Ayurveda and aligning with nature
Ayurveda, the 5,000 year old healing science aims at preserving health and preventing diseases. It attends to your unique needs through individualized protocols. It also recognizes that we are part of nature and aligning with natural rhythms leads to optimal health.
Your Ayurvedic constitution (Prakriti), imbalances (Vikrati) and even nature are governed by three energy principals or Doshas:
- Vata, the energy of movement comprised of the elements, air and ether
- Pitta, the energy of metabolism comprised of water and fire
- Kapha, the energy of cohesion, comprised of earth and water
Preventative health involves maintaining the balance of Doshas, adopting a daily regimen (Dinacharya), seasonal regimen (called Ritucharya) and aligning with the stage of life you are in. Ritucharya is essential because every season brings its own qualities and imbalances to address; for instance, winter brings cold and winter blues and fall is besieged by dryness, restlessness and irregularities.
The seasons guide us when to cleanse
Spring cleaning typically involves homes and yards. But how about you? In the wild, winter is a harsh time. It is only humans who import foods from other climates and maintain artificial summer-like temperatures at home, but don’t lose toxins and weight naturally during the harsh weather. Spring beckons you to go outdoors and get active as animals emerge from hibernation, flowers bloom, grass turns green and mating season begins. Though it takes a while to shake off the winter sluggishness and torpor (slowing down of metabolism). It is nature’s New Year, but it requires some adaptation to stay balanced.
Ayurveda views late winter and spring as Kapha seasons characterized by cold, damp, dull, heavy qualities with stagnation. These environmental factors increase the same qualities in your mind-body complex. Winter has a static quality that is cold yet stable. The body’s protective mechanism shields itself physiologically, preventing dissemination of heat. Your digestive and metabolic fire (Agni) increases as does your appetite and you tend to eat more. Kapha increases but generally doesn’t cause issues.
Spring brings warmth, and just as ice melts, the frozen, accumulated Kapha in the body turns loose, flows and gets aggravated. This clogs mind-body channels (Srotas) and causes stagnation; it weakens Agni, slows digestion and metabolism, lowers energy and vitality, exacerbates weight gain and weakens the system. Ayurveda considers this transition to be a time when immunity is at its lowest ebb in the western world. As a result it is common to encounter respiratory and digestive disturbances, allergies, viral fevers and congestion, depression fatigue and sluggishness.
Spring cleansing is considered the optimal route to strengthen immunity. It eliminates excess Kapha to preserve the balance of the system and prevent disease. What’s great is the season’s elements actually support cleansing. Vaidya. Jayarajan Kodikannath, Academy Director, Kerala Ayurveda calls this holistic detox your annual reset or health maintenance!
Unique features of an Ayurvedic Cleanse
The 2016 Nobel Prize for autophagy4 corroborates the practice of fasting, detoxing and exercise to promote regeneration. Ayurvedic cleanses are time-tested procedures for intervention in the healing process.
You might be wondering what sets an Ayurvedic cleanse apart from other detox programs. There are many unique features to an Ayurvedic cleanse, including:
- An Ayurvedic cleanse is highly effective because it is personalized to your unique needs.
- Cleansing is a means of prevention to maintain good health, and it attends to the root cause of diseases. It is a powerful protocol in reducing stress, managing deep-seated disorders and preventing their recurrence.
- It is holistic and natural, attending to all aspects of health: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
- Ayurvedic detoxification is backed by 5,000 years of experiential Ayurveda.
- The Ayurvedic detox isn’t extreme or a quick-fix but a benign, therapeutic intervention. Extreme cleanses may be beneficial for some time, but can cause digestive disturbances, muscular weakness, degeneration and compromised immunity. Ayurvedic cleanses
- An Ayurvedic cleanse involves three stages: pre-cleanse preparation, the actual cleanse and most importantly, a post cleanse Rasayana or rejuvenation which restores and strengthens immunity. Cleansing is inherently depleting and can lower immunity, a risk of quick-fix cleanses, and the Rasayana phase addresses this.
- An Ayurvedic cleanse combines dietary guidelines, herbal formulations, lifestyle modifications and therapies to enhance digestion and support detoxification.
- The protocol is fully supported and supervised by Ayurvedic professionals.
- Counseling during and post-cleanse provides awareness of one’s tendencies and guidelines to effect sustainable changes in health and overall routine.
- Beyond Pacification: Ayurvedic protocols involve pacification (Shamana) and cleansing (Shodhana). The root text Charaka Samhita asserts that imbalances can be managed by pacification with diet, lifestyle and herbs but if the system is reset through periodic cleansing, that preserves health, addresses deeper imbalances and prevents recurrence of disorders in the future.
Cleansing: the natural immunity program
The body is meant to naturally cleanse and heal but diet, lifestyle, experiences and the external environment compromise this process.
