As summer transitions to fall, sniffling, allergies, insomnia, bloating, restlessness and other symptoms aggravate. Ayurveda addresses these through a Fall Cleanse and Rejuvenation. What does the body-mind complex go through? Hear it in first person! Kerala Ayurveda Academy alumnus and blog writer, Anuradha Gupta shares her journey with approaching a fall detox.
Step 1 – the decision to cleanse
Cleanses haven’t worked for me in the past and I’ve heard some bad storiesCleansing is quite the fad these days. I’ve tried a lime juice cleanse and ended up with dry skin, brittle hair and an episode of reflux. Another cleanse left me cranky and yet another, constipated. Based on this experience, I am suspect of cleansing, to say the least. According to Ayurveda, cleansing may not be “pleasant” the entire time, but it should not create side effects like I have experienced. “Fad” cleanses create side effects due to contraindications with the individual, which I wish I knew before I tried the lime juice cleanse! With proper supervision and customization, plus rejuvenation after the cleansing activity, a detox can safely achieve what it promises: feeling better than when I started.
Can I ____ instead?
I know I need to improve my health and a lot of what I could do better. So why doesn’t making improvements in Ayurveda’s three pillars: lifestyle, sleep and nutrition, suffice on their own? Why do I still have to cleanse on top of that?
Firstly, it’s very hard to adhere to them consistently, and these fluctuations add up over time. On top of that, there are environmental pollutants constantly bombarding us, from fertilizers to genetically modified foods, preservatives or chemicals and such a stressful environment where we are over exposed to social media, negative news, fears about global warming and grappling with – a pandemic! Modern life was meant to make things convenient for us, but it seems to have compromised our health and immunity.
Can I just take formulations routinely to feel better?
The ancient Ayurvedic root text, Charaka Samhita explains how cleansing takes us beyond pacification through herbs and lifestyle. Pacifying the inevitable day-to-day fluctuations and imbalance is important to prevent a worsening of a condition, though a root imbalance may exist and need deeper attention. Deeper cleansing is like pulling out the root of a weed vs. trimming its stalks; it ensures that disorders don’t recur in the future (so long as a healthy lifestyle is maintained). In Ayurveda, cleansing is called Shodhana and is a deeply therapeutic intervention that anyone, healthy or sick can undertake. It includes but goes beyond herbal formulations and supplements. This immune-boosting practice is even more relevant in today’s world facing a global health pandemic. It is to prioritize my health and immunity and keep comorbidities (illnesses like type-2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiac conditions and obesity) in check.
When not to cleanse
There are contraindications to cleansing, and if it is determined that I am not in a state to cleanse right now, I will be asked to go through palliative therapy or Shamana instead which involves modifications in diet, lifestyle and the use of herbal formulations first. Some people are ineligible to cleanse (like kids below 13) and others are suggested to try a gentle cleanse.
Why I am committing to a fall cleanse
As summer transitions to fall, I want to shed things that I don’t need, taking my cue from the trees. I want to create a real turnaround in health! To be guided by a healthcare professional in a group setting is so much more motivating – and fun. This is precisely what Kerala Ayurveda’s fall seasonal cleanse does! Since a lot of celebrities cleanse to shed pounds, I want to add that it’s not merely about weight loss. There is nothing wrong with having a weight goal, and the cleanse does help shed unwanted pounds, but it’s main goal is to improve overall health.
Why do I need cleansing? This article answers all my questions about what. Upon reflection, I realize that I have started sniffling, losing sleep and my appetite varies. I feel I have symptoms of inflammation and restlessness. According to Ayurveda, the summer Pitta (energy of transformation consisting of water and fire element) is declining leaving residual inflammation and the energy principal Vata (energy of movement consisting of elements of air and ether) is setting in causing Vata imbalances which is what I am encountering.
Though traditionally, spring cleanse is well known, Ayurveda says Vata is the master Dosha. So the beginning of Vata season, or the fall, is the most ideal cleanse and rejuvenation time.
