I’ve been studying Ayurveda for the last few years learning more and more about its immeasurable benefits. Even though it’s an ancient practice, it is still being rediscovered as something new in our modern world. To dive in deeper these recent months, I’ve been dissecting a book I was given as a gift: Handbook of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, An Integrated Practice of Ancient Healing Traditions by Bridgette Shea. What I’ve been learning has enhanced my knowledge of holistic health practices in major ways.
Ayurveda is a health system that is several thousand years old. It is based upon ancient cultural belief systems and the Sankhya philosophy that originates in India. It aligns with other Indian disciplines such as yoga, Vedic astrology, meditation, and Vastu (a traditional Indian guide for architecture similar to feng shui) I’ve always been drawn to slowly incorporating Ayurvedic techniques into my life and learning how to live in alignment with my Dosha. I have to admit though, that this cleanse was one of the most challenging ones I’ve done so far.
The Pre-Cleanse Prep
Before the three days you’ve chosen to do your cleanse on, it is important to do a pre-cleanse at least one week before the first day. During this pre-cleanse you’ll want to make several Ayurvedic healing practices a part of your daily routine. One week before the cleanse, ease into developing these habits:
- Drink water with psyllium husk powder in the morning
- Use a tongue scraper before brushing your teeth in the morning
- Imagine how you want your life to look going forward. Visualize how you want each room to transform in your home
- Lighten your regular schedule and make time to go on walks in nature. Pay attention to your breathing and be sure to meditate daily
- Eliminate meat, alcohol, caffeine, fried foods, cheese, and sugar from your diet
- Avoid upsetting situations such as news broadcasts and violence on television
- Practice abhyanga (the Ayurvedic practice of self-body massage with oil)
Doing these things are important for the preparation of your mental state and physical capacity to withstand the main three days of cleansing. You don’t want your body to be thrown off gaurd. It is always interesting to see what comes up for me when I start to eliminate a lot of the things I love from my diet. I get irritated easily, and I’m a huge snack queen so it’s especially challenging to find alternatives for my cravings during a cleanse.
The Power of Three
Once you’ve prepared with intention and you’re ready to start the cleanse, be gentle with yourself and go for it! During these three days, you’ll do the following:
- Continue the practices you developed into your routine during the pre-cleanse
- Eat kitchari for each meal
- Drink fennel/cumin/coriander digestive tea between meals
- Take a Triphala supplement at night
I can already hear the voices of some of my closest friends saying “Oh hellll nah. I could not eat the same thing all day for three days.” I’m not going to lie folks, it is not easy but just think, it’s only three days. When you decide you want to do this for yourself, to really do it, you’ll have an intention that gets you through. Decide why you want to give yourself this kind of medical attention and let your “why” be your guide.
Post-Cleanse Self Care
After having done this cleanse, I feel really great about it. I also feel pretty proud of myself for having stuck it out the whole way. I have yet to truly understand the extent of the benefits I’ve gained from doing the cleanse, but I imagine there are many. What I do know is that I feel fantastic. I know that I’ve given my body something it needed, even if that’s simply slowing down even more to listen to what it wants.
Following the three days of your cleanse you’ll want to move into post-cleanse practices that will help the transition back into more varieties. Continue to do abhyanga and listen to what your body wants. Your senses will be heightened to the language of your body. Anything in excess will affect you more sincerely, so I encourage patience in your progression back to options outside of the cleanse.
Beleive me when I warn you against jumping back in too quickly. After doing this cleanse for the first time, I hopped on a plane to Jamaica for a girlfriend’s birthday trip and turned all the way up. I was partying all day and night, eating Jamaican beef patties and inhaling all the sugary delights I laid eyes on the entire 5 days. The resort was all-inclusive so it was easy to indulge on anything my heart desired and there was no sign of restraint from me for miles around.
I had completely dishonored all my hard work. The effects of it weren’t too horrible but I could have done without the discomfort I felt from my body being thrown into shock like that. My sleep cycle felt way off. The roof of my mouth became inflamed and sensitive, which I learned is a result of imbalanced Pitta (the Ayurvedic dosha of fire) brought on by an excessive diet. My body was working too hard to process all the different kinds of food I reintroduced too soon and in abundance. I was thinking “Woo hoo! I can eat whatever I want now!” Bad idea.
Life is For the Living
This cleanse is meant to be like a spa vacation for your organs. If you leave the spa and go right back to work instead of lying down and relaxing into your freshly smoothed muscles, you’ll tense right back up. All the massage work and sauna steaming will have been for nothing. So I encourage you, as I remind myself, to take it easy after those crucial three days.
Easing into the life you want creates a more solid foundation to stand on. Just take it one step at a time, bird by bird, brick by brick. I’m a huge visualizer. When I feel stuck or discouraged or feel challenged under the weight of my own limitations, I’ll visualize where I want to be in the future and check to see if my current choice will get me there. Visualize yourself winning the battle against your mind and nothing can stand in your way.
Ayurveda has so many guides to healthy living, I don’t know if I’ll discover them all in one lifetime. Having read, understood and put a few of them into practice so far, I’m sure going to try.