The seasonal change from winter to spring will bring some challenges to your health and well-being. If you don’t recognize this natural pattern or try to resist it by loading up on heavy foods and not exercising enough, it can lead to spring allergies and leave you feeling tired and sluggish; water retention, heaviness in the limbs, and seasonal disorders are all common at this time of year. In Ayurveda, we know that in springtime the Dosha most commonly out of balance is Kapha.
It never ceases to amaze me how hard working and intelligent the body is. Day in and day out, it processes all kinds of input, doing its best to eliminate any harmful substances alongside routine metabolic waste. It does this well if your liver and your natural internal detox process are working well. But thanks to the modern diet our bodies are inundated with a never-ending barrage of stressors: environmental toxins, processed foods, alcohol, coffee, sugar, unresolved emotions, and psychological stress, to name a few. Inevitably, in attempting to “digest” it all, we accumulate some degree of toxicity – which, over time, can build up in the system, deposit in the tissues, and compromise our health.
But there is something you can do to give your body a break. An Ayurvedic cleanse works to slow down the flood of toxins so that the body can rest, recuperate, and repair itself. And amazingly, when the overload of inputs slows, your body will immediately take advantage of the break to do some very deep cleansing.
Toxins are called Ama in Ayurveda. You can find more info on Ama and an Ama questionaire here. The practice of cleansing is considered a vital part of an Ayurvedic lifestyle, with great potential for improved energy, strength, and immunity, as well as a renewed love of life. An Ayurvedic cleanse rests and resets the digestive system, eliminates toxins, and simultaneously removes excess Vata, Pitta, and Kapha from the body – all of which serve to promote improved balance and overall health.
Below you will find the information you need to implement a simple, food-based cleanse at home this spring. A gentle detoxification doesn’t have to be stressful. All you need to do is to facilitate and support the natural cleansing process and the organs responsible for it. Your body will thank you for it with a glowing skin, more energy, better sleep and a great digestion.
However, even a gentle cleanse like this one is not appropriate for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or anyone who is extremely weak or debilitated.
What can you do?
Typically we see a seasonal increase in Kapha in springtime, so I recommend you follow a Kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle. Click here for more information. Have a look here if you have typical signs and symptoms of a Kapha imbalance.
What can further support your cleanse?
- Add more fiber to your diet by eating more vegetables, whole grains, and fruit. They will help brush the insides of your stomach and colon.
- Add spicy, light, bitter and green vegetables! These support the liver and digestion.
- Say no to heavy sauces, everything creamy, or too sweet. A cleanse facilitating diet means eliminating dairy products, wheat, yeasted bread, and other baked goods, fried and oily food, and reducing meat. Instead, meals should be simple and light.
- A light dinner is crucial to a successful detox program since our digestive power weakens considerably in the evening.
- Add some bitter herbs to your daily diet like turmeric, dandelion, goldenseal, gentian, milk thistle, and neem. An easy way to add them to your diet is to drink them as tea; turmeric can be added to your food.
- Drink plenty of liquids. This will help you flush out toxins. But it is best to drink in-between meals and not with your meal (as this dilutes stomach acid and digestive juices). To stimulate toxin release, try hot or room temperature water with lemon or apple cider vinegar.
- Add spices and herbs to your cooking.
- Make sure your bowel movements are working. You need to have at least one per day but better more than once. You can try Triphala (see below) if you need to assist your movements.
- Triphala is an Ayurvedic blend of herbs taken as a bowel tonic. It tones the bowel walls and helps the colon function at its optimal level. More info on Triphala here.
- Try sauna, steam room, hot baths, and cardio-induced sweating. Most gyms have sauna and steam rooms that you can use after a workout. If you don’t have access to one, take a hot bath with Epsom salt every night before going to sleep or as often as you can. Also, it’s a good idea to run, do yoga, jump, dance, whatever gets your heart pumping!
- Breathe deeply! Try 10 deep-breath breathing, with your abdomen upon rising, a few times a day and at bedtime. In a rushed and stressed out world, we often forget about our breathing. Deep breathing calms you down immediately and sends the body a signal that is everything is good and there is no need to have the fight and flight system activated.
- Avoid eating leftovers and processed foods.
- Avoid cold drinks, which reduce the digestive fire.
- Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke, alcohol, drugs, chemicals, environmental pollution, and other toxins.
- Go to bed by 10 p.m. so your body can rest during its natural purification cycle, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- Do some relaxation. Try downloading a relaxation app onto your mobile device or you could try some Yoga Nidra, which is a special guided meditation or another type of daily deep relaxation
- Get a massage
- Stretch often
- Try and be positive and think positive.
Be well and stay well!