A New Year is just beginning, bringing a little excitement within that you have been given another chance to do all those things you promised yourself last year, but never started. A new lease of life, until you try to put your favorite jeans on and find they won"t even zip up! You"ve gained 10 lbs over the holidays, your hair looks dull, you have no energy and your skin is about as radiant as an old boot! Don"t worry, all you need is a good cleanse.|
Ayurveda, the mother of all natural healing systems, tells us that proper digestion is crucial to staying healthy. When our digestive fire or "agni" is working properly, all of the food we eat is either converted into nutrients for absorption into the body, or flushed out as waste. If the digestive process is incomplete or inefficient, partially digested food matter is left behind in the digestive system. This substance turns into toxins, known as "ama" in Ayurveda. If allowed to stay in the body or build up over time it will disrupt the natural flow of energies within the body and disease will eventually manifest, there will be weight gain, as well as low energy levels. If not dealt with immediately, it will become a vicious circle of poor digestion, ama build up and low immunity etc. Ama is a fertile ground for infections and disorders to germinate, take root and flourish.
So how do we know when things just aren"t working properly? Well, Christmas is a prime example. Our routines are blown. We often eat at times we would normally not eat and we eat too much. The digestive process leaves behind toxins either when you eat foods that are not fresh, natural or suited to your constitution and digestive capability, or when you follow eating routines and practices that are not ideal. Eating processed or artificially flavored foods and foods that are grown with chemical pesticides and fertilizers can lead to toxin build-up. Drinking iced water or ice-cold beverages douses the digestive fire and causes ama to be generated. Eating heavier foods after sundown, eating when we haven"t finished digesting the previous meal, eating when stressed will all cause problems for our digestion.
Too many toxins? How to tell.
If you experience three or more of these general indications you may have an accumulation of toxins in your system. You would probably benefit from a cleansing regime.
- There is a white coating on your tongue first thing in the morning.
- After a main meal you feel really tired and just want to curl up and snooze.
- Your energy levels are really low and you feel tired and lethargic all day long, even though you eat well and sleep well.
- Your appetite is poor or you crave junk foods.
- You feel "spaced out", lack enthusiasm and your mind is cloudy.
- You experience abdominal bloating and gas, especially after a main meal.
- You feel heavy and congested or constipated.
- You have a general sense of malaise, with vague aches and pains.
The Cleansing Process
In Ayurveda "Pancha Karma" cleanse and rejuvenation is normally done with the change of seasons. It was originally developed for the well to do and royalty in India to prolong life and health. Today, many people from all walks of life commit to Pancha Karma once a year for disease prevention and to transform and grow emotionally and spiritually. Spring, especially, is considered an ideal time to flush toxins from the body. A full Pancha Karma cleanse should be done under the supervision of an Ayurvedic physician only, as it is a complex process designed for an individuals needs.
There are three stages in Pancha Karma cleanse.
- Stage 1: Purva Karma, preparing the body - The goal of Purva Karma is to prepare the body tissues for the cleanse and release of toxins. One to three weeks before the actual cleansing certain foods and drinks are eliminated. The body is massaged with warm oils to loosen toxins in the tissues and heat therapies such as steam are used to liquefy the toxins and move them back into the digestive track.
- Stage 2: Pancha Karma, the purification phase - Ayurveda uses techniques such as fasting or cleansing herbs, chanting, yoga, breathing, purging and herbalized enemas during pancha karma for cleansing toxins out of the body, mind and emotions. What is used will depend on the individual"s constitution.
- Stage 3: Rasayana or rejuvenation phase - During the rejuvenation phase, Ayurveda gives healing herbs, tonics and high quality foods.
Obviously, we cannot all spend the time or money to have a full Pancha Karma treatment. So I have put together a simple Ayurvedic cleanse you can do at home, and you don"t have to wait until the spring either.
At home "mini" pancha Karma cleanse:
- Stage 1: For one week eliminate from your diet all foods that can create ama. This includes leftovers, foods with preservatives, additives or chemicals, and foods grown in an environment laced with chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and canned, frozen or processed foods. Eliminate junk foods from your diet. No desserts, no meats and cheeses, deep-fried foods, chocolate, white sugar, carbonated drinks, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Minimize breads made with yeast and fermented foods. Avoid raw foods such as uncooked salads, sprouts and cold sandwiches, because raw foods are harder on the digestive system. Avoid yogurt, as it sometimes clogs the channels of the body. Avoid iced water and cold beverages. Eat whole, fresh, natural foods, organic if you can get it. Buy your produce fresh, and consume it quickly. Eat cooked foods, warm or at room temperature. Drink lots of warm water through the day.
- Stage 2: Following week add coriander, cumin, fennel and ajwain (carum copticum) teas to your day-to-day digestion-enhancing spices to choose from. Include lots of cleansing fruits and vegetables in your diet. Barley water or rice kanjee, made by cooking a small amount of grain with a large quantity of water (1/2 cup to 10 cups) are also wonderful cleansers of the digestive system and the urinary tract. Greens, daikon radish, bitter gourd, cabbage and celery are examples of cleansing vegetables. Cooked apples and pears are a great way to get elimination going in the morning. Prunes, pineapple, papaya and pomegranate are other fruits that aid digestion and cleansing. Herbs such as cilantro, mint, fresh ginger and lemon are also helpful for cleansing and purifying the digestive system. Cook with digestion enhancing, detoxifying spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, clove, ajwain, fenugreek, dried ginger, Chinese cinnamon and fennel. Add the turmeric to foods as they are cooking, and sauté other spices in ghee or olive oil and pour over prepared dishes for the best therapeutic benefit.
Follow Ayurvedic guidelines for proper digestion. Eat three meals a day at about the same times, eat lighter in the morning and evening than in the afternoon, and eat in a quiet, pleasant atmosphere. Get lots of rest. Sleep is important any time of year, but especially during purification, when your body needs the quiet time to cleanse itself and recharge. Go to bed early and rise early. Meditate everyday. Stress contributes to disrupted digestion, and meditation can help reduce stress levels. Exercise, done everyday, is important. Exercise early in the morning. Walking is excellent exercise for all body types. Practice deep breathing to draw in oxygen and cleanse the air channels of the body. Avoid napping during the day. The Ayurvedic daily massage, called abhyanga, helps loosen toxins deeply embedded in body tissues for ease of elimination. If there is a day spa that offers Ayurvedic rejuvenation treatments in the area, treat yourself to a shirodhara-a routine where a stream of warm oil is poured steadily on the forehead for 30-45 minutes, followed by a scalp massage. The shirodhara is wonderful for calming the mind and nervous system and recharging the entire physiology. Regular elimination is important. Empty your bowel and bladder regularly to flush the toxins that have been loosened or released from the tissues, joints and organs out of the body before they get back into circulation. At the next change of seasons, perform the cleansing routine again to keep ama out of the system and to support natural good health and vitality on a long-term basis.
Note: This information is educational, and is not intended to replace standard medical care or advice. Before making changes to your diet or lifestyle, please consult your physician.
Author Bio :
Written by Jennifer Beckman of the Vedic Cultural Fellowship, where you can study or apply the sciences of natural Ayurvedic Medicine, Hatha Yoga (including the 8 steps of ashtanga), and gem therapy to achieve spiritual well-being. You can also learn to meditate, obtain your horoscope based on Vedic astrology signs, or practice other arts that have their origin in the Vedas. http://www.vedicworld.org/ Balaji Natural Gems www.planetaryjewels.com
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