I first dipped my toes into Ayurveda as an extension of my yoga and meditation practice. I was looking for a complete experience of vitality, optimal health and well-being, and lots of energy. My intention was to attend Ayurveda school for my own personal vitality, but as it turns out, I fell in love with sharing it with others, too.
Building a Strong Container
With Ayurveda, we have this container around us, or as I like to call it, our capacity. Without a strong container, the ways in which we take care of our health—exercise, meditation, yoga, and a healthy diet—just flow in for a bit of a boost and then flow right back out again, without much long-term benefit.
Without a strong container, we can do everything right and still find ourselves off-balance. We can rise with the sun, go for a walk, drink our lemon water, scrape our tongues, have a meditation session and perform asanas, but can get in our car and encounter traffic and still become completely disrupted and aggravated.
What Ayurveda does is strengthen our container. It extends our capacity, our radiance, and our potential so that external factors don’t hit us as hard. Of course, we’ll always encounter inconveniences, but in the long run, they won’t throw you off and ruin the rest of your day.
Beginning Your Journey
Ayurveda is incredibly simple and, unlike so many other systems of health, it doesn’t demand perfection from you. You can incorporate Ayurvedic principles and practices four out of seven days of the week. We don’t have to be feverish and do everything every day; that’s not sustainable. Incorporating Ayurveda is as simple as finding a few practices that really resonate with you, and then building upon them as you continue your journey.
The Basics of Ayurveda
The essential first step of Ayurveda is finding your dosha, or constitution, and beginning to incorporate the recommended diet habits associated with that dosha. Our diet is the foundation of our Prana, or our life force energy, and so much of imbalance, disease, and physical and mental unwellness stems from poor digestion. Start with three meals a day. Fine tune and tweak these meals to be more pacifying to your dosha, and you’re already off to a great start.
The second step I’d recommend is looking at your sleep habits. Make your bedroom a sanctuary—no computers, TVs, or cell phones; a comfortable mattress; curtains that close and create a nice dark room. Get a good night’s sleep and rise with the sun, and you’ll have more energy throughout the day. Just by incorporating these two basic things, you’re practicing Ayurveda.
Ayurveda recommends a seasonal cleanse every spring and fall because wisdom dictates that it takes six months for the disease to accumulate. During winter, we store toxins in our fat. When it starts to warm up, these toxins are released. That’s why so many people are more vulnerable to sickness in the springtime! A spring cleanse flushes these toxins out and bolsters our health. In the summer, we accumulate heat in the blood, which can also manifest in disease. We dispel that heat when autumn moves in, and a fall cleanse can help support your body in that process.
Cleansing eliminates these toxins in a very gentle, nurturing, and highly effective way. We’re resetting our digestive fire, which is thrown out of balance from stress and unfavorable dietary habits. Cleansing also gives you an opportunity to reset your relationship with food in your habits and behaviors. It’s gentle, nurturing, and nourishing to mind, body, and soul.
Importance of Agni
Agni is one of the most important and transformative principles that finds a mention in Ayurveda. Broadly, it pertains to the life processes of digestion, assimilation, and conversion of food into energy. You need strong Agni for complete absorption of nutrients in your body and for total nourishment. But the role of Agni is much bigger than just digestion of food. According to ancient texts, you need strong Agni to even digest the knowledge and wisdom that you come across. We need Agni for vision and other sensory experiences, digestion, maintenance of body temperature, vitality, bright glowing skin, higher life force, respiration, and for fuller oxygenation in the body. But more importantly, you need thriving Agni to keep ama or toxins from collecting in the body. When Agni is strong, digestion and absorption are at its best, there is minimal accumulation of ama. Ayurveda experts say, one of the main reasons for ama or toxin deposits building in the body is lack of sufficient Agni, which is needed to restore vitality and overall health. Impaired Agni can eventually lead to the manifestation of multiple lifestyle disorders and lack of prana or life force.