You constantly ingest food, liquids, breath and perceptions. Agni, your digestive and metabolic fire is responsible for their transformation. Over time, endogenous, environmental and psychological toxins called Ama build up. Ama is any material, energy or principal that disturbs the mind-body function and can result from imbalanced Doshas, toxins in the environment that you ingest through your skin or diet and negative thoughts and emotions. Ama lowers immunity and is the main cause of diseases.
This is an extraordinary time that has caused myriad mental health problems, depression, anxiety, stress and grief. Pandemic fatigue has set in and surveys indicate many have let health care practices slip5. Physical health is impacted by stress, snacking or skipping meals, eating at irregular times and sleeping or waking late. Working from home, isolated and stuck to our desks takes an added toll on our routine, increasing the burden of internal and psychological Ama.
What constitutes immunity
Immunity or Vyadhikshamatwam in Ayurveda is defined comprehensively as the ability to resist all diseases and recover faster if you fall sick.
Immunity is classified as:
Kalaja: dependent on time for instance, seasonal variations and age, which explains declining immunity in spring)
Yuktikrutha: (acquired) immunity
Seasonal purification (Kaale samshodhana) is advocated6 to boost acquired immunity.
A Spring Cleanse helps get rid of toxins, manages Agni, balances Doshas, clears, repairs and recoups channels and rejuvenates the mind-body system to reduce stress, enhance acquired immunity and prevent future diseases. It is a natural ‘immunity program’!
Immunity and lifestyle disorders
Cleansing for prevention and disease management arrests the journey to future and chronic ailments. Consider someone with Dosha imbalances causing weight gain and complications like joint problems, hypertension and obesity. According to CDC7, 60% of American adults have lifestyle-based diseases like type 2 diabetes, lung, kidney and cardiovascular disorders which are the leading causes of death and disability. Chronic diseases further lower immunity and are comorbidities that render one vulnerable to diseases like COVID-19. Ayurveda as a lifestyle science attends to the root cause of disorders and is uniquely poised to manage chronic ailments through pacification and cleansing therapies.8,9,10
Benefits of Spring Cleansing during the pandemic
Did you know that traditionally Ayurveda suggests cleansing as one of the major protocols in pandemics (Janapadadhwamsa Vyadhi)11? The pandemic has taken its toll worldwide on the mental and physical health of even those who are not sick. Stress is a known factor in lowering immunity12 at a time it is our much needed armor. Add to that, the effect of spring in reducing immunity…a spring cleanse reverses this double whammy by providing these benefits:
- Reducing stress and improving physical and mental wellbeing.
- Enhancing immunity by resetting digestion and detoxing.
- Improving health and motivation through better energy levels, elimination, skin and hair health and sleep.
- Causing weight loss with allied health benefits.
- Rejuvenating weak systems and preventing congestion and allergies.
- Reprioritizing self-care and establishing a healthy schedule and lifestyle that have gone out of whack
Our Spring Cleanse format
Our 21-day Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse is online, personalized and completely supervised by Ayurvedic BAMS Doctors. It begins with a one-hour consultation where we assess your constitution and imbalances, make sure there are no contraindications and provide a customized dietary and lifestyle regimen. You have access to a spring cleanse manual and four webinars at different stages for detailed guidance in a group setting.
We customize digestive herbs for detoxifying Ama and enhancing Agni, followed by internal oleation with herb-infused ghee in increasing quantities, external oleation and sudation with herbs. This facilitates removal of toxins and is followed by gentle purgation or Virechana. A post-cleanse rejuvenation protocol includes Rasayana (immune-boosting, rejuvenating) herbs, diet and lifestyle suggestions.
The main features of this 21-days cleanse are:
- Ayurvedic Spring cleanse manual
- Individual Ayurvedic Consultation – 1 hour
- Lifestyle, diet and exercise plan
- Herbs, Supplements and products
- Personalized Recommendations
- 4 Informational Webinars
- Email Support
- Bonus Follow up session – 30 min
- Stress: The health epidemic of the 21st century (Mind Media)
- More stressed than ever since Covid-19; you are not alone (Healthline)
- Impact of Covid-19 on mental health (PubMed)
- Nobel prize for Autophagy
- First Global Survey Reveals the Effect of Lockdown on People with Obesity (Science Times)
- Vyadhikshamatwa: Critical Understanding (International Ayurvedic Medical Journal)
- Chronic Diseases in America (CDC)
- Panchakarma for Immunity (for International Ayurvedic Medical Journal – ResearchGate)
- Critical Review of efficacy of Panchakarma in preventing diseases through immunity (for International Ayurvedic Medical Journal – ResearchGate)
- Chronic Ailments and Shodhana (Hilaris Publisher)
- Understanding COVID-19 through the Concepts of Ayurveda (Research Gate)
- Stress, Illness and the Immune System (Simply Psychology)