As we move from the holidays into the New Year, you may be feeling the residual effects of endless grazing on holiday fare now. That feeling of bloating, slow digestion and low energy can be a sign of accumulated toxins, known as ama. As a result of rich ingredients, poor food combining, lack of sleep and stress, we weaken our digestive system and in turn our immune system. But not to worry, the body is resilient and with the right support, balance can be restored to promote natural detoxification in the body.
Ayurveda & Cleansing
Ayurveda, which translates as the science of life, is a study of finding inner harmony through the balance of the elements and the cyclical rhythms of nature – think seasons and moon cycles. Everything in nature, including us, can be classified by three primal energies, known as doshas, that categorize the 5 elements. Vata dosha, the element of air and ether, governs the season of fall and early winter, and the functions of the nervous system and the eliminatory system in the body. Pitta dosha, the element of fire and water, governs late spring and summer season, and the liver, skin, metabolism and digestive system in the body. Kapha dosha, the element of water and earth, governs late winter and early spring, and regulates the water in the tissues and lymphatic system. Through self-study and the science of Ayurveda, we learn to flow with this beautiful dance to keep our bodies and minds in sync with the seasons and the changing elements.
Our bodies are constantly evolving with the influence of the elements around us, each season we shift and so must our diet and lifestyle in order to maintain that inner harmony and balance. The practice of cleansing is considered a vital way to stay in tune with ourselves and the seasons. A simple Ayurvedic cleanse aims reset the digestive system and restore to balance agni, our digestive fire. A deep Ayurvedic cleanse is best conducted in the spring to release the accumulation of kapha built up from a heavy winter diet and slow activity. However, the New Year is a great time to get a jumpstart on supporting your body in winter and finding balance after the holidays.
1) Eat Simply
Ayurvedic cleansing uses the concept of mono-dieting to give the digestion a rest from complex food combining and heavy ingredients. We simplify the diet to a one-pot meal of kitchari, an ancient healing recipe of mung beans, rice and spices. The combination of rice and beans makes a complete protein, giving you enough nutrients to sustain a restful daily routine from this dish alone. The spices – like ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin and fennel – are anti-inflammatory and cleanse the blood, helping to remove ama and improve agni. To conduct a simple food cleanse at home, lovingly prepare a pot of kitchari and enjoy this meal 2-3 times a day for several days, alongside herbal digestive teas, like ginger or fennel tea, and restful activities.
2) Establish Routine
Dinacharya, the Sanskrit word for daily routine, is the practice that outlines our rituals of self-care. In Sanskrit, dina means day, sun or flow, and charya means practice or conduct. These daily rituals were developed to keep the body in tune with the seasonal cycles and rhythms of the day to promote natural detoxification. Each morning, wake with the sun, set your daily intentions, cleanse the senses through oil pulling, neti kriya (nasal rinsing), dry skin brushing, oil massage and bathing, followed by meditation and mindful movement. These practices, performed in the sacred morning hours create a healthy, grounded foundation for the rest of your day.
3) Rest & Reflect
Coming out of the busy holidays, it’s important we take time to rest and renew our bodies and minds. In the season of vata, we need slow, calming and nourishing activities to ground and support our nervous system. Excessive activity creating stress and anxiety can lead to adrenal fatigue, indigestion, and disturbed sleep that cause weight gain. Instead of punishing our bodies at the gym for overindulging over the holidays, consider slowing down and enjoying restorative activities like gentle yoga and meditation as a way to nurture and support your body so you can restore balance to the vital systems. Give yourself permission to take pause and turn your energy inwards as you set your healing intentions for the year ahead.
*These three elements form the foundation of my New Year Renewal | 14 Day Holistic Cleanse. Join me and special guest teacher, Adena Rose Ayurveda, to learn more about creating a cleansing diet and establishing a nourishing self-care routine in winter. Receive all the tools and guidance you need to cleanse at home with the support of a like-minded community online. Learn more about the cleanse here. Registration closes January 2nd, sign up soon to join us in the new year! Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to visit more about the program.
1 cup whole or split mung beans, soaked overnight
1 cup white basmati rice soaked overnight
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp whole cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp pink salt
1-2 tbsp ghee
Drain and rinse the beans and rice. Transfer to a large pot and add in the spices, cover with 6 cups of water to start. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer until well cooked. For a soupier variation, continue adding water until desired consistency is reached. For a thicker stew-like variation, cook until water is almost absorbed. Before serving, add the ghee and season with salt as needed. Serve with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a heaping handful of cilantro and spoonful of ginger chutney.
Makes 4 servings
4 tbsp umeboshi or rice vinegar
½ cup fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp raw honey
In a small pot on low heat, warm the vinegar and add ginger. Cook on low heat and stir frequently for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the salt and honey at the end. Transfer to a glass jar and store in the fridge until ready to use.
Makes ½ cup