My Foray Into Ayurvedic Cleansing: Day 1
My homemade Kitchari!
Contrary to popular belief, ayurvedic cleansing does not include fasting on water or juice all day, but I did find it difficult to eat enough to keep my energy level up on this first day. Making the transition of eating whole, organic home-cooked food is probably the reason for this. I'm used to grabbing food on the go without having to put much thought into it and one of the key aspects of cleansing is slowing down, taking the time to cook my own food and being mindful about how and when I eat it.
My day started with the required warm glass of water and tongue scraping, plus a nice cup of organic coffee (thank goodness coffee is not restricted). I also followed the guided meditation to help me prepare for the day and set an intention for my cleanse. For me, this endeavor is about learning how to make positive changes by eating more mindfully just like practicing yoga has allowed me to do. I want to be more compassionate (non-harming) to my body by nourishing it with whole, healthy food in the most positive way possible.
With that in mind, I set out to make my main meal of the day. As I mentioned before, a key aspect of cleansing is cooking our meals from scratch. I decided it keep it simple and made Kitchari, a classic cleansing dish that filled my kitchen with the wonderful aroma of cumin, fennel and tumeric. It's been discovered that tumeric has incredible healing properties … is is a natural liver detoxifyer, antiseptic and antibacterial agent and has been proven to help prevent many types of cancers.1 The other main ingredients are mung beans and brown basmati rice, plus lots of organic veggies. Beans and rice are very easy for the system to digest, which allow the body to more easily heal itself. Regardless of these benefits, the meal was delicious … even my husband liked it!
By the end of day one, I was happy with how I felt overall, even if a little hungry. The lesson I learned is to be more mindful about monitoring how much I eat to keep my energy up. I look forward to seeing how the next few days go. I've been told that by day 4 I'll most likely experience increased energy and mental clarity. Since I'm refraining from ice cream, that gives me something to look forward to!
My Foray Into Ayurvedic Cleansing
Practicing yoga has significantly improved my sense of well-being. Yet as I continue to deepen my yoga practice and understanding, I've noticed my diet doesn't fully sync up with my yogic beliefs. I know I'm not the only yogi who struggles with merging their yoga experience with mindful eating habits. We practice postures, breathing and meditation, we try to live according to the precepts of the 8-limbed path ... but when it comes to nourishing our bodies respectfully, it's so easy to fall short, and I often do. We live such busy lives and the convenience of processed or packaged foods can be so very appealing!
Okay, so I also enjoy a glass of wine or a piece of dark chocolate now and then, even a bowl of ice cream! I don't believe that healthy eating means depriving myself completely of the treats I enjoy, but I do believe I could choose more thoughtfully what I put into my body each day. That leads me to wonder, can I really walk the yoga walk when it comes to my health if I'm not fully authentic with my eating habits?
developing illnesses. By making simple dietary changes to improve my nutritional intake, I may also experience better digestion, more energy, improved skin and fewer aches and pains in my body. I also feel assurance that this type of cleanse is not harsh to my system, so I'm open to trying an all natural approach to improving my health and well-being in preparation for the upcoming winter months.1
This all sounded great to me—no harsh procedures to endure—just simple dietary changes! Since I have no first-hand experience with cleansing, I've chose to participate in a group cleanse lead by an experienced ayurvedia practitioner and teacher. The program started with an introductory lecture where I learned that eating fish is a big no, no (too many toxins), small amounts of organic meat is acceptable, no sugar or alcohol, lots of spices are beneficial (especially tumeric), I must each three organic apples a day and not skip any meals. I can even continue drinking coffee (organic of course)!! Those are just the basics—I received a packet of useful information that includes much more detailed information including yoga postures, mantras, preparatory tips for a good night's sleep and recipes. The program also includes packets of ayurvedic herbal remedies to be taken regularly, several group yoga classes and lectures, group meals, daily emails and support from group leaders during the process.
The cleanse begins Saturday, Sept. 29, I'm a little nervous about how I will integrate these changes into my life for he next couple of weeks, especially when I travel. But I am also excited to see how these dietary changes affect my mood and energy level. I invite you to follow along during my experience as I post regular updates on this blog. Maybe you'll feel empowered to take your health into your own hands and try cleansing for yourself!
In the meantime, where's that ice cream?