Imagine a tree’s cycle through the year: how it buds in spring, bringing forth new life. It then flowers and fruits as the summer appears with its sharp, bright, and penetrating qualities. Then autumn arrives with its winds and cooler air. The leaves change color, dry up, and eventually fall off, scattering themselves, so we have to sweep them up. Finally, winter comes, and its piercing cold can become dull and unctuous, earthy and damp.
Much like trees, our bodies need time between seasons to clear out and prepare for what comes next – which is where seasonal cleansing comes into play.
Why We Cleanse Between Seasons
Each season has a dosha ruling it, with its elements and qualities behind it. The summertime is mostly pitta dosha, meaning it is hot and sharp; the sun is at its height and overhead. Autumn or fall is dry and erratic, windy, and cooler (like vata dosha), while late winter and spring are moist and heavy (like kapha).
The intersections between the seasons are the moment we have to get ‘habituated’ (as Vagbhata puts it) with that which is incoming while letting go of what has been. The best way of doing this is through a cleanse. We clear out so we don’t build up. We make room for the good energy that could be coming rather than becoming dis-eased by holding on to what’s already been.
Without going into too much detail, each dosha has a number of seats and very particular actions therein. But when they get aggravated, i.e. there is over-accumulation (as can happen after a long, hot, stressful summer turning into the different atmospheric pressures of a chilly, windy autumn), they get out of balance and start spilling over. This moving out of their seat is the third stage of the six stages of disease that Ayurveda describes. We want to stop it here and not let the disease process go any further.
Ayurveda also emphasizes the importance of clear channels and subtle pathways of the mind and body. We want our food to give us nourishment (not blockages, constipation, and toxicity) and our thoughts to give us hope and happiness (not stress, worry, and sadness). But if we have build-up, spillover, AND blockages, then we are left in a troublesome body, mind, and spirit situation.
Between seasons, we want to clear the channels, get rid of build-up, stop accumulation, aggravation, and spreading in its tracks, and get ready for the new season. Spring and autumn are opportunities for renewal, a fresh start! So let’s treat it like that. Let’s get those channels clear, bright, and ready for what is to come.
We also want our bodies, minds, and immunities to be clear to do their actual jobs, and not be fighting with our laziness and leftovers from the season before.
How to Cleanse
In general, it’s best to cleanse with the help of an Ayurvedic practitioner, who will consider your dosha and overall health when creating your individual cleansing plan.
Alternatively, you might decide to cleanse at home, using our 7-Day Ayurvedic Cleanse as a guide. If you choose this option, you’ll also want to read our Ayurvedic Cleansing Guide, which provides a comprehensive explanation of why, when, and how to cleanse.