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Why Gentle is Best

Hello Dear Friends,

I am getting ready to do my spring cleaning in the form of a gently ayurvedic cleanse, and I wanted to offer you some information this week about the whys and hows of ayurvedic cleansing. May this be a support to you and all.

A lot of us have experienced or heard about radical cleansing practices: long term water fasts, drinking nothing but lemonade for weeks, etc; and while there may be benefit in these approaches for certain people at particular times, this is NOT an ayurvedic approach.  Short seasonal cleanses can last anywhere from 5 – 7 days and emphasize a gentle routine which allows our bodily tissues to relax and simply let go. Like many preventive health systems, ayurveda recognizes a need for periodic cleansing from the inevitable exposure to environmental toxins, poor eating habits and the like. We do this at the juncture between seasons to let go of any excess from the previous season which supports our immune system and gives us a fresh start. Ayurvedic Physician Dr. Robert Svoboda says we can limit ourselves a little bit every day, or Nature will do it for us in the form of illness. Constitution-tailored cleansing is one effective way to support our body’s natural self-healing (There is a deeper ayurvedic cleansing practice called “pancha karma” which is done  less frequently and for longer periods, but only under the supervision of a practitioner).

The preliminary practice to the actual cleanse is  a “pre-cleanse” (purva karma), and is in itself enough to offer a gentle reset to our organism and to support our digestion and immunity.

As modern people we suffer from both depletion due to overwork and excess through overeating and ingesting the wrong kinds of things.  In cleansing we need to introduce more rest and restoration into our life at the same time that we cut back or eliminate the foods that are toxic or harder to digest. The discomfort we feel letting go of our “comfort foods” in the short term provides an opportunity for us to look at what we are really hungry for.  If there are addictions present that we can’t work with alone (alcohol for example), we can get the support we need.

Some of the foods we will cut back on or eliminate during the pre-cleanse are:

  1. sugar

  2. white flour

  3. caffeine

  4. alcohol

  5. processed foods

  6. red meat

  7. dairy products

  8. tobacco and other recreational substances

Some of the good things we will want to introduce/increase are:

  1. Fresh organic vegetables (beets, burdock root and leafy greens are especially good)

  2. High quality organic oils

  3. Fresh seasonal fruits

  4. Whole grains

  5. Organic lighter meats

  6. Plenty of fresh water

If you would like to move into a pre-cleanse period, take a week and follow these protocols:

  1. Start your day with a large glass of room temperature or hot water.  Squeeze fresh lemon into it if you like.

  2. Carry a thermos of room temperature to hot water with you and sip throughout the day.

  3. Eat three meals a day at regular times (lunch the biggest meal of the day) and reduce or eliminate snacking except in the late afternoon if you need it.

  4. Begin to reduce or eliminate the bad stuff while increasing the good stuff (see above).

  5. Continue your yoga and meditation practice. 10 minutes of each/day is sufficient. 15 – 20 minutes is great.

  6. Take a 20 minute walk outside every day.

  7. Treat yourself to a massage, an epsom salt bath and/or a steam/sauna.

  8. Watch less TV/Computer in the evenings.

  9. Go to bed by 10pm, and wake up at or around dawn.

This is also a good time to get a few empty boxes, and clean out your closet, your cupboards, etc and make some space in your physical environment.

In the next few weeks I will offer a simple 1 – 7 day cleanse you can do at home.  Until then, I wish you well in your purva karma (pre-cleanse). If you have comments, please leave them in the space below.

With Love, Shannon

P.S. If you would like to go deeper with this, and receive some guidance on the diet and lifestyle practices to create optimal health and wellbeing, schedule a free strategy session with me here.  I would love to talk to you and hear about your struggles and your goals, and perhaps work together one-on-one.


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