Fall is a time of year that signals change. According to the ancient studies of Ayurveda the energies around us are shifting from pitta to kapha. Our bodies have stored up so much pitta from the fiery summer, and we need to cleanse it out to prepare our constitutions for a slower, cooler, sweeter winter.
There are so many cleanses out there, but what I’m going to introduce you to today is an Autumn Ayurveda cleanse. This is not a starvation diet. It will not make you skinnier. Instead, we’ll focus on slowing down the digestion to allow the body to rid itself of toxins. We’ll take a minute to be with ourselves, to slow down, to be selfish; so that the rest of the year we can be active and giving.
Twice a year, as we move into spring, and as we move into fall, it is healthy to allow yourself this time. Read on for a description of an Autumn Ayurveda cleanse. This routine can be followed for anywhere from 3-10 days.
While on the cleanse, you are going to eat a diet of kitchari for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Kitchari is made with mung beans, basmati rice, and a special herb blend that includes turmeric, fennel, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ginger, natural mineral salt and asafoetida.
Each evening, make a batch for the following day. When you go to eat your kitchari, make sure it’s always warm. All throughout this cleanse, you want to consume only warm foods and liquids. You’ll start with a little bit at breakfast to kickstart your digestion, and then you’ll have your biggest meal at lunch. In the evening, consume a smaller portion for dinner. At lunch you may pair the kitchari with steamed vegetables or a soft/hard boiled egg if you wish. Just make sure that you’re not cooking anything in fat ie. olive oil, butter, coconut oil, etc. If you’re hungry, eat more kitchari. You should never feel starved while on this cleanse.
Here is how to make your kitchari.
1 Cup split yellow mung dahl
1/2 Cup basmati rice
1-2 Tsp kitcharee spice mix
1 Tsp grated or minced ginger
Cilantro and lemon to garnish
Salt to taste
Wash the rice and beans to remove extra starches
In a large soup pot, add beans, ginger, and chitchat spice mix with 10 cups of water. Let cook for about 15 minutes.
Add rice and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
In the mornings, you’ll use a tongue scraper first thing. Scrape from the back to the front of your tongue seven times to remove the residue that has built up overnight. Then prepare a warm drink of water or herbal tea. After you’ve had your tea, indulge in 15-20 minutes of gentle yoga. Nothing crazy, you want to take it easy while you’re on your cleanse. Just stretch it out and move with your breath for a short time. This will get the prana moving. Once you’ve had your yoga time, fill your belly with some kitchari, and go about your day.
While your cleansing internally, you can help activate the process from the outside as well. Either in the evening or in the morning, you will practice Abhyanga, a form of self massage. This helps release toxins held in the muscles, so that your internal system can flush them out. To perform abhyanga, first heat some water on the stove top. Then immerse a mason jar of sesame oil in the water, so that the hot water can warm the oil inside. To perform the massage, start at your feet and hands, massaging toward your heart with the warm oil. On joints, massage in a circular motion, and in between the joints use long linear strokes. Massage your scalp, around your nostrils, your ear lobes, get every crevice, but don’t massage over your entire face. After you’ve done your massage, let the oil sit for 20 minutes before hopping in the shower. This is a great time to journal or meditate. Once you’re in the shower, just rinse the oil off, don’t use soap.
Throughout your cleanse be sure to drink warm liquids. Heat your water, drink herbal tea (not caffeine!), or sip down warm organic unsweetened almond milk. You want everything that goes into your body to be warm.
In the evenings, you’ll take a slight laxative and powerful antioxidant called triphala. You’ll want to take this supplement on an empty stomach, so its suggested to do so right before bed. Heat up some water, like you would for tea, and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of triphala powder. Let steep for 15 minutes and then drink down, dregs and all.
On days 4-6 of your cleanse, you will practice therapeutic intake of fat (ghee). This treatment is designed to mobilize fat soluble toxins stored deep in the tissues. Thirty minutes after waking up, you will drink down warm ghee on an empty stomach. Each day, you will increase your dosage by two tablespoons, starting at with two on the first day. After you’ve taken your ghee, do not eat until you feel absolutely hungry.
Throughout your cleanse, take the time to reflect. You allocate this time for yourself, so be sure to pay attention. What thoughts and emotions come up? What differences do you notice in your body? Be slow, thoughtful, and introspective.