In Ayurveda, we are one with nature and follow her seasonal changes.
Rtkurchya means season.
This time of year, we change the lightweight curtains for heavy drapes. We remove the flowered slipcovers to reveal the rich red velvet sofa. purple tank tops, short sleeve white tee shirts, and long, flowy wide-legged pants are packed away, and cranberry and holly sweaters, purple sweats, and mittens get unpacked.
I occasionally but rarely hear detox for an ayurvedic cleanse, but cleanse is the preferred term. I think of detox as a radical purge of unhealthy lifestyle choices—smoking cigarettes, vaping, use of daily pain and anxiety meds, excessive alcohol, and sitting all day in a cushy recliner. A cleanse is gentle, like the example of changing the house of its summer curtains and slipcovers to heavy drapes. Taking out the window fans and replacing screens with storm glass.
Some ayurvedic followers keep a clean diet all year, but I think most of us like a cup or two of coffee in the morning. That is eight to sixteen ounces, not a venti, extra hot, no foam four shots of espresso latte. Perhaps one to two six-ounce glasses of white wine in the evening. I get a salt craving every few months, and half of a dark pretzel bag is needed. That is why a fall and spring cleanse is handy. Consider it a light purge.
So, if we change our homes, why not change what we eat? Exchange the breakfast melons for warm stewed apples and dates with ghee, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Oatmeal is heartier now than buckwheat. Kichari is year-round, but the veggies change to sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. Apples of all varieties replace watermelon.
Drinks are always warm, but lemon substitutes lime to add warmth. And then, there is that three-to-ten-day fall cleanse or a cleanse on steroids called panchakarma. I will thoroughly relay the panchakarma in mid-October as I am going to do a 21-day home practice led by my two ayurvedic physicians starting in a couple of weeks.
Twice a year, cleanses during the equinoxes run three to two days and can be alone or group driven. I started with 10-day, instructor-led group cleanses with Kate O’Donnell who runs The Ayurvedic Institute, an online training platform.
In an ayurvedic cleanse, you keep your daily routines, but remove any caffeine, alcohol, soy, wheat. dairy except for ghee, meat, fish, and shellfish. You will have kunji for breakfast (a soupy porridge) and kichari, soup style, for lunch and dinner.
Exercise slows down, really down. Slow vinyasa is okay the first two days, followed by restorative yoga, and then yoga nidra. Nidra means sleep in Sanskrit, but one does not sleep but rather takes a guided meditation for 60 to 90 minutes.
Why cleanse? To maintain good quality health and be in a calm, balanced sattvic state. Remember, taking care of ourselves allows us to be available to take care of others. Do it for you, do it for your family, and do it for your loved ones.