Cleansing, or clearing excess from your life, is an important and valuable ritual. Whether it is accumulated toxins, excessive thoughts, undigested emotions, too much activity, or excess belongings in the home, “clearing the clutter” helps to cleanse the body, mind, and spirit. Cleansing can look like many things, and in Āyurveda we always consider the individuals’ unique and present needs.
It is recommended to clear out accumulated excess at the change of seasons, especially in the spring and fall. A simple home cleanse can help to rest and reset the system, clear out toxins or excess doṣa, and bring peace and rejuvenation to the body-mind spirit. Taking at least three days to slow down, detach from excess stimulation, and eat a kitchari mono diet (or some other one-pot vegetarian meal) during times of change (seasonal or otherwise) is a wonderful and supportive form of preventative medicine. Cleansing can also serve as a reset button to refocus into healthy, supportive routine and habits.
In this article I am talking about a simple three day mono-diet cleanse that anyone can do at home. You could also engage in gentle, weekly cleansing, by eating a mono-diet for all three meals one day per week, and avoid snacking. For any multi-day cleanse, plan to start at a time when you have a light schedule with out too many work or social obligations. The less engaged you are with the outside world, the more able your body-mind-spirit will be to cleanse and detoxify.
The week before you begin your cleanse, it is helpful to start to slow down and concentrate your diet on vegetarian meals. Weaning yourself off of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and refined food is ideal. Get your bills, laundry, household chores, and phone calls out of the way, if possible. De-clutter your house, and create a sacred space for writing, reflection, yoga, meditation, or any other spiritual practice. It is helpful to come up with a daily routine for your cleanse, and write it down. When we have routine, especially around meals and sleep, the nervous system is more calm, which means we are better able to digest food, emotions, and experiences.
- Wake up before sunrise.
- Brush your teeth and clean your tongue before ingesting.
- Have some warm water first thing upon rising, after cleaning your mouth.
- Spend time daily with your spiritual practice. Try to do at least one sacred practice in the early morning and evening, at the same time each day.
- Eat three meals per day, avoid snacking. If you have blood sugar issues or are feeling weak, take four smaller meals per day.
- Eat your meals at regular times each day. Breakfast 6:00-7:30 a.m., lunch 12:00-1:00 p.m. and dinner 5:00-6:00 p.m.
- Eat slowly, with awareness. Do not eat to full capacity. You want to be satisfied, not full.
- Slow, easy walking is good, no other exercise besides gentle stretching or yoga practice.
- Observe celibacy.
- Drink warm, calming herbal tea in the evening such as chamomile, lavender, and licorice.
- Go to bed before 10:00pm, ideally 9:30 or earlier.
- You will eat the same one-pot meal, ideally kitchari, three times per day for all three days of the cleanse.
- You can find a kitchari recipe on my website, or in any āyurvedic cookbook. Kitchari is basically a stew made with rice and mung beans or red lentils.
- It is best to eat freshly cooked food each day, rather than leftovers. This can be accomplished by cooking enough in the morning for the entire day.
Rejuvenation and post cleanse protocol is of the utmost importance. Do not plan on doing a multi-day cleanse if you cannot commit to slowly weaning yourself off for at least 3 days. It is very important to give your body-mind-spirit space and time to convert back to a regular flow, so as not to inflict harm to the system.
- Plan to take 3-5 days to slowly move back towards your usual diet and lifestyle routines.
- Gradually add additional cooked and whole foods one at a time. Start by adding different plant based foods that you usually digest well. If your regular diet consists of animal based foods, add in dairy first then meat, not on the same day. Make sure you are digesting well as you add in additional foods one at a time.
- Continue any/all of the daily practices from above, including spiritual practice and mealtime regularity.
- Avoid extreme exercise such as running. Do not push yourself physically for at least one week. Gentle walks in nature are wonderful for rejuvenation.
- Avoid sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods for as long as possible. When/if you choose to bring them back in, strive to use half of what you were ingesting before.
Contraindications: Do not do a home cleanse without consulting a trained professional if you are pregnant, nursing, menstruating, or in an acute state of illness or infection.
Taking the time to cleanse is a gift to the body-mind-spirit. You can look at it as a retreat, and use the time to go inward. When we take time to care for ourselves we are better able to care for those around us. If you are interested in deeper forms of cleansing, please schedule a consultation with myself or another trained professional. There are many ways to go about a cleanse, and with professional assistance, your cleanse can be tailored to your specific needs.