As I made my way back into the world of seasonal cleansing this fall, I thought it would be nice to share this experience that I have gone through. After 2 consecutive pregnancies and 13 months of breastfeeding straight after, I simply have not had the ability to perform any type of detoxification program for three years now, which for an Ayurvedic practitioner can be a long, long time. So as the fall settled in and I realized that I FINALLY have no healthcare constrictions at this moment, I was very eager and excited to jump back in!
Why do I feel the need to cleanse?
Cleansing to me is a time for reset. Reseting our digestion. Resetting our emotions. Resetting our mind. Resetting our doshic balance. Resetting our eating patterns. Resetting our daily living habits. Resetting our intentions in life. For me it is a time for slowing down, taking a look at ALL aspects of my life, and making the permanent changes that need to happen (or at least starting the process).
Routine detoxification also gives our digestive fire and vital organs a rest, and in turn allows our body and minds to run better, stronger, and more efficiently. I consider myself to eat a fairly clean diet overall; however, we are all susceptible to pollutants: in the foods we eat, the air we breath, and the substances that come in contact with our skin (lotion, shampoo, soap, perfume, detergent, etc, etc…). So basically if you live and breath on this planet, you likely have some toxins that have accumulated in your system.
Another aspect of cleansing for me, which is equally if not more important, is the emotional processing and healing that arises through a well rounded cleansing program. It may seem unusual that eating a mono-diet of kitchari can release deep-rooted emotions and trauma, but it is so! Part of this is due to the sensitivity that arises from a simple diet; part of it from the excessive amount of ghee and oil that are used to lubricate our tissues and release our “stuck” emotions; and part of it is from the self-care practices that are included in Ayurvedic cleanses (did someone say meditation!). Needless to say, cleansing is a very powerful time for me to take a moment and allow my emotions to come up, be felt, and be on their way.
How did I prepare for my cleanse?
The first step I always take before beginning any cleanse is to set up the exact timing of it. Since there is a lot of prep work involved before the cleanse even begins, deciding on a date, how long the cleanse will be, and any other details is a necessity!
As eager as I was to perform a cleanse, I realized that I am a busy full-time mom and small business owner, and therefore my restful downtime that I used take for granted, was likely not going to be quite the same. With this in mind, I thought it would be best to perform a shorter, more mild, and less aggressive cleanse. I decided that a 3 day kitchari cleanse would be a perfect amount of time, being not too long for my personal needs and not to short for being effective.
With this decision made, I planned out the best weekend for my cleanse and set up a timeline for both the 3 day cleanse, as well as the essential 7 day preparatory process. I decided to create a cleanse that would target the liver, to help balance my hormones, metabolism, energy, and digestion – all of which have been on a roller coaster ride over the last three years. Since a healthy liver is needed for overall balance in the body, I thought this was a great place to start!
How did the cleanse go?
I’m so glad you asked:) Although it was shorter than what I am used to, it was still powerful, effective, and quite exceptional! I started with a seven day preparatory process by I lightening my diet, taking some Tikta Ghrita (bitter ghee) each morning, and taking the Daily Detox Formula before each meal. Even with these three changes alone, I was already feeling better before the cleanse even began!
My actual cleanse began on a Friday. This involved yoga and meditation; herbal medicine and teas; peaceful walks; a calming, soothing, cleansing nighttime routine; and of course kitchari, kitchari, and more kitchari! Although time consuming, I cannot tell you how excited I was to force myself into some downtime, and even more important (and unheard of) – time for my-Self! So I set my intention, hung my cleansing activity schedule on my refrigerator, and I dove in head first!
I must admit that I did miss about one to two marks each day (i.e. I only managed one walk each day rather than two, etc). I also was not perfect about the timing of each activity. However, I managed to get about 90% of the routine in, and as a full-time mom, that is pretty great! I was vey good at sticking to my kitchari diet and was very surprised that I felt no need for snacking in between. Between the kitchari meals and the cleansing teas in between I really felt great! I had a few moments of mild nausea and needing to rest, but overall I felt lighter, clearer, grounded, and focused straightaway!
What was the hardest part of the cleanse?
For anyone that knows me, eating kitchari three times a day is not too extraordinary, but this particular liver cleansing kitchari recipe uses very cleansing ingredients such as beets, garlic, cayenne pepper, and onion. Although in general I really love this flavorful recipe, to eat it for breakfast was probably my least favorite part of the cleanse. In fact by day two I felt fairly nauseous after (of course taking a tablespoon of Tikta Ghrita beforehand didn’t help). I must admit that by day three I decided to make a bowl of plain mung dal and red rice with some milder spices for my breakfast. It wasn’t part of my original cleansing plan, but it seemed like a reasonable compromise – and yes, it hit the spot!
What was my favorite aspect of this cleanse?
On an larger scale, the best aspect of this cleanse was simply taking some time to nourish myself. I tend to get so busy in life, daily activities become robotic and although I always do a couple self-care practices each day, they are often rushed and performed with a busy mind. To take some down time for me, without feeling like I should be doing 50 other things was a really nice feeling.
On a smaller scale, the best aspect was the meditation. Before motherhood, this was a regular part of my morning routine. Sadly, my practice was lost after giving birth and I had not realized how much I missed it until now. It was like reuniting with a long lost friend!
What was my “take home message” from this cleanse?
If I can take one thing home with me from this cleanse, it would be to SLOW DOWN. With my energetic 16 month old son getting more mobile and the fall season settling in, my Vata has been steadily increasing over the last few months, and although I knew it logically, I felt too immersed to take control. Mind mind has been scattered and my memory was getting more depleted each week.
This cleanse really allowed me to bring awareness to this whirlwind energy and take the reins. Between the mediation, Yoga, abhyanga, and baths, I really felt much more grounded, clear, and steady. It really made me take a step back and look at the big picture.
How will I move forward after the cleanse?
It has been almost a week since my cleanse ended, although I am still in the “post-cleanse” phase. My diet is still very simple and consists mostly of kitchari. However, I am super excited to welcome in some porridges for breakfast, and some rebuilding foods such as honey, dates, and almonds. It is funny how sensitive your taste buds get after even a few days of a kitchari diet. The sweet taste has never tasted so sweet:)
I am also happy to say I have continued with my meditation practice. I can only manage about 10 minutes in each morning after my Yoga practice, but I cannot stress how much better I feel after. It really has helped me to look at my mind directly and start the day clear, calm, and centered (yes!!).
So as I end this reflection, I just wanted to share with you that cleansing can be a powerful tool on many levels beyond our physical health. Going into a cleanse you may have your mindset on improving your energy, digestion, or whatever, but you may be surprised on the areas of unexpected healing that come up.
Whether you are only able to do a weekly one day fast, a 3 day cleanse, or a full-on 7 to 30 day blow out, the intention, awareness, process, and results should be fairly similar. Set your intentions on resetting the areas in your life that may need a bit of a tweak, and take control of your health – both mental and physical. But most of all, use compassion and intelligence as you go through your cleansing program. If something doesn’t feel right, or is simply too much for you at that time, listen to your innate intelligence and find happy compromises when needed.
Thank you for listing to my story. It is not exceptionally profound, but taking the time to process and reflect after a cleanse can be a great way to keep the healing energy flowing and make the overall experience even greater. Thank you for being a part of that! I am happy to share my experience with you, and I hope it will help to encourage you to find what you may need at this moment to create more balance, stability, and health in your body and mind.