Chances are you over did it during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve at which time you resolved to eat better, exercise more, get your finances in order, volunteer, and save the world. All of which are amazing, and I wish you all the will power in the world to sustain you on your journey. But, let’s start with something digestible (pun intended).
I’m not a fan of starvation cleanses or all-or-nothing detox regimens, and I don’t believe that every ‘cleanse’ or ‘diet’ is one size fits all. If you follow an Ayurvedic system, and you’re a Vata like me, you know that a fasting cleanse/detox is not for you. Particularly juice cleanses. Now, I love fresh juice more than anyone, but what I’ve learned both intuitively and through study is that regular raw juice disrupts my system with some nasty side effects.
There can, in fact, be too much of even a ‘GOOD’ thing. Every food has the ability to be medicine or poison to the person ingesting it. There are literally dozens of cleanses out there, but I’m going to stick with a basic clean Indian dish integrated into a diet of whole, clean food.
Kitchari also spelled a grillion different ways is a staple in the Panchakarma diet. It’s the ‘chicken noodle soup’ comfort food of India. Panchakarma means five actions, and it’s a cleansing and rejuvenating program for the body, mind and consciousness. It is known for its beneficial effects on overall health, wellness and self-healing. It’s a way of reversing the effects of daily living. Kitchari is balancing to all doshas (Kapha, Pitta and Vata), and it’s one of the most balanced and detoxifying foods.
Kitchari is a complete protein and incredibly easy to digest. The main ingredients are rice and mung beans or lentils and the spices are measured precisely to cleanse and balance the system without being overwhelming. You may choose to add seasonal vegetables, but a bland Kitchari may be where you want to start if you’re looking to reset your digestive system.
My friend Amita (with whom I went through yoga teacher training) provided this recipe. It’s fulfilling, delicious, and I can tell you first hand my body feels so much better after this dietary reboot.
Note: If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use a deep pot and boil until the water is absorbed and the flavors have merged.
Enjoy and may your body thank you.
Special thanks to my friend, Amita for the recipe. ❤
– Your Charmed Yogi
Ayurveda is ancient Indian science and philosophy that focuses on the vital health of the whole individual, including the physical, energetic, psychological and spiritual. Living a balanced Ayurvedic life includes taking care of the physical body with yoga, meditation, healthful eating for your Dosha, and a hygiene ritual called Dinacharya.
One of the more traditional components of the morning ritual is tongue scraping. Your mouth in general, and particularly your tongue can reveal a lot about your health, specifically your digestive system. So, treating the tongue as a specific area of the body of hygiene focus is important. In addition to removing bacteria, scraping your tongue stimulates your digestive fire and enzymes.
Kick off the not-so-new-year with this morning Dinacharya that’s believed to promote health and prevent disease. You may have to adjust your schedule to allow yourself the time to get up and accommodate a new routine, but see what it does for your physical and mental health.
1. Wake up – Be aware of your body, focus your awareness on positive things. You may even choose to say a prayer and express gratitude. By the way, the optimal times to wake up based on your Dosha are: KAPHA 3:00 – 4:30 am; PITTA 4:00 – 5:30 am; VATA 5:00 – 6:30 am.
2. Nature calls – Go to the restroom as needed.
3. Wash the face – Wash face, mouth, and eyes – be sure to wake up your eyes with some simple eye exercises.
4. Brush your teeth & scrape your tongue – Scrape the tongue with a tongue scraper from base to tip. You’ll be amazed at the funk you’ll get off of your tongue. Some practitioners gargle with sesame oil, and rinse their mouth with a Triphala powder mixture as well. But, there’s only so much time in the morning…
5. Drink water – Drink a glass of room temperature water on an empty stomach.
6. Self-massage – Abhyanga is a self-oil massage that stimulates the lymphatic and circulatory system. Traditionally sesame oil is used. Start with your feet and work your way up to your scalp.
7. Clean out your nasal passages – Using a neti pot with a distilled water, saline & bicarbonate mixture flushes out bacteria harboring mucus that accumulated in the night. Once you’ve cleaned out your nose, you can place a couple of drops of sesame oil just inside the tip of your noise to moisturize your nasal passages. (I use a mixture of sesame oil, lavender and eucalyptus).
15. Breakfast – Eat according to your dosha. Here’s a great article from Body + Soul Australia on eating for your dosha.
It may seem like a daunting routine, but it’s really not once you get into the habit and you’d be surprised at how much better you feel. Try it out, and see for yourself.
– Your Charmed Yogi
Ayurveda is a Hindu system of traditional medicine (in the U.S., Ayurveda is considered alternative medicine) that began in India during the Vedic period (between 1700 and 1100 BCE). Ayurveda is the science of life and art of healing as a lifetime practice of wellness and healthy living. Adopting the physics of the elements and belief that all beings are connected, Ayurveda is about balance inside and out. There’s a lot to Ayurveda, so this is by no means comprehensive, but an intro into the most common practices.
One of the most familiar and widely used concepts in living a balanced life according to Ayurveda is that of the Doshas or the three elemental energies. It’s believed that our Prakruti or constitution is made of up a balance of these energies. Our Prakruti or Prakriti is determined at the moment of conception and relates to our genetically inherited physical and emotional qualities. Ayurveda stresses a balance of these energies or ‘humors’ Vāyu / vāta (air & space – “wind”), pitta (fire & water – “bile”) andkapha (water & earth – “phlegm”). If it helps, think of them like hormones (except their not) in that when there’s an imbalance you feel off, and that imbalance can manifest itself in any number of ways from mental to physical, and even karmic.
We’re made up of this mix of energies that can change throughout our lives; it can even change with the seasons. Tapping into centuries old medicine to learn about your individual Prakruti and what dietary/lifestyle changes you can make to balance your dominating qualities might be just the change you’re looking for. Prakruti specifically relates to those qualities, characteristics and tendencies that are stable. For instance, while you may experience temporary changes, like gaining or losing ten pounds, feeling nervous or irritable, developing a cold or flu, etc., in the natural course of life you will never gain or lose five inches on your height or experience a change of eye color. Prakriti is enlivened and described by three main doshas or forces: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Personally, I believe in integrative medicine that brings together philosophies and practices from the east and the west. I love seeing what the body can do to heal itself, and how the foods we eat and things we do impact our health. But, I’m also eternally grateful for Western medicine and how it’s saved my life.
I’ll dive more into the various Doshas and where to take your personal practice during Vata season, so take the Dosha Quiz on the Chopra Institute Website to learn more about your energetic makeup. For in depth information or to study Ayurveda, visit the Ayurveda Institute’s website.
– Your Charmed Yogi
Related Posts: Life is like a box of Chakras
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