AN AYURVEDIC SPRING: CLEANSING THROUGH NATURE'S "NEW YEAR"
To everything there is a season. Nature’s rhythm provides us with the perfect opportunity to cleanse and restore as Winter thaws into the vibrant colors, scents and sounds of Spring. At this seasonal cusp, a sense of rebirth permeates the air and our body wisdom intuits this time as a natural reset button – the ripe moment to detoxify and re-establish balance.
The approach to purification can be simple or very complex. The process will be different for everyone and based on individual constitution, symptoms and health goals. For a personalized cleansing regimen that is tailored just for you, it is best to have an Ayurvedic Consultation (click here for details.) Here are some general tips for Spring Cleaning from the inside out:
Eat what nature seasonally provides.
The natural world offers gifts at just the right time. In Spring, dandelion greens explode onto the scene and serve as a wonderful detoxifier. This healthy addition to salads and stir-fries contains the bitter taste, which supports our primary detox organ – the liver. Sprouts are packed with prana and chlorophyll and are also helpful this time of year. Eat lots of Spring greens, like chard, bok choy, all lettuces and spinach for powerful nutrition and cellular respiration.
Keep your Agni (digestive fire) strong.
Our digestive fire is akin to our inner sun. We need it to digest, absorb and assimilate all that we ingest, including foods, thoughts, emotions and experiences. A simple way to kindle agni is by adding ginger, cayenne and black pepper to meals and sipping ginger tea throughout the day. As the intake of raw leafy greens increases, it's important to balance the cold quality with warming agents.
Avoid Ama (toxin/mucus) producing foods.
As we move away from the cool, dense, liquid and heavy qualities of Winter, we want to lighten-up by avoiding those qualities in our foods. It is helpful to stay away from mucus forming dairy (with the exception of goat yogurt or kefir which are great to refurbish the microbiome in the large intestine). It’s also wise to steer clear of heavy, oily dishes and the obvious toxin-forming refined or processed foods like heavy desserts and sugar-laden snacks. The best practice is to eat whole foods that are unprocessed and organic.
Invite more Ama-reducing spices into your life.
Ginger, cayenne, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel and cinnamon ease digestion and support the flushing of toxins. Add them to your favorite recipes to amplify purification and rejuvenation.
Cleanse the colon.
In order to properly detoxify we need to have clear channels of elimination. A clean colon is mandatory for any purifying regimen as we need to excrete the toxins that are dislodging - not reabsorb them. Ayurveda’s signature remedy for this is Triphala. Triphala is the powder of three berries (Amalaki, Bibitaki and Haritaki) that synergistically combine to make a subtle yet powerful colon cleanser. It has been used for centuries as a tea to keep the system “regular” and make sure the bowels move daily.
Cleanse the liver.
The liver performs hundreds of functions throughout the day and is particularly called upon during a Spring cleanse. Enjoy fresh lemon water in the morning to jump-start the prana in the liver. Create bitter root infusions with Burdock or Dandelion to naturally support the liver’s role as the great purifier (add nettles for a healthy dose of chlorophyll). Support and nourish the liver with Milk Thistle, a stellar liver herb that is effective in reversing the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, pesticides, heavy metals, and even pollution.
Flush your lymph.
An enjoyable and effective way to activate lymphatic movement is by dry-brushing just before showering. Be sure to use a natural bristled brush and direct all strokes toward the heart. Dynamic moving practices such as vinyasa yoga, fiery breathing techniques like kapalabhati and the cleansing power of shaking qi gong are also helpful movers of lymph.
Stay cool: ease up on those “hot emotions”.
Anger, impatience, irritability and frustration tend to aggravate (and collect in) the liver. Notice reactions and pause, take a breath before getting heated and meditate to stay centered, calm, cool and collected.
Ayurveda defines health as having clear channels of elimination, a healthy digestive fire (agni) and balance in body, mind and consciousness. Following some or all of these suggestions will certainly pave the way to a healthy Spring and radiant Summer.