Whether you want to recharge during the changing of the seasons, boost your vitality, restore your energy levels, or refresh your system, an Ayurvedic cleanse is a powerful ancient method that has stood the test of time. Not only is it engrained in millennia-old Eastern science, but modern Western scientists are now starting to uncover Ayurveda’s value in a present-day setting…
What Is Ayurveda?
This ancient holistic healing science originated in India around 5,000 years ago. It is a vast and detailed system designed to help people live a healthy, balanced life, built around a sophisticated knowledge of the human mind-body connection, which has since been accepted in mainstream Western science. Ayurveda is traditionally considered the science of life, and directly translates to ‘life knowledge’ from Sanskrit. It focuses on optimum physical health, along with mental and emotional wellbeing. As well as treating poor health with techniques such as cleansing and healing remedies, the emphasis is on becoming your healthiest self, both in the body and the mind, in order to avoid illnesses.
What Is An Ayurvedic Cleanse?
Put simply, an Ayurvedic cleanse is performed to draw out toxins and balance the body. According to the ancient Indian practice, your digestive fire has to digest everything, from sights, spells and sounds to tastes, emotions and skin exposures. In order to understand what that means, you need to understand the three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha, which, according to Ayurveda, need to be in balance. Vata energy reflects space and air, and is linked to movement, breath and circulation. Pita energy is comprised of fire and water, and when it is out of balance, can cause ulcers and inflammation. Kapha elements include earth and water, with characteristics including affection, compassion and a peaceful nature. An Ayurvedic cleanse means drawing toxins out of the body, and also drawing out excess vata, pitta and kapha from the tissues into the digestive tract to eliminate them, unblocking channels and imbalances. Sound a little too ‘out there’ for you? It’s actually not all that ‘out there’ anymore, and modern Western science is studying and using Ayurvedic science to understand health and nutrition better, especially in terms of prevention instead of treatment.
An Ayurvedic cleanse aims to reset your digestive fire, allowing it to rest and strengthen. By detoxifying and resting the system, cleansing also supports the body’s natural ability to remove built up toxins. A full Ayurvedic medical cleanse, called panchakarma involves five detoxifying treatments, including massage, herbal therapy, sound therapy, and other treatments and methods. It is highly individualized, depending on the needs, age, digestive strength, immune system and other factors of the person. This intense panchakarma cleanse should only ever be conducted under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner. A simple food-based cleanse, on the other hand, is a great way of resetting the system and cleansing the body, and can be done at home. Traditionally, Ayurvedic cleansing would be done at the changing of the season (kind of like a spring clean for the body, but four times a year). This is the ideal, however, a food-based cleanse can be beneficial at any time when your body feels like it needs a clean out or health kick.
The body is extremely intelligent and works very hard to get rid of harmful substances and use beneficial nutrients where they are needed. However, with the inundation of environmental toxins, processed foods, suppressed emotions and psychological stress that it has to deal with nowadays, we are asking it to do a lot, and more than our ancestors’ bodies had to deal with. As a result, toxins do build up in the system to some degree, park themselves in the tissues, and mess with your health. An Ayurvedic cleanse works by minimizing the variety and complexity of potential toxins into the body, allowing it to rest, recuperate and repair. In response to the slowing down of toxic inputs, the body will immediately kick into action, deep cleaning your entire system.
How Do I Know If I Have A Build Up Of Toxins?
There are a number of basic and easily identified signs that your body needs a cleanse, including decreased energy levels, heavy coating on the tongue, bad body or breath odor, indigestion, excess flatulence, aches and pains, and a lack of concentration. Of course, your doctor should be your first port of call if you feel really out of the ordinary or unwell, but if it doesn’t turn out to be a diagnosable illness, you might just need to cleanse and detox, in which case, this practice might work for you.
Benefits Of An Ayurvedic Cleanse
The whole Ayurvedic system has an enormous array of health benefits, both physically and mentally, and an Ayurvedic cleanse has a number of its own, including:
- Elimination of toxins from the body
- Increase in energy levels
- Healthy weight management support
- Better and more restful sleep
- Calming the mind and relaxing the nervous system
- Promoting overall health and wellness
- Restoring balance in the body
A Step-By-Step Guide To A Food-Based Home Ayurvedic Cleanse
Again, it’s important to seek medical advice from your doctor if you are feeling particularly ill, tired or down. If there is no diagnosable problem, and you feel like you just need to cleanse and repair the body from the inside-out, you can try a four-step Ayurvedic cleanse.
Step 1 – Preparation
You should actually start preparing for your cleanse a few days before beginning. During the three days leading up to it, start improving your diet and eating habits, eliminating coffee, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and any other recreational drugs. Either eliminate or significantly reduce your intake of processed foods, meat and refined sugar, and try to just eat whole foods like vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, nuts, legumes and seeds.
Step 2 – Active Cleansing
This is where you begin the actual cleanse after ‘warming up’ so to speak in the lead-up. Seven days is a good number to follow the Ayurvedic cleansing diet, where you can eat a very simplified mono-diet of kitchari, which is basmati rice and split mung beans. By only eating this cleansing meal, you will still have the strength and ability to maintain any essential responsibilities you have, like work and family commitments, but your digestive system will also be given a rest. This will allow your body to eliminate toxins and balance your vata, pitta and kapha energies.
During the seven-day cleanse, rise early, scrape your tongue (details below) and brush your teeth. Sip a small amount of warm to hot water to cleanse the system and alert your digestive system that your overnight fast is over. You can then perform an Ayurvedic self-massage (details below), but this is optional – it gets the lymphatic system moving to rid the body of toxins. Another optional routine you can enjoy is a steam bath or sauna followed by a bath or shower. Perform some gentle exercise, like yoga stretches, but don’t push yourself physically. The focus of the cleanse is rest and rejuvenation. Next, eat your kitchari breakfast.
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