Ayurvedic cleanse

Spring is one of my favourite times of the year. As much I try to embrace the different aspects of Winter, the lengthening of the days and the the blossoming of the trees makes me all warm inside.

This change in seasons is a great time for a cleanse, allowing a pre Summer revitalisation.

I must admit that until recent times I thought of ‘cleanse’ as a dirty word. I pictured myself living off lettuce leaves, hungry and bitter. Luckily, I have come to learn that it doesn’t have to be that way.

As a matter of fact, I recently completed an Ayurvedic cleanse which left me with a happy gut and a more optimistic image about so called cleanses.

Being a yogi, I decided to follow my yoga teacher’s group cleanse: an Ayurvedic cleanse with a monodiet of Kitchari (recipe of my adapted version coming soon).

Ayurveda as defined by the Deepak Chopra, M.D. : ‘continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.’

The cleanse is therefore much more than a change in dietary habits. It also encourages you to change your daily routine to integrate meditation, drinking of abundant warm fluids (freshly made caffeine free teas), light exercise and enough sleep. It’s simple but effective.

Here is a little recount of my experience:

Pre cleanse
The instructions are thorough, the list is long, I can’t be asked…
Oh no! I catch myself thinking that, and realise that it is not the right attitude. I dig deep and find some motivation to change my outlook.
As I start to read attentively I feel excitement rising in me, I love little health projects. I realise that I wasn’t demotivated by the cleanse itself, but rather by the ‘admin’ around it. I had to go to 2 health shops to find ALL the items on the list, including (Gotu / Kola drops, Triphala capsules and mung beans).

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Day 1
I normally wake up early to meditate and practice yoga (60mins) so waking up early is no biggie, however being limited to 20mins of light yoga is a bit challenging for me, but the meditation keeps me zen. I enjoy starting my day with a warm lemon water rather than a cold glass of water.

Day 1 Breakfast:
Breakfast is to be had between 7 and 8am, so I have my Kitchari before leaving the house. One of my housemates walks in, I feel almost apologetic about the potent curry smell.
I enjoy savoury breakfasts so this is right up my street. Unfortunately the fact that snacking is discouraged means that I panic and overeat by fear of going hungry.

Day 1 Lunch:
By lunch time I am pleased to notice that I am not starving.
I have lunch with a few colleagues. I take my Tupperware to the canteen and my friends are curious and enthusiastic about my cleanse. I had contemplated postponing the lunch because of my cleanse, seems silly now…

Day 1 Dinner:
5pm, I eat ‘Al Desko’ without distractions, so I stare at my food. Was it this vibrant during lunch? I haven’t eaten since 1pm when I finished my lunch, an achievement for me. I’m a serial snacker, crunching on a carrot or an apple every two hours. Some nutritionists recommend snacking, others don’t, but right now I feel like my stomach is grateful for the break.
Half way through my dinner I wonder if I could do the cleanse for 4 days, I’m loving this food! I smile to myself recollecting my enthusiasm during my cleanse last year (which only consisted of fruit and veg). I had also thought I could do it a whole week on the 1st day, yet I rushed back to ‘normal food’ at the end of the 3 days. But that was different, a fruit and veg based diet can leave you feeling a bit deprived, no matter how many apples you eat. The rice and beans of the kitchari make this a much more wholesome experience. I feel satisfied after every meal.
Although I must admit I am now thinking that tomorrow morning is a looong time away.

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Day 1 Evening:
I come back from teaching, I’m feeling good. I come into the kitchen to see ‘what’s up’, as every time I come into my flat. I have 1 ripe pear. It’s looking at me with tempting plumpness. I decide to eat it with the excuse that I had a very early dinner and I did not snack at all throughout the day. I savour it and enjoy every bite.
I cook my Kitchari for the next day, I’ve got the hang of it now. I meditate 20 minutes while it simmers. As I come into the kitchen to turn it off I resist the temptation to try it, which I pat myself on the back for. I thank my meditation for this atypical will power in the kitchen.
I’m a healthy eater but my portion control is pretty much non-existent. I always eat what’s on my plate and I don’t tend to measure what I eat. I am also guilty of trying/devouring food as I cook it, which means I often end up eating a portion and a half.

Overall, I am amazed by how much more concentrated I feel. For some people strict rules make the temptation harder to resist . My stubbornness means I feel free of my cravings as I know I wouldn’t give in no matter what. In fact, what cravings?!

