Updated: Aug 8, 2019
Let food be thy medicine – a wisdom of the sages from Hipocraties, to Avicenna, to Charaka and as relevant today as ever. For the past 21 days, I have been on a gentle seasonal detox,and at times it’s been hard to resist the odd late night or coffee with a friend. Never the less we have persisted with the full course and are so grateful for the progress, clearer mind and more energy. Although in our family we cook organic food from scratch every day, eat seasonal wholefoods, still there are times when due to a rich diet, poor eating or lifestyle habits can make ama form. Ama (in sanskrit – toxins, waste) is the result of undigested food or thoughts which sit and clog up the body. You experience this in your body by pain, fatigue, fogginess and feeling clogged. This is due to the excess bile (too much acidity), air (bloating & flatulence) and mucus (phlegm). A seasonal detox is a great way to get back on a healthy lifestyle routine and remove excess toxins generated from the previous season. And to learn to turn inwards and look to your bodies deepest needs. Here are some of the things I have been eating below.
Chia-apple breakfast porridge click link.
Ayurvedic detox is more gentle than others, and is not the same as a fast. During a seasonal detox, we eat three cooked meals at the same times every day. Here are some of the food choices we included: seasonal fruit juices, made with sweet, sour and astringent fruits such as apples, pomegranates, and persimmons, grapefruit and grapes.
Wholegrain breakfast cereals such as oats, millet, quinoa, chia and barley with soaked fruit or seeds.
The main meal is at lunchtime, and includes lots of protein-rich lentil soups or light drying grains such as quinoa or buckwheat with one veg, in order to make it easy on our digestion. This next point has been key for us, and something we have had to adjust, and that is eating dinners as the sun sets earlier. It is important to avoid eating late at night, so that a light meal — such as steamed veg and quinoa — has enough time to digest properly, and it should be at least three hours before bedtime, (that being around 10.30 p.m.). When we eat a meal too close to our bedtime, our digestive fire, called agni in Sanskrit, is not able to function properly, causing the accumulation of ama, making us feel slow and sluggish in the morning. As when we put food into our stomachs, we also need to be aware of the impressions we take in — such as exciting films or books & other entertainment — which could be overly exciting for the body. Before we start our meal, as well as while we are eating, we ask ourselves, "Can we digest this physically and mentally?" With this in mind, the goal here is to feel light and rejuvenated at the end.
Detoxing can be done for a week, but if you have little time, it can also be done for shorter periods, such as 3 days — or even 1 day. By giving our digestion a rest, we provide an opportunity for our system to clear ama — the waste from undigested food matter — and we will reap some of the benefits. If we can take 21 days or even 45 days off to detox, we will reset our system sufficiently to clear the previous season's doshic imbalance(s), giving ourselves a chance to reset lifestyle patterns and create positive changes. Toxicity is accumulated not only from our diet, but toxins are also taken in from the environment, from chemicals we use to clean our clothing (dry cleaning or non-eco detergents), from harmful chemicals found in household cleaning products, bed mattresses, personal products such as shampoos, hair conditioners, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorants, body soap or gels, as well as our lifestyle habits and negative thoughts.
Here are some of the more personal physical signs and symptoms you can look out for, which can help you to know when it's time to have a detox.
Ayurvedic tongue diagnosis is an easy tool we can use to examine ourselves and assess our state of health. Dr Vasant Lad’s book, Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing, has images of tongues and explains the significance of white patches or coating on the tongue, and how its presence in different areas of the tongue corresponds to the state of health of different body organs. Also, if there is foul smelling breath, it is a signal to us that it is time to cleanse and use a tongue scraper regularly as part of our routine. Get the book on the link below.
How does your physical body feel? Are you in pain for no apparent reason? When toxins are in the body, we may feel tired for no reason, or aches and pains may appear in places where toxins are being held. Foul smelling stools, constipation or hard stools, heavy stools that sink, undigested food particles and mucus are strong indicators of imbalanced digestion, or that you have not digested your meal properly.
Ayurveda looks at the whole person and addresses that detoxing is more than about avoiding sugar, eliminating fried food, coffee & alcohol or meat from our diet. Negative emotions can be as damaging to our health as the above food sources. It is as much about the whole body well-being of the subtle energetic and intuitive body.
Depression, stress, boredom, or anxiety are some of the neurological barriers which are ruining your health. Here are some intuitive things you can do to improve your well-being.
1. Keep a journal to keep track of all your emotions and thoughts. It's okay to write down your wishes as well as your observations. Dream big and aim for the stars about what you want to create in your life. If there are no desires to create more growth and expansion in your life, you may have blockages to be addressed, often this cannot be done by yourself and a strong support network of friends or soul guides can help you.
