How to Lead an Empowering and Effective Cleanse
As the winter turns into spring, we approach a time that is most optimal for cleansing. Ayurveda recognizes seasonal transitions (particularly winter to spring, summer to fall, and late fall to winter) as great times to clean out excess doshas in preparation for the new season. Having run cleanses myself, I have learned several lessons (sometimes the hard way) that hopefully you can learn from in order to set your clients up for success!
There are a few pointers to keep in mind before starting. This is the most important phase!
First, be very aware of who your audience is. Are they long-time Ayurveda enthusiasts who have done cleansing before? Are they looking for detailed cleansing instructions or perhaps just a support group? Would they be interested in a short, basic cleanse, introducing key concepts of Ayurveda, or are they wanting a deep cleanse with deeper cleansing practices and good instructions?
Secondly, my general recommendation is to keep it simple unless this is a special group of people who are all asking specifically for an in-depth cleanse, no matter how much time and investment it takes. I made this mistake the first time I ran a cleanse. It was a twenty-one day cleanse, and I thought that if I just said, “do what you feel comfortable with” and that I could help modify or cater the program to their needs, then everyone would be okay. I was wrong. It was very overwhelming for my audience, most of whom were relatively new to Ayurveda.
Think through what supportive material will benefit your audience. Support, support, support! Cleansing is not easy, especially when their friends are eating what they want or if they have a hectic schedule. What is helpful for them? Daily meal planners, grocery lists, recipes, daily checklists? What about signs that they should be looking for everyday (tongue inspection, appetite levels, stool patterns)? Easy-to-read reference sheets that they can stick on the refrigerator or bathroom door are the best! Use illustrations, beautiful colors, neat animations—make it fun!! We have many resources that you can use for free (see below!).
Think of a schedule. Again, you want to be available for support. Will you do weekly check-ins? Will you use Skype, meet in person, or use a conference call line? Usually checking in during major transitions is important to prepare the clients and then help answer questions or trouble shoot.
What are common obstacles they may face? Address them! Be proactive and provide solutions and answers to common issues and obstacles before people even start the cleanse. That way they can set themselves up for success before it even begins. I had a separate sheet in my handbook with tips for these challenges (including headaches, hunger, fatigue, cravings).
This is the most important part for your audience. They need to feel excited, pumped, and above all, they need to believe in the process. Make sure you feel vibrant and you exude vibrancy. Have material prepared to explain why we cleanse in Ayurveda, what the process is, and the reasoning behind the process.
My clients were often amazed when I shared ideas like we use a lot of oil in Ayurveda to remove natural toxins (ama) and that we now know from modern science that most toxins are fat-soluble (hence they blend easily with the oils and are eliminated with them). The intellect (buddhi) loves this stuff. My experience has been that the more you can convince the buddhi, the more it will comply and interfere less with the process during the hard times of a cleanse.
Before your clients convene for the kick-off, be sure that they have made these preparations:
- They have the handbook or supportive material and have had time to read through it.
- They have checked in with their health care practitioner if they are taking medications, have a medical condition, or recently have had surgery. Make sure they are not pregnant!
- They understand and have prepared to take it easier during this time. Hopefully they have preplanned their work schedule to work less or take time off.
- They have told their family and friends about the cleanse. It is best for them to withdraw a bit and have their closest support group prepared to cheer them on, instead of being skeptics.
- They have a shopping list of supplements and have had time to order and receive them. Basics to include are plenty of ghee, kitchari ingredients, triphala, massage oil, and Chyavanprash (all included in our Ayurvedic Cleanse Kit too!).
CRUCIAL: Set an Intention
Our bodies and minds respond immensely to affirmations and intentions. They align our whole energetic being and gear up every cell in our body to work towards a goal. They invoke the correct inner machinery, even on a genetic level, to start functioning and producing in a way that supports that goal.
Before the cleanse, encourage your clients to set an intention for why they want to cleanse. It may be to heal from some physical challenge, to be more energetic, or to clear out emotional and mental blockages. Do the same for yourself. Why are you investing this time and energy? What are you wanting to offer? What are you wanting to receive?
Having crystal clarity on the intention increases compliance, enthusiasm, stamina, and the body’s overall responsiveness to the cleanse.
During the cleanse, remember that you are their greatest advocate and biggest cheerleader! Throughout the process and during all check-ins, celebrate their success and “aha!” moments and the mere fact that they are doing this for themselves.
Make sure they are set up with clear instructions and tools that they need for the next step in the cleanse. We have many resources on the details of the cleanse, whether it be a quick one-day digestive reset, a simplified three-day cleanse, or a more traditional Ayurvedic cleanse (lasting up to twenty-one days). We even have a free Ayurvedic Cleanse E-book. Feel free to use these resources to draw information from or even print or email out as their cleanse guide. A chart with a daily schedule is very helpful.
Beyond the Physical Aspects of the Cleanse
As we all know, there are aspects of a cleanse that require attention beyond the physical logistics of a cleanse (what you eat, when you do basti, etc). Consider how you will navigate and guide your clients through these.
- When we cleanse our physical being, our emotional and mental beings also cleanse. How are your clients going to work through this? Herein is the importance of slowing down the daily routine and responsibilities during a cleanse. Encouraging clients to journal, meditate, or perhaps even work with a counselor during the cleanse can be very helpful.
- Food and the practice of eating is a central focus point in Ayurveda. Remind your clients to eat at regular times, without distractions (no T.V., email, phones!), and in a positive environment. Taking a few breaths before the meal, centering, and focusing on gratitude before a meal really helps with digestion, as does eating in a mindful manner (paying attention to texture, color, and the tastes).
- Nourish and cleanse the senses with practices like spending time in nature and looking at and listening to natural things. Also cleanse the senses by putting oil in the ears to nourish the hearing sense, using Nasya Oil or a Neti Pot to cleanse the smelling sense, doing oil pulling with Daily Swish (or other oils) and scraping the tongue to cleanse the taste organs, and doing abhyanga every day to soothe and bring balance to the sense of touch.
- Renew the client’s prana flow by introducing some basic (or more advanced if the audience are more familiar with Ayurveda) pranayama and yoga that they can do during a cleanse. Calm, slow Nadi Shodhana and some restorative yoga goes a long way.
Bringing Closure to the Cleanse
Some of your clients may be more than ready to be done with the cleanse and others may still be processing or detoxing. If they are part of the latter, encourage continuing at least with the diet aspect of the cleanse (along with adequate hydration and some extra down time) until everything has been processed and flushed out. If they are part of the former group, give them some guidelines before they run off in celebration to the closest bakery or restaurant.
- Ease back into a normal diet. Start with root vegetables, then green vegetables, followed by grains, then dairy, and lastly milk. Give the digestive fire a day or two with each before progressing to the next step. Continue to eat cooked foods.
- Slowly ease back into a normal schedule and continue to get adequate sleep.
- Start the rejuvenation process. Remember that every cleanse in Ayurveda is followed by a nourishing rejuvenation step. For more information read these free guides.
You are doing such a great service to your clients with this process! Believe in your ability to support another person’s healing and renewal process. Be the instrument they need for optimal health!
Do you have any other tips or lessons learned from valuable experiences? Please leave a comment below!