Sluggish digestion? Skin looking lackluster? Feeling bloated, dull, and lethargic? These are all signs it might be time to do an easy Ayurvedic cleanse. In Ayurveda, cleanses are recommended from time to time to help your body clear out ama (accumulated toxins) so you can feel lighter, brighter, and more clear again.
There are two different kinds of detoxification programs recommended by Maharishi Ayurveda: 1) self-detox (involving diet, herbal preparations, and daily routine) and 2) panchakarma (a more in-depth, spa cleansing program supervised by Ayurvedic experts). We’ll be discussing the first type, which you can easily do yourself, in this article.
Why Do An Ayurvedic Cleanse?
The purpose of any Ayurvedic detox is to rid your body of ama, or toxins. Simply put, ama is the byproduct of incomplete digestion. Sticky, white, and foul-smelling, it forms in the digestive tract when the food you eat is not digested properly. Left unchecked, it can travel from your digestive tract to a weak area elsewhere in the body and settle there. Usually it blocks the shrotas (microcirculatory channels) and disrupts the flow of nutrients to the area, as well as the body's natural waste removal systems.
You can do an Ayurvedic detox any time of year, but the spring is an especially good time, as your body naturally begins to cast off impurities accumulated over the year. This article will teach you everything you need to know about cleansing the Ayurvedic way.
The Ayurvedic Detox Difference: Using Your Body’s Own Intelligence
Ayurvedic cleanses are safe, gentle, and employ your body's natural detoxification systems, including the bowel, kidneys, urine, skin, sweat glands, and liver. Ayurvedic detoxes are never harsh or forceful—instead, they simply support and enhance your body's innate ability to release toxins.
Another thing that makes Ayurvedic cleansing unique is that every detox program cleanses all of your body's natural purification systems at once in a coordinated way, rather than just addressing one part. Unlike harsh cleanses that target one part of your body and leave the others depleted, Ayurvedic cleanses actually leave your body’s natural purificatory channels stronger and more efficient after the treatment is over.
Last but not least, Ayurvedic cleanses take care not to disturb the doshas (mind/body elements), dhatus (bodily tissues), or flow of the malas (bodily wastes). They also support the health of the shrotas, the large and small channels that provide the path for toxins to leave the body, so that embedded impurities, once loosened, can be flushed out of your body completely and quickly.
How to Do an At-Home Ayurvedic Detox
Every Ayurvedic detoxification program has three steps: preparation, cleansing, and post-cleansing. Let’s start with the first one.
STEP ONE: Prepare for Self-Detox (15 Days)
Preparation is actually the most important part of an Ayurvedic detox program. To prepare your body for detoxification, you must first balance your agni, or digestive fire by following a basic detox diet. If possible, it’s also good to connect with a vaidya (Ayurvedic expert), who can give you specific herbal recommendations tailored to your unique constitution and state of balance. If not, the detox diet is a great place to start your cleanse.
Here are the basic Detox Diet recommendations:
Eat ama-reducing foods. Favor vegetarian foods that are lighter, warm, cooked, and digestible. Avoid heavy dairy products such as cheese or yogurt (although lassi is good), foods that are fried or oily, raw foods of any kind, heavy desserts, and foods with refined sugar and honey, as these are harder to digest and create ama. Avoid yeasted breads and dry breads such as crackers. Freshly-made flat breads, freshly-made soups and dhals, organic vegetables cooked with spices, and freshly-made grains are ideal.
Avoid ama-producing foods. In general, you'll want to avoid foods that produce ama, such as leftovers and non-fresh foods such as packaged, canned, or frozen foods. You'll also want to avoid foods that create garvisha (ama caused by chemicals), such as nonorganic foods, foods grown with chemicals, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and foods with chemical additives.
Favor a diet rich in fruits, veggies, and spices. The following foods are especially helpful in detoxifying:
Vegetables: cooked leafy greens, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
Grains: quinoa, barley, amaranth, rice, and kanji (rice water).
Spices: ginger, turmeric, coriander, fennel, and fenugreek. These spices help open up the channels and support the flow of toxins from the skin, urinary tract, colon, and liver.
- Choose foods according to your body type or imbalances. This will help regulate your agni. For more information on diets and foods for pacifying each of the three doshas, visit the recipes section.
- Drink plenty of hot water throughout the day to flush toxins out of the body through the urine. Or better still, choose one of the detoxifying herbal waters mentioned later in this newsletter.
Here are the basic detox lifestyle tips:
- Get enough rest. You may need more sleep while detoxifying. It's also important to go to bed early (before 10 p.m.) and get up early (before 6 a.m.), as both staying up late and sleeping late in the morning can flood the shrotas with toxins.