2. Be confident, satisfied, and content of your achievements. Recognizing even the smallest achievements and seeing the miracles performed through you. It can start with a smile and becoming your own loving caring parent to yourself.
3. Knowing you have all the time in the world to achieve your goals and feel the joy in the journey to your potential. Your true self is immortal.
4. Being grateful & generous of your love. All that you are is a gift and science suggest that we all thrive in a loving, caring, giving environment.
Ayurveda looks at the whole person, and points out that detoxing is more than just avoiding sugar, eliminating fried food, coffee, alcohol and meat from our diet. It is as much about the whole body, the well-being of the physical, energetic, mental, and wisdom bodies). Negative emotions can be as damaging to our health as the above food sources. Depression, stress, boredom, and anxiety create what is called "mental ama" in Ayurveda, and this can be extremely detrimental to our health. Mental detox means detoxing ourselves from our negative thought patterns, and clearing away distractions which no longer serve our higher good. Here are some intuitive things we can do to improve our overall well-being.
1. Keep a journal to track our emotions and thoughts. It's good to write down our wishes as well as our observations. Dream big and aim for the stars, in terms of what we want to create in our lives! If there is no desire for more growth and expansion in our life, we may have blockages which need to be addressed. This may be difficult to address on our own, so a strong support or network of friends or soul guides can assist us.
2. Be confident, satisfied, and content with our achievements, recognizing even the smallest achievements, and noticing the miracles performed through us. This can start with a smile, and we can actually become our own loving, caring parent to ourselves.
3. Knowing we have all the time in the world to achieve our goals, we can feel the joy in our own journey to our potentials. Our true Self is immortal.
4. Being grateful and generous with our love, for all that we are is a gift. Even science suggests that we all thrive in a loving, caring, giving environment. Personally, at times this detox hasn't been easy, because when the toxins release, this also releases negativity, anger, irritability and restlessness. But this is to be accepted and experienced instead of repressed, and once our emotions are brought to the light of our awareness and witnessed, we can see that passing emotions are just that. Instead of being overwhelmed by them, we don't give them power within us, we just let them pass without judging them, simply sensing the energy underlying all emotions. My teacher and my detox partner, Igor Kufayev says in his video, Refinement of Perception "...The appreciation of gross expression of awareness — known as the solid world or object — becomes much much more transparent. So, as it were, we’re able to perceive the subtler essence of what, on the surface, is only known as an apple or orange, or that rose. A rock, a mountain, a moon, what have you — doesn’t matter. The refinement of perception is an indispensable part of every spiritual unfoldment because it allows us to perceive the finer layers of reality..."
7 Key practices to detoxing
1. Tongue scraping* in the morning as your do oil pulling or tooth brushing.
2. Lemon water with honey. This soothes and wakes up the digestion and lemon encourages the liver to function. The lemon should be whole and freshly sliced and squeezed by hand. Bottled lemon will not work!
3. Abhyanga - self massage with warm sesame oil, or dry. Helps to stimulate the lymphatic system and the largest organ of the body skin. Starting with the scalp and head make small circular motions to massage the skin. After you have massaged the whole body you can sit for a while and then wash off the oil. Afterwards you will feel ready for your daily practice of yoga & meditation.
4. Tune into your body and honor it from a cellular level by following the circadian rhythm* you honor the intelligence of nature and nurture the true patterns of our true nature.
5. Diet which includes whole grains such as lentils, quinoa, fruits, seeds (pumpkin and sunflower, black sesame, nigella). Cut out certain foods such as diary, chocolate, fried, processed. Make your meals fresh at each sitting made with the right spices. Eat at a regular time and give three hours to digest food before bedtime.
6. Knowing your need for rejuvenation and relaxation. Making time to exercise when feeling stuck and heavy and meditate when feeling distracted and unfocused knowing it's time for relaxation.
7. Live in your flow and know that everything that you need is happening for you. As Rumi quote says "live life as if everything is rigged in your favor" ! Know you are supported by the Universal nature recognize this in joy and love from within.
The results from the detox are aligning habits for building bodily strength, vigor, energy, ability, power in sanskrit Ojas which has a positive impact for progressing on the path to wholeness.
Sources: Igor Kufayev. Ayurveda science of self-healing by Dr. V Lad,
Read more on: *circadian rhythms https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/circadian-rhythm,
*tongue scraping http://www.mapi.com/blog/tongue-scraping.html#gsc.tab=0