and melon (particularly watermelon which is sweet and cooling in nature and has many healing benefits) are great choices for your diet. Sipping cool (never cold) water with a spritz of lime or lemon is a great way to keep a cool temper and keep your blood from boiling.
Pitta and Exercise
If you are a Pitta person, you likely love yourself some friendly competition both in your athletic endeavors, and in your personal and business life. Getting into a sport that requires a certain skill level and allows you to achieve and compete will likely give you a much needed outlet for your competitive and perfectionist work style. Competitive sports, such as running, cycling, playing tennis or racket ball, or even training for a body building competition, will give you a sense of purpose while jiving with your sense of drive and achievement.
There’s nothing wrong with being a little competitive, but you’ll want to consider a cooling or calming activity to balance your Dosha. Consider swimming (sure, compete if you must) as an active form of cooling refreshment with the added ability to push and challenge you. You will be a very happy Pitta camper if you allow yourself regular evening walks in the cooling moonlight, especially when sharing this down time with a sweet friend or loving partner.
Be Still: Meditation for Pitta
The Pitta person tends to be strong willed, determined and driven, and is often busy pondering and planning out new endeavors. If you are a Pitta planner and leader you may know how difficult it is for you to step out of busy mode to chill and relax. Meditation is a fantastic tool for Pittas who need to take a break from thinking and planning. Spend time calming your mind, and you’ll resurface feeling refreshed, with new ideas and increased problem solving skills.
The Pitta mind responds well to a meditation centered around soothing sound, smells, and colors. You may wish to listen to calming sounds of water or light a scented candle with a fresh cooling scent. Surrounding yourself with cool and light colors, or focusing your gaze on a cooling and calming Yantra, will guide your mind into a peaceful and tranquil state. Gentle or cooling Pranayama (breath work) such as Shitali or Sitkari Pranayama will also soothe your temper and focus your mind.
If you are of high Pitta constitution, you’ll be drawn to hot yoga classes like a bee to honey. But remember that hot yoga, Vinyasa flow classes and traditional Ashtanga are styles best practiced in moderation.
The often A-type-ish Pitta person likes nothing more then working hard and reaping the benefits in business, their relationship, or in physical activity. Pitta tends to be of a strong and agile build and they like to move and sweat. To balance the challenge of the challenge with cooling calmness and to keep from over extending your limits, consider switching your Hot Yoga shorts for comfy casual wear and a Restorative or Yin style class once or twice per week. Forward bends and twists in particular are beneficial for Pitta as they are cooling and have a refreshing and rejuvenating effect on the blood and lymphatic system, thus allowing for optimal oxygen-blood exchange that is perfect for releasing built-up heat and tension from the midsection, while also fueling the mind.
The Pitta Motto
For you, dear Pitta type, relaxation should be your preferred motto. Staying calm, cool and collected while focusing and leading your team to success is the perfect balance. Remember to take time out for family, friends, loved ones and to enjoy the sweetness life has in store for you.