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)!
Kichadi! (Also called kichari)
A simple and quick to make one pot meal with a bunch of benefits…
Recipe by Spice Mistress Glynnis Osher. www.themysticmasala.com
Kichadi is the core of Ayurvedic nutritional healing and cleansing. A balancing, grounding dish of split mung beans and basmati rice with the right spices and herbs, Kichadi not only nourishes the doshas but is also the preparatory diet for Pancha Karma (the five actions-of cleansing). The transition of the seasons is the ideal time for these Ayurvedic cleansing therapies that help to reset the body clock, rebalance the doshas and remove ama from the system. Ama is an accumulation of toxins that can form in the body from poor diet, undigested foods, stress, lack of appropriate exercise and a generally unhealthy lifestyle. Pancha karma is best practiced under the care and guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner and involves many facets, however Kichadi is a food easily made at home and very easy to digest for any meal especially during the transition of the seasons.
Kichadis take on endless variations depending on the herbs, spices and vegetables used. They are very sattvic (balancing to the body, harmonious to mind) and easy to digest.
TRIDOSHIC SPRING KICHADI
4 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Half a medium onion finely diced
1 inch fresh peeled ginger, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon hing (asafoetida) (reduces the gaseous nature of beans)
1 cup split mung dal
3/4 cup white basmati rice
1/2 bunch spinach (alternate with 1-2 cups of other greens or veggies such as asparagus, zucchini or a combination)
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt/rock salt
4 1/2 cups water (may add more water for a more watery soup kichadi or less for a drier stew)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the ghee on medium and add the onions and ginger to sauté until tender. Add the cumin, fennel and coriander seeds, sauté for 2 or so more minutes. Add the hing and stir in. Wash the dal and rice until the rinse water is clear, drain well and add to the mixture. Sauté for a few more minutes and add the cold water, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir, lower heat and simmer on low until tender with the lid on, about 20 minutes. While the kichadi is cooking wash and chop the spinach/greens. Add the greens to the top of the mixture and replace the cover. Allow to ‘steam’ on top for 5-8 minutes. Stir in and add salt and mix in. (If you are using veggies that take longer to cook than greens (like squash), add to mixture 10 minutes before done).
Garnish with a squeeze of lime, fresh cilantro or parsley, a small dollop more of ghee and toasted sesame seeds.