- Exercise each day. Gentle exercise such as yoga asanas and walking can support detoxification by improving digestion and elimination and moving toxins out of the body. Walking for twenty minutes or half an hour is ideal, because it allows you to breathe deeply, purify the respiratory system and supply the cells with cleansing prana. During the preparation for detox and the actual self-detox program, it's best to avoid strenuous exercise.
Massage daily. One of the most important purification procedures in Ayurveda is warm oil massage (abhyanga), and you can do it every day on your own. Abhyanga loosens impurities from your shrotas and tissues, allowing them to flow into the digestive tract, where they can be easily eliminated through the bowel. While you're detoxifying, take a little extra time with your morning massage, and you'll magnify the results many times.
Use warm massage oil with herbs added, such as Youthful Skin Massage Oil, as the herbs are chosen to penetrate the surface of the skin and reach the deeper layers and tissues, purifying and nourishing the shrotas of the skin. By gently massaging the whole body, you're also gently purifying other organs as well. Increasing circulation also helps purify the blood. Always follow your abhyanga with a warm (not hot) bath. If you don't have time for a bath, a shower can substitute.
STEP TWO: Take Ayurvedic Detox Herbs (45 days)
Now that you’ve prepped your system by following the detox diet for two weeks, it’s time to dive into your detox. Throughout these 45 days, continue to follow the ama-reducing diet, daily routine, and eating habits mentioned Step One. Meanwhile, it’s time to add some Ayurvedic herbs:
- Take two to five tablets of Organic Digest Tone before going to bed each night to cleanse the bowel, or two to four capsules of Herbal Cleanse. These gentle yet effective herbal supplements that help to cleanse the bowel. Herbal Cleanse contains rare forms of senna leaf and turpeth root (Indian jalap) along with other herbs to aid natural elimination, enhance cellular purification, and improve assimilation of nutrients.
- Take two tablets of Elim-Tox morning and evening to cleanse the liver, the blood, the sweat glands and the elimination system. Take Elim-Tox-O instead if you have any symptoms of amavisha or if you have a Pitta imbalance. These powerful cleansers contain detoxifying herbs such as Indian sarsaparilla (hemidesmus indicus) and manjistha (Indian madder). Our Elim-Tox formulas are highly effective in flushing toxins from the liver, blood, sweat glands, and elimination system. Other herbs included in these formulas are Indian tinospora, rose petals and king of bitters (andrographis) to help balance and purify the liver. Indian sarsaparilla, red sandalwood, and neem leaf strengthen purification of toxins through the sweat glands and the skin.
- Take two tablets of Organic Genitrac morning and evening. This will purify the urinary tract and assist the removal of toxins. This time-tested supplement helps flush out ama from the genitourinary tract. It targets the genitourinary channels to help eliminate toxins through the urine.
By using these three different types of Ayurvedic detox formulas together, you will be cleansing all of your body's detoxification organs and the shrotas simultaneously for a holistic and balanced effect.
STEP THREE: Post-Detox Care
After spending 15 days preparing for your Ayurvedic detox and 45 days actually doing the self-detox program, you should feel much lighter, more blissful, and more energetic! You may even have shed some unwanted pounds.
Give yourself time to gradually transition into your normal routine and eating habits. Take time to gradually add heavier foods to your diet, and be sure to get enough rest for a few days after detox is over. Follow your normal Ayurvedic routine and recommended diet for your body type.
Now is also the optimum time to take rasayanas—Ayurvedic elixirs that rejuvenate your body—such as Maharishi Amrit Kalash. With the toxins cleared out of your organs and purificatory channels, your body will be more awake and alert and can utilize the benefits of the rasayana more than ever before. This is also a great time to start other Ayurvedic supplements, depending on your wellness goals.
It's important to know that detoxification should always be soothing and nurturing. It should never be drying or aggravating to the doshas. If you are doing any detox program that makes you feel drained or exhausted, or results in symptoms of disease, that is not a safe or balanced detox program. With Maharishi Ayurveda, you gain the full value of detoxification without creating any new imbalances. And that is what makes it a perfect system of health care.
Ongoing Maintenance: Prevention is Key
In Ayurveda, prevention is the key to health, so the best plan is to prevent toxic build-up from accumulating in the first place! Follow the diet and daily routine for your mind-body type and imbalances; exercise every day to improve your digestion and elimination; do a daily abhyanga to flush out toxins through the skin; drink the herbal water suitable for your imbalances; and meditate every day to remove stress.
Finally, the Ayurvedic seasonal routines and dietary guidelines are key parts of any prevention program. By following simple seasonal guidelines, you can help mitigate the toxins that accumulate due to seasonal changes.
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