Being an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I see the world through the eyes of Ayurveda. Everyone is unique and needs something different according to their personal prakruti or natural doshic make-up. By understanding someone’s natural state and their current state of imbalance (vikruti) I am able to discern exactly what treatment protocol would be most appropriate. Other things to consider are the mental and emotional states, type of job, stress, family and anything else that is influencing one’s life situation. If a client were going through a divorce, moving house, changing jobs or having any other major transition or stress in their life, it would not be a good time to cleanse.
Knowing the basics of Ayurveda will help you to understand your unique approach to cleansing but the most important gauge is awareness of and listening to your own body. Ayurveda literally means the knowledge and wisdom of life. It is the holistic healing system, originating in India over 5,000 years ago and is still actively being used today throughout many parts of the world.
Ayurveda views health and disease as the end result of how we interact with the world, in terms of our beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and feelings, which then ultimately determine our actions. Actions in harmony with our inner nature create health, while those dis-harmonious with our inner nature create disease. Ayurveda is the science of developing greater harmony with our internal and external environments.
Your inner nature is called your constitution or prakruti and is a unique blend of the three doshas: vata (ether + air), pitta (fire + water) and kapha (earth + water). Your constitution was determined at the moment of your conception and is with you your entire life. It determines what is in harmony with your nature and what will cause you to become out of balance, sick and diseased. Knowledge of your constitution is essential to developing optimal health.
Ayurveda assists us in journeying back to optimal health by balancing the five elements in the body and mind through the use of herbs, diet, colors, aromatherapy, lifestyle changes, yoga, and meditation. When we follow diet, food and lifestyle choices that support our unique dosha then we will be healthy and have less of a need to cleanse in any drastic way. However once there is a build up of ama or toxicity in the body that cannot be eliminated, a cleansing process is essential. Traditionally an Ayurvedic cleanse called Pancha Karma (Five Actions) would be recommended and the patient would go to a Pancha Karma hospital or centre for a period or weeks or months depending on the severity of the disease to undergo the cleansing treatment.
Cleansing for Your Dosha
Vata is comprised primarily of the ether and air elements therefore the qualities of vata are light, cold, rough, dry and changeable. Vata types are naturally slender with long, fine bones. They tend towards feeling cold, anxious, scattered, overwhelmed, under-weight and may suffer from symptoms such as constipation, dry skin, insomnia or nervous system disorders.
As vata is on the cold, light side and doesn’t do well with fasting, it is important that cleansing is gentle and nurturing otherwise fear, worry, constipation and stress will all increase. The focus needs to be on ensuring that the immune system is strong and digestion balanced.
Pitta consists mostly of the fire and water elements. The main qualities of pitta are hot, sharp, oily, mobile and spreading. Pitta types are medium in build, often athletic, driven, hot, competitive and intense. They tend toward feeling hot, irritated, angry and critical and may suffer from rashes, inflammation, acid reflux, ulcers or burning diarrhea when out of balance.
Pitta’s fiery mind and body drive them towards success and goal oriented activities. For pitta it is key that they learn to listen and feel their body opposed to deciding logically what the body needs. Subsequently, cleansing must not become another thing to check off the to do list but really be something that is honored (thus slowing down, lessening activities and intensity during this time). Cleansing of the liver and blood can be very beneficial for pitta.
Kapha is made up mainly of the earth and water elements. Some of kapha’s qualities are heavy, unctuous, slow, dull, smooth, soft and cool. Kapha types have a more solid frame, soft smooth skin, large eyes, are slower moving and tend to feel the damp. They may be predisposed to lethargy, excess weight, congestion, depression and symptoms in the chest and sinuses.
As kapha is inclined to congestion and a mucousy build up, cleansing in the spring (also the kapha time of year) is most optimal. Kapha types can benefit from cleansing, less food and even some forms of fasting as they often have an excess of fat stores and slower digestion.
No matter what your dosha is following a daily routine of waking, eating and sleeping at the same times everyday is beneficial. Eating the Ayurvedic super food known as ‘kichari’ and sipping on CCF tea (cumin, coriander, fennel tea) are wonderful ways to cleanse your digestive system (in Ayurveda we always look to the state of the digestion and ensure that it is functioning optimally, otherwise all other systems will be compromised). Kichari is a complete protein and is packed full of nutritional value while being easy to digest and therefore cleansing the body. A kichari diet can be observed for a day, a week or even longer depending on your individual health concerns (it is recommended to consult with your trusted Ayurvedic Practitioner to get more specific details on cleansing for your individual state and dosha).
No matter what your dosha is the spring is a wonderful time to press the restart button, ensure that you are in rhythm with the season and allow a healthier, happier version of yourself to blossom!
Take 2 tsp of each of the seeds of cumin, coriander and fennel. Add to boiling water. Turn the heat down and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Strain and sip warm tea throughout the day (put it in a thermos and take it to the office)!
Tridoshic Spring Kichari
One of the best ways to give your over taxed digestive system a break is to eat kichari, an Ayurvedic superfood. Kichari is a tridoshic (good for all dosha types) food that can be adjusted according to the season or for your individual constitution. The basic ingredients in this one pot meal are white basmati rice and split mung beans. These ingredients form a complete protein and are very easily digested. Added to the pot are spices to help kindle your digestive fire, as well as yummy veggies for good nourishment. This powerful dish is the staple for an Ayurvedic cleanse diet, but can also be used anytime you feel your digestion is out of whack. Eating kichari is like pressing the reset button and allows your digestion to return to a state of proper functioning and ease.
6 cups water, may add more water for a more soupy kichari 2 tbsp ghee Half a medium onion, finely diced
1 inch fresh peeled ginger, finely diced
1 cup split mung dal
1 cup white basmati rice
About 2 cups mixed veggies of your choice—seasonal veggies, squash, and greens
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp sea salt or rock salt
Tip: Soak beans and rice overnight in cold water for shorter cooking time and easier digestion.
1. Wash beans and rice until rinse water is clear. Discard water and set rice and beans aside.
2. In a heavybottomed pan, heat the ghee on medium and add the onions to sauté until sweet and tender.
3. Add ginger, cumin, fennel, and coriander seeds and sauté for two or so more minutes.
4. Add rice and beans and sauté for a few more minutes.
5. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir, lower heat and simmer on low with the lid on for about 20 minutes.
6. While kichari is cooking, wash and chop the veggies/greens.
7. Add to the mixture, stir in and cover.
8. Allow to steam for about 810 minutes. Add salt and turmeric and mix in. If you are using veggies that take longer to cook than greens—squash or yams for example—add to mixture five minutes before the greens and other veggies.
Garnish: A squeeze of lemon or lime, fresh cilantro or parsley, a small dollop of extra ghee, and toasted sesame seeds or toasted sunflower seeds. This is just one suggested recipe for kichari. Feel free to adjust veggies and spices to suit your tastes.
Get creative with it. Here’s to simple eating and your health!