An Introduction to Ayurvedic Cleansing
Welcome to the world of Ayurvedic cleansing! Give yourself a big hug for dedicating the time and energy for deep rejuvenation and detoxification. Because it does take time and energy to cleanse, this points to the biggest successful-cleanse secret I would like to share with you...time and space.
Before you start your cleanse, making sure your calendar is as clear as possible will help ensure your success. The body needs time and space in order to allow the nervous system to relax, helping to facilitate the deep process of detoxification. If you're not able to take extra time off of work, I suggest removing events such as social engagements, workout classes, business meetings, and anything else that isn’t mandatory. It can be challenging to sustain your regular routine when you cleanse because you become so open and sensitive in every aspect of your being.
Setting the Tone
Create space at home by explaining to your family and friends the process you are about to undertake and why. Ask them to be mindful of your need for solitude and minimal stress. Be prepared to let go of social media and any dramatic or violent TV shows or films, as these take up space in our mind. Download Yoga Nidra or guided meditations that will assist the mind and body in letting go of ama (toxins) in the tissues, as well as old emotions held in the body.
Gift yourself all the time and space you need. You are worth it! Allow your body and mind to have the space it needs to heal. Diet, herbs, and treatments are essential aspects to cleansing—the other important key to success is ample downtime. How much you’re able to unwind will directly reflect the outcome of your detox. You will appreciate this extra time for cooking, self-massage, gentle yoga, meditation, and pranayama, as well as tending to any emotions that might come to the surface.
Once you’ve freed up your schedule, you can move on to the next secret of success: gathering all the supplies you will need.
There are varying degrees of cleanses, from a one-week cleanse (either solo or with an online group) to full six-week panchakarma programs. For best results, please try to follow the directions as closely as possible. If you are working with a practitioner and not able to follow the entire protocol, let them know and they may be able to find a solution for you. Consequences of not following directions accurately can range from fatigue and weakened immunity to impaired agni, the ever-important digestive fire.
Sometimes Ayurveda can seem so simple and feel like little is happening. Yet there is a beautiful depth to the cleansing process and, when done correctly, it can shift your health (body, mind, and spirit) dramatically. This will inspire you to come back each season and cleanse anew, discovering more and more layers of vitality and wellness.
Ayurveda’s Carrier Substances
Here’s the skinny on fats. Although fats have had a bad rap for a few decades, modern medicine has begun to see the importance of good quality fats in the diet. Ayurveda, however, has been using fats not only as a healthy part of a balanced diet but also as a powerful herb and spice vehicle for thousands of years! The utilization of fats in this way is called an anupan. Fats such as ghee, sesame oil, coconut milk, and cow’s milk are recognized as anupans and are valued for their ability to carry herbs and formulas deeper into specific tissues.
Two common types of fatty preparations are taila (medicated oil) and ghrita (medicated ghee). They are widely used as potent anupans that go deep into certain tissues and systems, such as the respiratory system, women’s lactation system, marrow and nervous tissue, adipose or fat tissue, muscle tissue, and blood tissue. These formulations enhance life, complexion, strength, and anabolism of the body.
The preparation processes of medicated oil and ghee creates low molecular fatty acids, which affects ease of absorption. Medicated oils contain low molecular fatty acids and are absorbed fast. They can be used in abhyanga for absorption of the herbs through the skin. Medicated ghees are traditionally used in a variety of ways, both externally or internally.
As you can see, in Ayurveda, we love our fats! They deliver herbs and spices deep into the tissues, increase absorption, and are deeply rejuvenative. Below is a delicious recipe that uses ghee as an anupan to bring wonderful benefits.
Dates Soaked in Ghee, Saffron, & SpicesGhee, dates, and saffron are ojas-increasing foods. This recipe is for anyone wishing to increase their immunity and strength, as well as for anyone who is recovering from a surgery, illness, childbirth, or a stressful life experience. The spices and ghee work together to create a perfectly digestible formula for rejuvenation.
Enjoy one date per day.
There are many ways to use healthy fats as an anupan. Some formulas, such as Shatavari Ghee, infuse the herb directly into the fat base, while other recipes use nuts, seeds, or coconut oil as their healthy fat base.
However you choose to add more beneficial fats into your diet, remember you are taking part in a long, healthy tradition.
Introduction to Daily Routine Ayurvedic dry-brushing, called garshana (pronounced gar-shun-uh), promotes lymphatic cleansing and is a powerful way to support the removal of ama (cellular waste products) from the body. Garshana is traditionally done using raw silk or linen gloves, though many prefer to use a natural bristle body brush. This technique is recommended for people who have signs of ama, which may include fatigue, sluggishness, feeling physical or mental dullness, constipation, and a taxed immune system.
Dry brushing is also an excellent practice for the kapha time of year, the season of spring. During the spring months, snow is melting, water has saturated the earth, and flower pollen is carried on the breeze. This is the time of year when kapha can begin to accumulate in the lymph or the sinuses and create stagnation or respiratory congestion. Dry brushing helps to stimulate kapha in the body and encourage movement and drainage of excess mucus.
Because garshana is stimulating, people who are predominantly kapha in their constitution will benefit from practicing garshana daily. Those who are predominantly pitta can do this practice 4–5 times per week. And those with more vata would best benefit from doing this practice 2–4 times per week. (To find out which dosha is most predominate for you, take this quiz). If your skin is on the dryer side or you are prone to experience mental anxiety (indications of increased vata), it is important to do abhyanga(Ayurvedic self-massage) with warm oil after dry brushing to lubricate the skin. This helps to bring vata dosha back into balance by calming the nervous system.
Guidelines for Garshana—The Traditional Ayurvedic Dry Massage