In this brief summary of John Immel’s final lecture in our Seasonal Cleanse with Ayurveda and Yoga program, we look at the benefits of cleansing the Ayurvedic way and offer some general tips for cleansing your system, regardless of body type or season. Members can watch the full talk below.
It’s worth noting that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” miracle cleanse. This is one of the reasons that Ayurveda is so effective – it not only takes into account constitutional factors such as the needs of the individual but also external factors such as the time of year. Ayurveda is also intended to work gently with the approach that if something doesn’t fit well with you, then you can either adapt it or leave it out.
Assess your reasons
Over the course of this cleanse, you may, for example, feel a little tired or notice a change in the coating on your tongue or differences in your bowel elimination but you shouldn’t feel anything too intensely such as exhaustion or extreme nausea – if you do, take it easier. If your reactions are aggressive then you may be harming your body not supporting it. Before doing any cleanse, take an honest look at your reasons for doing it. There’s (understandably) some controversy surrounding the cleansing and detox industry and, as John, points out, some people can get addicted to a certain notion of ‘purity’ and austerity. Remember Ayurveda seeks to nurture and support your body, rather than deny it. So make sure you’re cleansing for the right reason – helping your body do what it’s supposed to do naturally.
Breaking it down
John Immel designed his 5 day cleanse so that each day follows a certain theme, one day building on from the next. He also offers modifications for different doshas (body types) and according to whether it is Spring or Autumn. However, there are some simple tips that will benefit us all, regardless of dosha or season:
1. Reducing the toxic load
Begin to wean yourself off caffeine, sugar, alcohol, tobacco and processed foods. Start the day by sipping some hot water to encourage a little heat in the body. Try to eat organic wholesome, fresh food.
2. Establish a routine
- Start to develop the pillars of a good routine, creating structure around when you get up and go to sleep, when you eat, exercise and get fresh air.
- Keep a food and poop journal! – so you can learn to correlate how you feel with what you’re putting in your body.
- Aim to wake with the sun
- Try and eat at the same times each day
- Avoid snacking for the most part (exceptions here may be Vata-types as they burn energy so quickly!)
- Turn off electronics by 8pm every night so you can let mind calm down before sleep
- Try not to eat after 8pm
3. Cleanse the digestive tract
For this, John recommends eating Kitchari – an easy to prepare dish comprising mung beans, ghee, coconut oil, rice and spices that tastes wonderful and balances all doshas. He also suggests gentle belly massage – ideally in a clockwise direction, starting from lower right – to get things moving through the GI tract.
4. Get spicy and bitter!
It’s beneficial for all doshas / body types to stoke the fires of our digestion now and again. Adding spices such as ginger, turmeric and black pepper to our cooking increases the heart rate, stimulating blood flow to the digestive tract and thereby improving our ability to digest and absorb the nutrients in our food. Including bitters in our diet (dark leafy greens, coffee without milk and sugar, endives, chicory, dandelion greens) can also stimulate the release of digestive juices.
After a cleanse
As a general guideline, take the same length of time to ease back into your usual routine as you spent doing the cleanse. Although you might want to celebrate completing it, it’s probably not a good idea to end a cleanse with a pizza and a bottle of wine! ‘Assaulting’ your body with heavy foods and alcohol, even after a mild 5 day cleanse, can make you feel awful … so go gently!
Download instructions for the full cleanse
Learn more about how to modify these general tips for your dosha by joining our Seasonal Cleanse with Ayurveda and Yoga program, a two-week program available to all EkhartYoga members with talks on Ayurveda, a 5 day cleanse and 7 yoga classes tailored to your dosha. Includes a downloadable pdf with full instructions for the 5 day cleanse with modifications for your dosha and the season, a grocery list and cleanse recipes.