After a summer spent enjoying long days, late dinners with Rosé wine, and iced coffees, fall is upon us. The leaves have slowly begun to change colors and the air has shifted to being a little dryer and cooler as the daylight hours diminish. According to Ayurvedic principles, our bodies are trying to adjust and become more like our exterior environment--dry and cool. Cleansing at this time of year helps keep our three doshas, Pitta, Vata, Kapha, in balance. The vata dosha, characterized as cold, dry and ever changing, takes over in the fall and if left unbalanced, can create excess toxins-ama- that accumulate in our system both physically and psychosomatically and create sickness of all sorts.
Being rather obsessed with health from a young age but also adventurous, I have tried dozens of cleanses over the years: the master cleanse, the clean diet cleanse, the juice cleanse, spent cleanse, 3 day cleanse, vegan cleanse; the list goes on and on. Each of these cleanses had pluses and minuses and most of them left me feeling lighter, but the feeling didn't last long and I often ended up getting sick after the cleanse was over.
In 2006 I had the opportunity to study with Ayurvedic Doctors, Scott Blossom and Robert Svoboda, who coached me through a week-long Ayurvedic cleanse called the Purva Karma, which left me feeling more energetic, happier, healthier and a few pounds lighter. I do this cleanse each spring and fall since the change of season is the perfect time to engage in such sense withdrawal. This cleanse involves sesame oil self-massage on the skin and eating kitchari, (a stew made of mung beans, basmati rice, ghee and herbs). I eat this 2-3 times a day and in between meals sip detox tea (a blend of cardamom, anise and fennel). At night I will take a couple of triphala pills and the last night of the cleanse I take 1 tablespoons of castor oil--inevitably followed by a number of trips to the bathroom in the morning--and the rest of the day I fast with just water and tea. I find this fast the most rewarding, feel-good and effective fast for 7 reasons:
1. I can still be a good mom and work. I'm a busy working mother, which requires a lot of energy. I'm often running from one place to the next in order to fit it everything that I need to accomplish in a day. I simply cannot do it without food to sustain me.
2. I feel nourished. Because I am preparing it daily, it's always fresh and satisfying. I tend to be very bothered by the dry and chilly wind that starts in the fall, so I find this warm stew helps keep my insides warm and my skin soft.
3. I save money. I purchase the entire cleanse kit online which costs $68 for the week, and sometimes my husband eats it for dinner too.
4. I lose weight. I don't feel hungry since the kitchari is quite filling and satisfying so I lose weight without even realizing it. My pants always fit me a little looser after this week of cleansing.
5. I get off caffeine and alcohol. Granted, the first couple days are a little difficult but after I adjust I sleep much better and I feel great in the morning. Instead of coffee when I wake up, I sip ginger tea or lemon water which helps my digestion and tastes great. I give up the glass of wine with dinner in exchange for detox tea.
6. I feel happy. Because my digestion is working better and I'm sleeping better without the caffeine, I'm in a much better mood.
7. I become more patient. Because I am forced to slow down, I am able to be more conscious and hence more patient. Cleansing isn't just about eating less or losing weight. It's also about staying away from emotional and mental toxins. That means sticking close to home and really turning my eye inward. Being gentle with myself and sensitive to both my inside and outside environment helps me discover habits I may have never noticed before. I find this week to be introspective, and I keep activities to a minimum.
Here is what you'll need:
*3 lbs. organic basmati white rice
* 1.5 lbs. split mung beans
* 1/2-1 cup blend of: mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ginger, turmeric, sea salt and asafoetida
*8 oz. jar of organic ghee or coconut oil for those vegans.
*1-bottle triphala tablets
*16 oz. bottle organic sesame oil
* Detox tea (blend of cardamom, anise seed, fennel)
*Vegetables of choice, lemon and cilantro
massage your body and scalp with the sesame oil each morning before showering.
Soak ½ c. mung beans and 1 cup rice for 8 hours.
Rinse till water runs clean then drain water from the mixture.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add 2-3 tablespoons Of ghee or coconut oil.
When oil is hot add 1tsp of spice mixture and wait for the mustard seeds to pop.
Add rice and mung beans and coat with spice and ghee mixture.
Add 3-5 cups of water, stir, and after it comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cover for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add a vegetable of choice (such as sweet potato, kale, carrots or peas) the last couple minutes before it's finished and cook until soft.
Serve in a bowl and squeeze fresh lemon juice and sprinkle cilantro on top.
This should be enough for 1 day. Repeat this daily for the next 5-10 days. Between meals sip detox tea or ginger tea. At night before going to bed take 2 triphala tablets with water. As you near the end of cleanse be mindful not to jump straight back into your regular routine. Notice what you would like you get back to and what you would like to avoid and take the next couple days slowly so you don't undo the benefits of the cleanse.
Please join me. I start on Oct. 12 and I will be answering questions and giving details on my progress daily on twitter @karrijinkins. Here's to a healthy and happy Autumn.