Give Thanks to Your Body

A Gentle Autumn Cleanse For Vata-Pitta and Pitta-Vata Types

megan vp #1

Megan, Banyan Customer Service Supervisor, yogini and lover of flowers embodies a Vata Pitta constitution.

Your body is remarkably intelligent and incredibly hard working. Day in and day out, it processes all kinds of inputs – distinguishing what’s good for you from what’s not, doing its best to eliminate any harmful substances alongside routine metabolic waste. But these days, our bodies are inundated with a never-ending barrage of stressors: environmental toxins, processed foods, unresolved emotions, and psychological stress, to name a few. Inevitably, in attempting to “digest” it all, we accumulate some degree of toxicity – which, over time, can build up in the system, deposit in the tissues, and compromise our health. But there is something you can do to give your body a break. Actually, this is precisely the idea behind an Ayurvedic cleanse: to slow the flood so that the body can rest, recuperate, and repair itself. And amazingly, when the deluge of inputs slows, your body will immediately take advantage of the lull to do some very deep cleaning.

The practice of cleansing is considered a vital part of an Ayurvedic lifestyle, with great potential for improved energy, strength, and immunity, as well as a renewed love of life. An Ayurvedic cleanse serves to rest and purify the digestive system while addressing the root cause of any imbalances. The entire process works to draw toxins out of the tissues and into the digestive tract so that they can be eliminated, and simultaneously removes excess vata, pitta, and kapha to promote improved balance and overall health.

Below, you will find everything you need to implement a simple, food-based cleanse at home this fall. However, even a gentle cleanse like this one is not appropriate for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or anyone who is extremely weak or debilitated. On the other hand, if you are considering becoming pregnant, Ayurveda highly recommends that both partners undertake a cleanse approximately three months prior to conception.

What To Expect

This particular cleanse is seven days in length, but plan on giving the process about two weeks for optimal results. This timeframe allows for proper preparation before the cleanse and eases you slowly back into your normal routine afterwards. A traditional Ayurvedic cleanse involves four distinct phases, each critically important to your success:

1. Preparation

Three Days Prior To The Cleanse (longer, if possible)

For a few days leading up to your cleanse, focus on cleaning up your diet and habits to prepare the body for an effective cleanse. You will want to eliminate (or at least dramatically reduce) your use of coffee, caffeine, tobacco products, alcohol, and any recreational drugs. At the same time, reduce your intake of fast foods, processed foods, meat, refined sugars, and sweets. During this time, eat as many simple, whole foods as possible (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds).

2. Active Cleansing

Core Seven Days Of The Cleanse

This is the heart of the cleanse. During this time, you will eat a very simplified mono-diet of kitchari (basmati rice cooked with split mung beans). This diet is substantive enough that you can maintain your essential responsibilities but it simultaneously resets the digestive system, supports the elimination of toxins, and balances vata, pitta, and kapha. During this seven day period, other cleansing practices such as abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage), gentle exercise, and detoxifying herbs can enhance the impact of the cleanse.

3. Reintroduction

Three Days Following the Cleanse (longer, if possible)

Even after you complete the seventh day of the cleanse, your body will still be processing the toxins that were stirred into circulation. And, your digestive system will have become accustomed to a very clean diet and will be somewhat sensitive to overly stimulating or processed foods. Therefore, a slow transition back into your normal routine and a more diverse diet is critically important. This three-day period is a chance to buffer your system and to rekindle your agni (digestive fire) so that it can handle more complex foods. Again, eat primarily simple, whole foods, diversifying your menu very gradually. If possible, take this time to test the waters with foods that are potentially aggravating like dairy, wheat, and soy – ideally, reintroducing these foods one at a time and giving yourself up to 24 hours to observe how your body responds.

4. Rejuvenation

Up to Three Months Following the Completion of the Cleanse

This is the final step in any Ayurvedic cleanse. Now that you’ve cleared your body of accumulated toxins and imbalances, your tissues are primed to receive very deep nourishment. Rejuvenating foods and practices are usually sweet and comforting, and most people find this phase of the cleanse quite enjoyable. If you received an email about this cleanse, you will receive a second email in about two weeks detailing the rejuvenation process. If you’d like to know more now, click here.

Please Note: This timeframe is ideal, but if you don’t have two weeks to give to a cleanse, you can shorten the phases in proportion to one another. For example, you might do 1-2 days of preparation, 3-4 days of cleansing, 1-2 days of reintroduction, and 1-2 months of rejuvenation.

Planning and Preparation

The more completely you can clear your schedule for this process, the better. At a minimum, eliminate any unnecessary obligations and give yourself as much unscheduled time to rest as possible. A menstruating woman should schedule her cleanse around her cycle to ensure that she is not bleeding during the 7 days of active cleansing. If her period comes unexpectedly, she can continue on the kitchari diet, but should suspend all other practices (abhyanga, nasya, triphala, etc.) until her menstruation is complete.