Day 2
I’m teaching at 6.30am so I have to wake up at 5.30 in order to be able to meditate 20minutes and drink my lemon and ginger water before heading out. I haven’t had the recommended 8 hours but I feel refreshed. I catch myself half teaching an imaginary class during my meditation and smile at myself – back to the breath.

Day 2 Breakfast:
I didn’t have time to eat at home so I’m off with my bag full of Tupperware.
I arrive at work and quite a few people are around as I microwave my curry breakfast. A few people ask what I’m up to and I shyly explain that I’m doing an Ayurvedic cleanse. I feel the need to explain that it’s not to lose weight but rather to balance my Dosha and relight my Agni but then I realise it’s not really morning kitchen conversation material. As ever, people are curious and understanding. My assumption that I will be met with disapproval is unfounded.
I sit down and truly enjoy my breakfast at my desk, with my screen off. This cleansing business is time consuming. I understand why it is advised to do this cleanse during time off.

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Day 2 Lunch:
I go for a mindful walk and come back hungry and excited for my lunch.
I love variety in my food, and I do cook different dishes all the time, rarely eating the same thing twice in a month! Yet this monotony seems to suit me quite well too. A colleague mentions that scientists working on projects tend to wear plain clothes and eat the same plain food daily in order to focus all their attention on what needs it most. Makes me wonder if this is helping my meditation. Now that I think of it, my mind often drifts off to food when I meditate, whereas at the moment I don’t think it has, not much to be thought about I guess.

Although I enjoy the flavours, I find it hard not to distract myself while I eat. I’m quite a slow eater and spend almost 30 minutes at my desk, avoiding to look at my screen or my phone, not even a book. I end up rushing my mindful eating. I’m full and satisfied and don’t crave anything additional but I think I’ve overeaten Again…

Day 2 Dinner:
Same as Day 1 – 5pm ‘Al Desko’ without distractions.

Post dinner:
I walk into the kitchen to get everything ready to make my Kitchari in the morning. In the cupboard I see the jar of peanut butter, my nemesis. The guideline says avoid eating after 7pm (It’s currently 9.30pm…) but it also says that if you must really snack, you can have some raw nuts. I open the jar, get a spoon, take a moment to think about it, put the spoon down and close the jar! Melissa 1 – PB – 1 (for all the other times when my will power is nowhere to be seen) This feels like a little victory.

Day 3
Early rise, meditation, mini yoga practice, I’m starting to really miss my more vigorous practice and can’t wait to move more.

Day 3 Breakfast:
I am happy eating it but I have to do it during my coaching call 7-9am so I can’t do it very mindfully. I eat a large portion but I seem to get hungry earlier than on previous days.

Day 3 Lunch:
I’m working from home so I have access to more food and I unsurprisingly help myself to a 2nd serving. Not too sure whether it is out of hunger or out of availability.
I try to eat mindfully but I am working at the same time, so not too mindful after all.
4pm and I can’t stop thinking about a ripe avocado that’s in the kitchen. I give in and enjoy my avocado covered in sesame seeds, lemon and salt. I wonder if I’m hungry, but don’t care too much as it tastes so good. I remember how much I loved non Kitchari food and can’t wait for tomorrow when I’m not cleansing. I laugh at myself for my enthusiasm on the 1st day.

1st meal post cleanse is exciting. I have porridge with cinnamon, an apple and cranberries. It tastes SO good I could cry!

Reflections:
Slowing things down is a powerful tool to become more present. I am guilty of eating my lunch at my desk mindlessly and forcing myself not to do this was a real eye opener. I enjoyed my food more and felt satisfied for longer.
The monodiet of Kitchari is a great way to reignite the Agni, I’ll spare you the details but my gut feels clean and well rested. The monodiet also enabled me to really appreciate all other tastes as I started to reintroduce different foods into my diet.
Preparing fresh teas in a teapot, with fresh mint, fresh ginger, fennel seeds and even mustard and coriander seeds was a new experience that I enjoyed and intend to continue.

Not sure what a balanced Dosha should feel like but I feel good. I’m still not consuming cold beverages. I visualise my agni as a burning fire in my digestive system and feel like drinking cold water would be like throwing an ice bucket over a fire.

If you have any questions about the instructions for this cleanse please contact me.

Thank you for reading 
Love and light to all,
Melissa

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