Did you know that cleansing is fundamentally depleting to the mind-body? This is why the Ayurvedic approach is customized to the individual and includes both a preparation and a rejuvenation phase, to support safe and effective cleansing.
Unfortunately, many of the cleansing techniques which are trending now are not personalized to the individual, involve harsh ingredients and methods, with no preparation or follow up protocol to rejuvenate afterwards. While the intention may be good, an improperly performed cleanse may not be effective and its benefits will not be fully felt. In the worst case, unintentional damage could even occur.
In this article, we’ll discuss the key components of Ayurvedic cleanses to ensure maximum effectiveness and safety.
The value of cleansing
Cleansing is well-documented in the Vedas, such as the following passage from the ancient text, Charaka Samhita:
Doshah kadachit kupyanti jita langhana pachanaih
Jitah samsodhanairye tu na tesham punarudbhavah
Doshanam cha drumanam cha mule anupahate sati
Roganam prasavanam cha gatanam agatir dhruva
(Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana 16:20-21)
These lines explain to us that the mind-body imbalances (Dosha imbalances) can be managed from time to time by pacifying the imbalances through a reductive approach and enhancing the digestion. If the imbalances are managed through an Ayurvedic cleanse, it not only helps to manage the imbalances temporarily, but also helps to prevent the recurrence of imbalances. This means cleansing can actually prevent disease!
Routine cleansing was necessary during ancient times for the same reasons as today – to support the removal of accumulated toxins, which are the root cause of illness. With epic amounts of stress in our lives today, including toxins in our environment, food, water, daily items, cleansing is more relevant than ever.
How adequate preparation sets your cleanse up for success
Preparation for cleansing in Ayurveda, known as Purvakarma, is designed to balance Agni (digestive fire). It includes daily routines, exercise, an elimination diet and Agni-boosting supplements, all of which support metabolic function. There is a general theme of “slowing down” during this time.
Digestion consumes a vast amount of energy resources. If the metabolic functioning is weak, the system won’t be able to perform the actions of the detox successfully. The elimination diet removes heavy and harder to digest foods, freeing up energy to digest what is consumed more efficiently, and diverting more energy to your goal: detox!
Customized herbal formulations may be incorporated at this time to boost Agni and assist with digestion.
Daily routines, exercise and sleep
No matter how well you are eating, proper exercise and sleep routines are essential for cleansing successfully. The majority of our detoxification occurs during sleep, assuming our sleep patterns are correct. Exercise is equally important to support organ function, tone the body, clear the mind and loosen toxins. Additional rituals during the preparation phase may include cleansing of the outer body, eyes, ears, skin, self-massage with oil.
On a subtle level, preparation allows the mind to focus. Detoxing is not just about food or limited to the physical body. According to Ayurveda, the definition of a “toxin” includes any toxic energy – such as thoughts and emotions! Part of a cleansing lifestyle program involves essential self-nurturing rituals, Yogic exercises and breathwork to help unblock the toxic patterns of the mind. Additional rituals such as meditation, self reflection and journaling – whatever helps you connect to Self will support the process. The result: a more effective release on all levels.
Rejuvenation: the integration period
The rejuvenation, or Rasayana phase is like a soothing warm bath after a hectic day of physical and mental exertion. After cleansing, your system will be vulnerable and need special care. Just as Savasana (corpse pose) at the end of a Yoga practice is a restful period which allows the mind-body to integrate the benefits from the asana postures, rejuvenation is a phase of integrating the benefits of the cleanse. For this reason, rejuvenation is considered the most important part of cleansing!
Many of the lifestyle rituals from the preparation phase are continued during this phase and are essential to supporting continued well-being. An Ayurvedic cleanse draws much rejuvenating power from the custom herbal formulations taken during this period. Herbs and natural ingredients are used which rebuild tissues, minimize aging and strengthen digestion. The result: a more effective cleanse with lasting results.