The Impact of our SurroundingsIn Ayurveda, everything is made up of qualities: from our bodies, to the seasons, the weather, and disease. In order to balance these qualities, we need to understand the ebbs and flows of that which we’re surrounded by. Then we know where we might go awry and how to bring back equilibrium. This is a key to treatment in Ayurveda. We want to keep everything in balance. There are guides: the setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moons, the seasons, the blossoming of fruits and flowers on trees as well as the letting go of their leaves. We now live in a world where everything is available to us at all times: electricity, light, TV, and even vegetables from far flung corners of the worlds. These modern conveniences make it easy to get out of tune with the natural cycles. But fortunately, we have Ayurveda to tell us what to do, why to do it and how to do it, so that we may feel grounded and strong within ourselves. Ayurveda is all about making us feel as well as possible throughout our days, years and lifetime, so we can go about our duties with energy and resilience.
So why do we do an Ayurvedic Autumn Cleanse?Each season is made up of different qualities, and because of the rule of 'like increases like' and 'opposites diminish each another', there is a tendency throughout a season for there to be a build up over that time period. Summer is mostly ruled by pitta dosha, and when pitta gets aggravated, it can lead to a build up of heat in the body, verging into inflammation, rashes, eye problems, digestive system issues, irritability and anger in the mind, the list goes on. Autumn is ruled by vata dosha meaning there is an influx of air and ether elements. Leading to other types of digestive issues, pains in the body, dry skin, bloating, trouble sleeping, anxiety, worry, depression, again the list can go on and on. Then at the junction between the two we see this perfect storm of a meeting of elements. Add air to fire, what happens? It sure doesn’t put it out, it aggravates it further! And we don’t want that... So we cleanse our bodies at the beginning of autumn. Reset our systems, clear our channels, stop potential blockages that could lead to pathology, get our immune system on point, feel full of energy for life and our endeavours, as opposed to lethargy and dullness. It is about cleansing and resetting our systems and getting us in tune with our environment.
How to do an Ayurvedic Autumn CleanseAll digestion eventually comes back to how strong our digestive fire (agni) is, so the first step to any cleanse is igniting and stoking the fire, then getting the body to burn off the toxicity lying latent. A simple way of doing this is using ginger, either 1/2 teaspoon of organic dry ginger powder in a cup of warm water sipped 20 minutes before a meal, or fresh ginger boiled in water. My favourite home-cleanse is a kichiri fast. This is a brilliant dish of split mung dahl, white basmati rice, and spices. We eat this for 3, 5, 7, 10 or 12 days, or longer even, depending the protocol. I would suggest that you speak to an Ayurvedic Practitioner in order to get full guidance and support, as all our systems are different but here is an outline of the steps:
- Take 1/2 tsp of dry ginger in 1 cup of warm water 20 minutes before each meal for a couple of days leading up to your fast.
- Do a kicihri cleanse (where you eat just kichiri for breakfast, lunch and dinner) for 3, 5 or 7 days. The length of this fast varies according to the make up of your body and mind, as well as your lifestyle and responsibilities during this period, as you need to be able to rest for most of the time throughout the fast.
- The body can be further supported before and during the fast by oleation (snehana) treatments, by use of ghee or ghruta, as well as abhyanga oil massages.
- Once the body and mind has made it through this cleansing process, it is ready to be rejuvenated and revived by Rasayana therapy such as eating Chyawanprash (my favourite rejuvenating nectar).