Here’s what a fall cleanse will do for me:
- It will help me alleviate imbalances,
- It will prevent them from recurring in the future
- It will prevent new imbalances from creeping up on me
- It will help me understand myself and effect long term changes in my health regimen
A week by week account of the Personalized Fall Rejuvenation
An Ayurvedic cleanse is not like any other cleanse. As a therapeutic procedure it requires a pre-cleanse phase, followed by the actual cleanse, and then a post-cleanse rejuvenation phase. Now, cleansing on its own is inherently Vata provoking for the body, which means it is depleting. The way an Ayurvedic cleanse is structured prevents that from happening by preparing and nourishing the body, strengthening the system and fortifying immunity post-cleansing. In fact, during fall Vata season, rejuvenation is absolutely vital due to its depleting qualities. I would much rather do a therapeutic cleanse with a trained Ayurvedic practitioner for solid health goals than a quick fix fad which may aggravate matters instead of helping.
The program is designed to hold my hand through the entire process – here are the steps!
Step 1 – One hour Individual Consultation
The cleanse will kick off with an individual one hour Ayurvedic consultation with a highly experienced Vaidya, or Ayurvedic BAMS Doctor. Based on this, a personalized plan with customized herbs, supplements and products will be shipped to my home for each stage of cleansing. The protocol depends on my goals and imbalances. I’ll follow a general detox program structure, with details customized, e.g. diet, formulations, duration of therapies.
For example, whether to do a massage with oils or herbal powders is decided by the Vaidya Another example: an individual with a Kapha imbalance may be on a restricted diet during the pre-cleanse and may do an external oleation with lighter, Kapha-pacifying oils. A person with a Pitta imbalance may do only a single day of Abhyanga and either sudation or steaming, with an appropriate therapeutic oil for the massage.
What happens in the mind-body
There is an assessment of my health goals, my individual Ayurvedic constitution (Prakriti) and imbalances (Vikriti) to provide a personalized plan.
This may be a group cleanse, but an immense amount of resources go behind it to ensure all of us have adequate personalization, monitoring, resources and are supported through the journey. These include:
- Elearning Portal Access – I will be provided access to the Kerala Ayurveda elearning portal, which contains all the program resources: a Program Manual, Recipes with nutritional guidelines, and access to four informational webinars.
- Four Informational Webinars – Before the cleanse commences, an orientation webinar details the objectives and stages of the cleanse. Three more webinars will support my experience during the cleanse. This is an opportunity to ask questions and interact with other cleansers who are in the same boat as I am!
- Email Support is provided so that, in addition to the webinars, at any stage I can reach the Vaidya with any concerns I have.
Week 1: pre-cleanse
The first phase of the cleanse involves a change in diet and lifestyle to help my system prepare. A cleanse can only eliminate toxins if they are drawn out of the tissues and organs, and if my digestive strength can successfully move and eliminate them. The toxins (Ama) and my digestion are targeted with personalized formulations and a healthy, easily digested diet. Someone may have to take an herbal tea decoction twice a day with a customized blend of herbal powders. Yet another person may have to take a traditional formulation. Many of us find ourselves exercising more in this phase. Some who may have a Vata imbalance turn to nature walks, while others incorporate extra Yoga in their routine. This is also a time to start cleansing the mind and we are encouraged to minimize social media and reduce toxic interactions.
What happens in the mind-body
Endogenous and environmental toxins (Ama) get cleared and my digestive and metabolic fire, or Agni is strengthened.
Week 2-3: oleation
This is an interesting phase called Snehapana, or internal oleation. I’ll ingest increasing amounts of an Ayurvedic herbalized ghee, or Ghritham, specified for me over the course of several days – the exact amount will be unique to my needs. (In rare cases, someone may be recommended to take oil instead of Ghritham.) There are several kinds of Ghritham, each with different blends of herbs and formulations.
To assist the loosening of toxins, internal oleation is followed by a detailed self-massage (Abhyanga) with herbal oils or preparations, and steaming for typically one to three days. This is the phase of external oleation. Examples of the herbal oils used could be Mahanarayan, Dhanwantharam, Dharani, Santhwanam or any specialized and personalized oil.
During this time, I eat a very healthy mono diet of kichari – mung beans, rice and vegetables, with some steamed vegetables and rice. Over time, my appetite for solid food reduces, which is normal. My system is prepared to purge!