This is where natural detox cleanses come into the picture. Ayurvedic cleanses work towards rekindling and restoring Agni to its optimal state, with the help of multiple tools like specific therapies, treatments, Ayurvedic diet, yoga and lifestyle changes, personalized and curated to balance your doshas. These cleanses eliminate ama from your system that is the root cause of various illnesses, fatigue, and low energy.
Signs that you need an Ayurvedic Cleanse
- Digestive problems-constipation, IBS, or frequent diarrhea episodes
- Routine is all over the place—improper diet, irregular sleep cycle, fatigue
- You feel exhausted all the time without doing much, less productive
- Depression, anxiety, and stress are a constant
- You experience brain fog, or have been diagnosed with lifestyle disorders like diabetes or hypertension or psychosomatic symptoms.
Why Undergo an Ayurvedic Cleanse?
You need an Ayurvedic cleanse to bring your body and mind back to its highest functional state, in other words, restore overall health and wellness of your body and mind. If you want to feel highly energized, rejuvenated, productive, totally calm and clear in your head, feel hopeful and positive and feel like you are a clean slate and now you are ready to take on the world, then you need an Ayurvedic cleanse. It balances your doshas, removes the toxins, and gets rid of all the stress and stiffness that has collected in your system. Here’s what an Ayurveda cleanse can do for you both preventive and curative:
- Restores wellbeing and vitality in your body
- Balances all the three doshas
- Increases prana or life energy
- Makes you grounded while keeping your enthusiasm intact
- Clears your mind of negativity and fatigue
- Improves body weight
- Eliminates toxins
- Restores state of balance of mind and body
- Restores and improves the body’s natural intelligence and ability to heal itself
- Provides total nourishment for your body, mind and soul
- You learn about diet and lifestyle habits that work for your body type and those that don’t
- Eliminates the root cause of illness by addressing basic conditions or imbalances your body type is prone to.
How often should you do a cleanse?
Like your car needs an overhaul periodically, so does your body and mind. You need to fine-tune the rhythms of your mind-body complex every once in a while. Ayurveda recommends that a few basic cleanses can be done at the turn of each season to prepare your body for the dosha-related aggravations that your body-mind complex is likely to undergo in the coming season, as we mentioned above.
There’s a Cleanse for Everyone
The best thing about the Ayurvedic system of medicine is that it is highly personalized. Based on an elaborate evaluation of your current state of dosha balance, body type, and lifestyle habits, by a qualified Ayurveda physician, you will be recommended specific cleanses, therapy and treatments which may include various types of body massages, body wraps, heat therapy, marma, oil baths, among others, tailored to your needs and availability. During the period of your cleanse, you will also be provided a specific ayurvedic diet to aid your treatment. Based on the imbalances in your doshas, the experts will consult with you about specific lifestyle changes you may need to make, dos and don’ts. So you can cherish sustainable benefits from the treatment.
A Panchakarma Retreat (PK) helps preserve and restore your health through authentic therapies from the science of Ayurveda. Whether you want to enjoy deep rest and rejuvenation or find holistic methods to manage chronic issues, it offers effective practices for self-care and the restoration of physical, mental, and emotional balance.
Panchakarma is a set of cleansing processes recommended by Ayurveda. It uses natural oils, herbal formulations and lepas or masks, diet, yogasanas, and pranayamas, tailor-made for your dosha type, targeting the specific imbalances and aama or toxins. It is one of the most powerful detoxifying treatments offered in Ayurveda, relieving stress and ama from deep tissues, and clearing out your lymphatic system. On the physical level, the detoxes shake up the stagnated body fluids, bring about better circulation of blood, regenerate healthy cells, enhance immunity, and clear up your digestive tracts, push up your metabolism and give you the best digestive detox. There are treatments that specifically cater to improving various organ functions like skin, kidneys, liver, digestion, or lymphatic system.
The length of the treatment may vary from patient to patient, depending on the severity of issues. But a longer cleanse helps you move along with important lifestyle changes even after the treatment is complete.