You’ve been feeling more sluggish and tired lately. Your energy level just isn’t what it used to be. After you eat, all you want to do is take a nap. And even your thinking isn’t as clear and sharp as you’d like.
Even though you may be careful of what you put in your body, it's inevitable in our society that you'll be exposed to some external pollutants. According to Ayurveda, your digestive fire has to digest EVERYTHING that you're exposed to: all of the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and exposures through the skin. It also has to digest all the emotions and thoughts that arise from everything that you're exposed to. This is a tall order, and most of us experience some toxic build-up that leads to blocked channels in the body and imbalances in our health.
Physical signs that these toxins have built up include decreased energy; a heavy coating on the tongue; foul body, breath, and stool odor; indigestion and excessive flatulence; body aches; foggy thinking; and sleepiness after eating. It's always best to get checked out by your doctor to make sure these signs are not related to a diagnosable illness.
An Ayurvedic cleanse focuses on resetting that digestive fire, allowing it to rest and strengthen. The detoxifying nature also supports the body’s own natural mechanisms to remove built up toxins from the body. It’s a bit like cleaning out the pipes when the drain gets clogged, or hopefully even before the drain gets clogged.
While a full cleanse (called panchakarma) should be done under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner, a simpler food-based home cleanse offers many of the resetting and rejuvenating benefits; this can be a great thing to do for yourself if you don’t have the time or flexibility to do a full program right away. The traditional Ayurvedic recommendation is that a cleanse should be done at the changing of each season, but you can also do the food-based cleanse whenever you feel that your body just needs a tune-up.
A one-week food-based home cleanse can be summed up in the following 5 easy steps:
1. Start a kitchari diet.
Kitchari is an easy-to-make and easy-to-digest complete meal, made with rice, yellow mung dal, spices, clarified butter and vegetables. For one week, eat this for all of your meals, and you will see the cleansing and simultaneously nourishing effect that it has on your body.
2. Avoid snacks.
This is the best way to reset your digestion, remove toxins, and even lose weight! But you don’t need to starve yourself. If you're hungry, have warm, cooked foods that use the same ingredients as kitchari: rice porridge, steamed or stir-fried veggies, etc. Just remember that your digestion will work best if you give it at least five to six hours between meals.
3. Sip hot water and detox tea in the morning and throughout the day.
This also helps reset the digestion and cleanse toxins. Staying well hydrated is key. If needed, also drink room temperature water to ensure you get plenty of fluids. Be sure to avoid ice, cold drinks and caffeine.
4. Do a daily self-massage with warm oil.
You’ll find this is a great way to treat yourself and relax. In an Ayurvedic cleanse, a self-massage serves to facilitate the removal of built-up toxins so they can be eliminated as waste. The warm oil also calms and rejuvenates the nervous system.
5. Take 2 tablets of Triphala (or ½ teaspoon of powdered Triphala) at bedtime.
This herbal remedy promotes rejuvenation of the tissues while also supporting healthy bowel movements.
Once you have finished the cleanse, take a few days to reintroduce other elements of your normal diet back into the picture, waiting a few extra days to add heavier foods like dairy and meat. If there are other habits that you know aren’t serving your health, now is a great time to let them go. And if you found portions of the cleanse beneficial, like the self–massage or Triphala, feel free to incorporate them into your long-term daily routine.
And to understand more about the reasons for and benefits of cleansing, read my e-book, Ayurvedic Cleanse: Waste Be Gone!