What happens in the mind-body
All the channels in the body are lubricated, saturated and diated, which helps further loosen toxins lodged throughout the body and move them into the gut to be eliminated. I continue to pay special attention to my lifestyle and the management of my mind.
Day 16 – the official cleanse
After oleation is complete, I’m ready to cleanse! The previous two weeks were designed to prepare me for this one day process so it is mild, safe and effective.
On an empty stomach in the morning, I take a formulation for Virechana, or intestinal purgation. An Ayurvedic castor oil preparation like Gandharvahastadi Eranda Thailam or powdered Avapathi Choornam are both common purgatives. This is a day to rest, avoid all activity and sit close to the restroom until the bowel movements cease. I may resume food with some broth, then rice gruel when I’m hungry. My Vaidya can advise me if the purgations exceed what is recommended – for instance, having therapeutic buttermilk or Takra.
What happens in the mind-body
The detox is complete as the accumulated toxins in the gut are eliminated. By this point, I’m feeling clearer, but also lower on energy and needing rest. It’s time to start rejuvenating!
Weeks 3-6: Rejuvenation
My detox is complete, but even with this gentle cleanse, my system is depleted from working so hard to complete the process. I need to be mindful in the weeks following the purgation to have nourishing food, rejuvenating herbal supplements and a supportive lifestyle. I’ll eat a clean, seasonally appropriate diet, maintain good quality sleep and activity levels. I’ll continue to refer to my Fall Rejuvenation manual and the webinars if I need reminders on what to eat and how to manage during the season.
What happens in the mind-body
This is the Rasayana phase when I rejuvenate to nourish and repair weak channels and enhance my immunity.
Beyond the Fall Rejuvenation Program
Individual 30 minute follow-up session
How was my experience? How do I feel? How can I maintain these gains? At the end of the program, my Vaidya will go over my experience and in a half hour session help me set long term plans for sustaining my health goals.
Healing is a lifetime journey, as life is constantly full of fluctuations and potential for imbalances. This is a unique opportunity for me to become self-aware and set an intention for my health and well-being. Not only will I emerge cleansed and rejuvenated, I will also feel empowered at the end of this to continue staying healthier!
I read somewhere that I cannot scrub my inner body, and so I cleanse my tissues, organs and mind through Ayurveda; this really resonates with me! I am excitedly looking forward to my Fall metamorphosis! As individualized, preventative, lifestyle medicine is becoming more and more popular, it is reaffirming to me that this has always been Ayurveda’s forte. I’m reminded of what Dr. John Hagelin, renowned quantum physicist, science and public policy expert, educator, author, and leading proponent of peace said:
Vedic wisdom is bringing a modern renaissance that has already begun. Ancient Ayurvedic Medicine is in fact ultra-modern, cutting-edge unified field based medicine.
What do some of the people who have gone through the Kerala Ayurveda Fall Rejuvenation say?
All the changes do sound really tempting, like turning my life around in 42 days. But can such transformation happen in just roughly six weeks? What do people who have gone through the process say I wonder?
Thank you so much for your expert supervision during the fall cleanse. The manual was very well written. It was fascinating to learn from you the science of each phase, and what we should be expecting. I am truly feeling cleansed and rejuvenated after the program. Your patient and loving support made it a very enjoyable experience. Again, thank you so much! -KALPANA
Not only do you get an individually designed program to help balance your current health complaints, but you are educated via livestream classes. You are also personally guided in a complete and compassionate way by Vaidya. Pillai. Her expertise and caring manner added an element of nurturing that was so special and unforgettable. -NANCY
Fall Rejuvenation was my first experience working under the guidance of an Ayurvedic Doctor from Kerala Ayurveda and Vaidya. Pillai went above and beyond the call of duty. Her instructions, webinars and detailed day-by-day contact through the cleansing period made an unfamiliar process simple to understand. The profound effects of the cleanse and the rejuvenation which followed are still emerging and will no doubt continue to unfold in the coming days and months. The program proposed, while resetting the system and giving it a positive reboot, also affects the mind and helps cultivate awareness and respect for the wisdom of the body. Amidst the business of modern life, fall rejuvenation reminds us to listen to, care for and nurture the activities which allow us to function as productive members of society. -AURA