3 Day Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse: A How-To Guide
Are you having a hard time shaking off those winter blues? Feeling sluggish and cold even though the calendar says it’s time for flowers and sunshine?
As the cold dampness of winter loosens its grip on the world, we find ourselves wanting desperately to embrace spring. But sometimes, it’s hard to move out of one season to the next.
During this transition, we find ourselves with an instinctual need to clean — everything from our homes to our bodies.
But if you’re looking for a cleanse to try, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options. There is so much conflicting information out there about nutrition and cleanses in particular. Lucky for us yogis, we have the ancient wisdom of yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, for guidance.
While gaining in popularity now, Ayurveda has been helping people understand their unique bodily make-up for over 5,000 years. This ancient wisdom is the foundation upon which Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was built, and in turn, modern medicine.
Ayurveda understands that each individual is different, and therefore, their dietary needs are different. This health system provides so much insight for those seeking a way to weed through all the advice regarding what to eat and when.
First, understand the doshas.
The basic premise of Ayurveda breaks down everything in nature to three basic elements, called doshas. They are vata, pitta, and kapha. These elements make up everything around us and in us.
Everyone is born with a different combination of these elements within our body and mind. Usually one is more dominant than the others. This dominant element is what we call one’s prakruti.
A quick breakdown of the 3 doshas:
Vata is the energy of air and space. Individuals with vata as their primary dosha are usually slim with small wrists and ankles. They can tend towards dry skin and hair, and do not like cold weather. These individuals are usually creative and fast talkers.
Pitta energy is that of fire. Those with pitta dosha are exactly that — fiery. They have strong digestion and can eat whatever they want. A medium, muscular build is characteristic of this dosha. Red hair is a sure-fire giveaway that someone is a pitta.
Earth and water energy is kapha. Think grounded, steady, and moist. Often kaphas are larger framed, with thick wavy hair and full lips. Kaphas are good-natured, reliable, and are known as great teachers and caregivers. These are the people that can look at a dessert and gain weight.
When one of these elements is out of balance within us, this is what is called vikruti. This is where the healing nature of Ayurveda comes in. It seeks to balance the dosha that has become imbalanced.
One of the basic tenets of Ayurveda is that like elements increase like and opposites balance each other. For example, the fire of pitta will be increased by spicy food and hot weather.
So, when one of the doshas is out of balance in our bodies, we must look to characteristics of the opposite dosha to resolve it.
How the doshas govern the seasons.
From the descriptions above, you may be able to discern which dosha rules which season of the year.
Pitta, with its fire, is the main energy of summer. Regardless of your primary dosha, during the summer, you will want to eat cooling foods and light, small meals to combat this hot energy.
Fall is distinctly vata season. Windy, cool and changing, this season is full of the energy of air. Fall is the time to consume protein and fats. These have the opposite qualities of vata. It’s an ideal time to serve vegetables with a healthy dose of ghee (for easy directions on how to make this healing food click here).
When everything slows down in the winter, the predominant dosha is kapha — often with more than a bit of vata in the mix. Winter means we instinctively gravitate towards root vegetables and cooked grains. Balanced with a bit of fat to oppose vata, this is an ideal diet for this time of year.
Spring brings renewal and life — and yet kapha energy abounds. After the cold, dark winter, kapha has built up within our bodies. Vacillating between slow and damp one minute and warm and windy the next, spring requires a special kind of balance in the diet. Vegetables are key here. Bitter greens, cabbage, and broccoli complimented with spicy peppers are ideal spring staples.
As each season changes, Ayurveda often recommends cleansing, but in the Spring, it is essential to cleanse the excess kapha from our bodies and minds.
The easiest, most delicious cleanse you have ever tried.
If your experience with cleansing up until now has involved complicated recipes, a bunch of broth and extreme hunger, you will be so delighted to try an Ayurvedic cleanse.
This cleanse will not leave you feeling hungry. It is satisfying and delicious. And it is easy to prepare. Yes, you will eat the same thing all day, but you will likely find yourself looking forward to the delicious, nourishing food.
The main component of the cleanse is a dish that is known as kitchari, which is basically a simple mix of spiced mung beans and rice. This recipe is tri-doshic, meaning it will soothe each of the doshas, no matter your imbalance at the moment.
In the morning, use a tongue scraper to rid your tongue of toxins.
Then, have a cup of warm lemon water.
Throughout the day, you can eat as much kitchari as you’d like — whenever you’re hungry. Just try to stop when you feel 80% full, and try to have your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Stick to warm lemon water or Ayurvedic detox tea for your beverages. To make the detox tea, combine 1 teaspoon each of cumin seed, coriander seed, and fennel seed with four cups of boiling water. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, strain, and drink — either warm or at room temperature is fine.
For extra detox, try taking a triphala supplement with your last meal of the day. Triphala is an amazing adaptogen that supports your digestive system and your liver. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend taking triphala daily — it is that gentle and effective.
3 days of this regiment will leave you feeling lighter, refreshed, and ready to welcome spring in all its glory.
The only kitchari recipe you will ever need.
2 tablespoons ghee
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon mustard seed
¼ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon salt
1-inch cube ginger, grated
1 cup basmati rice
½ cup split yellow mung beans
6 cups of water
2-3 cups of finely chopped vegetables of choice (optional)
Soak the beans 6 hours to overnight. Drain.
Heat the ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the ginger, salt, garam masala, mustard seed, and turmeric. Saute for about 1 minute. Next, add in the rice, beans, and water. Bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Cover loosely, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for another 25-30 minutes, until rice and beans are completely tender. Garnish with lime juice, cilantro, and coconut, if desired.
Even though this cleanse is gentle and nourishing, you still may experience some die-off symptoms typical of any cleanse. Remember to take it easy.
And don’t forget to let us know how amazing you feel after you’ve completed the 3 days in the comments! We’d love to hear about your results.