A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I did a seven-day cleanse. Periodic cleansing is considered an important part of an Ayurvedic lifestyle; the goal of Ayurveda is both prevention and cure. An Ayurvedic cleanse strengthens the body’s capacity for repair and renewal.
During the pandemic, we have all experimented with mindless eating and existing. Living on the edge, constantly grieving and coping, and meandering through alleys of unknown has wreaked havoc on our well-being. Stress creates toxins in our mind as well as body. Be it fear, anxiety, anger, depression, nervousness, feeling low on patience… Ayurveda has an explanation for them. If we don’t detox our mind and body periodically, we start to hold space for ailments.
Because cleansing helps reinvigorate the body’s best internal defense mechanisms, the process can be both preventative as well as curative. During the cleanse, you give up certain foods and beverages for a period to detoxify your mind-body-spirit. Remember, every part of us is connected. The specific approach to cleanse should always take into consideration one’s constitution and current state of doshic imbalance, strength, health, and age, as well as environmental and seasonal influences.
The seasons reflect all three doshas — vata, kapha, and pitta. We are in the kapha season (the transition from winter to spring is considered a kapha season) and about to get into pitta (summertime) season. One dosha is alleviating and the other is accumulating. Have you noticed that we tend to fall sick when seasons change? This transition period between seasons is when we are most vulnerable.
I have clients with kapha imbalance who tell me that during this time of the year, they struggle with complacency and motivation. Not wanting to get out of bed, sleeping excessively, being unreasonably attached to people or incidents, feeling overly sentimental, hoarding, and shopping mindlessly are some other signs of a vitiated kapha. Some other indications might be lethargy, congestion, mucous, depression, foggy mind, excessive napping, stagnation, sluggish bowel movements, slow digestion, greed, attachment issues, seasonal allergies, stubbornness, skin tags, wet cough, obesity, water retention, feeling heavy or drowsiness after eating, etc.
Why We Did the 7-Day Cleanse
Doing a detox or cleanse to eliminate excess dosha from the body and tissues can be healing. I felt my digestion was slightly sluggish. For someone who doesn’t catch a cold easily or feel low energy, I was feeling both wiped out as well as congested. When you don’t feel 100% like yourself, do you see how it starts to impact your life?
Most Ayurvedic cleanses are centered around simplifying the diet and, in some cases, adding supportive lifestyle practices. The goal of the Ayurvedic cleanse is to balance and strengthen the agni (digestive fire) and restore the body’s natural intelligence. Thankfully, there are many ways to go about the process, and there is generally something for everyone. The overall structure, length, intensity, and depth can all be adapted to support the individual. For an in-house, simple version, this is what we did.
· Gave up certain foods (temporarily) for your own good—the ones that create mucus and inflammation.
· Doing so can clean up your body and bring it back to balance.
· This also reduces “ama,” which is toxins.
What We Ate:
Delicious, nutritious, home-cooked, fresh, organic meals that left us satiated.
What We Didn’t Eat:
gluten, dairy, desserts, restaurant food, or any alcohol.
The Cleanse Helped:
- Restore a sense of calm
- Lower agitation and distraction
- Reset the nervous system
- Promote clarity and inherent, internal stability
- Explore an improved sense of enthusiasm for life
- Support the skin
- Recover energy, vitality, and natural state of balance
- Cultivate a balanced sleep cycle
- Stimulate balanced elimination
- Nourish the tissues
- Promote optimal health
The Challenges We Faced:
- The idea of giving up dessert made me nervous, but we did great! No cravings!
- Alcohol, intentionally, is a very rare indulgence so that wasn’t an issue.
- We don’t include gluten in our day-to-day diet (unless it’s the weekend), but the challenge was to pay attention to how often gluten creeps up in condiments.
- Not using dairy wasn’t difficult either because it’s a rare indulgence in our home. But I did miss Häagen-Dazs ice creams and masala chai on some days.
As a result of the seven-day cleanse, truly profound changes happened. My mind-body felt lighter. People complimented us, saying that we were glowing. Ayurveda teaches us that our skin reflects our digestion. There was also a direct impact on our productivity and overall well-being as the “fog” lifted. These are powerful outcomes from Ayurvedic or other kinds of cleanses. I do them during the change of seasons and when I feel that I need to reset my baseline health at very deep levels.
That said, please speak with your health practitioner before starting any kind of detox or cleanse and be sure your body is ready for a change in diet and lifestyle. I have written about my personal experience and take on a 5,000-year science of healing, which is Ayurveda. Talk to an Ayurvedic practitioner to get the right kind of guidelines for your body — should you choose to do an Ayurvedic cleanse. There are different kinds of cleanses out there.
“Because we cannot scrub our inner body, we need to learn a few skills to help cleanse our tissues, organs, and mind. This is the art of Ayurveda.” ~ Sebastian Pole
To learn more about Sweta Vikram’s journey with Ayurveda on SEEMA, check out Managing Pandemic Stress with Ayurveda