Way before the Master Cleanse and Cabbage soup detox diet, the ancients realized that getting rid of stuff we don't need was essential to healing and healthy living. The Ayurvedic tradition of panchakarma (a super combo of five cleansing therapies often administered over the course of a year) is more than 5,000 years old and packs a serious wallop on body, mind and spirit toxicity.
And while it's necessary to have panchakarma therapies administered by a trained professional, variations of the Ayurvedic approach to cleansing are safe and highly effective even when done by yourself at home.
So if you're weighing your detoxing options and wondering what Ayurveda might have to throw into the ring, here's a breakdown of what makes Ayurvedic cleansing different… and powerful!
It's Holistic, Yo!
Ayurevda believes that you're more than just a body. Underneath those bones, muscles and skin lives an active mind and a dynamic spirit. When you consider that plus the environment you live in (home and work spaces), you get a sense of the full potential for unloading unnecessary things: thoughts, emotions, grudges, self-limiting beliefs, and so many other things you don't need or use, clothes and books, tchotchkes and other household detritus. Freeing up your physical, mental and emotional spaces gives you room to move around…and create something awesome!
What Makes It Powerful: It covers all the bases and provides a foundation for real and healthy changes. Detoxing the physical body only, is like washing your car but never changing the oil (nor vacuuming out the smashed goldfish crackers between the seats).
You Get To Touch Yourself
No, I don't mean in that way! See, part of the reason we feel toxic and heavy is because toxins lodge themselves deep within the body-mind. The process of shaking them loose involves a little work, and massage is the Ayurvedic answer for loosening the gunk that weighs you down. The side benefit of massage is that it makes you feel loved and cared for, so it switches on the happiness and calm that cleansing exists to create. Most Ayurvedic cleanses include daily self-massage which is a great practice to continue…forever!
What Makes It Powerful: Detoxing is supposed to be about self love and care and yet most of the time it feels like torture. Ayurvedic cleansing is about not only removing the stuff we don't need, but replacing it with stuff we do need. And the deeper it goes, the more profound the benefits.
One Word: LUBRICATION
The Sanskrit word for oiling (snehana) can be translated to mean loving your own body. That alone is reason enough to do it, but it goes deeper. Oiling inside and out is an integral part of the Ayurvedic process for cleansing. According to Dr. John Doulliard of LifeSpa, taking ghee or oil by mouth adds good oils to the digestive system and boosts the body's fat burning function. Oil applied to the skin loosens and absorbs fat soluble toxins (dioxin, preservatives, pollutants, pesticides) and emotions (repressed anger, jealousy, grief, etc.), carrying them to the digestive tract for elimination (the ultimate let go).
What Makes It Powerful: Who doesn't love ghee! Well more than that, this particular step really sets the ayurvedic way apart. It's a process that is being scientifically proven to do exactly what detoxing is supposed to do with the added benefit of throwing a little rejuvenation action into the mix (oil lubricates the organs, joints, muscles and skin that dry out as we age).
No Starve Zone
In the world of Ayurveda, digestion is king. So it's no surprise that a big focus of the cleansing process is regulating digestion. Our disconnection with the physical sensation of hunger means that most of us are walking around with overburdened digestive systems, which, in the Ayurvedic view, is planting the seeds for disease (don't mean to scare you but.. yeah I do mean to scare you a little; pay attention to your digestion!).
Cleansing is about bringing the system back into balance, so what you eat (or don't eat) while cleansing is pretty important. Kitchari (a combination of rice and moong dhal) is a traditional Ayurvedic cleansing food. Nearly every Ayurvedic cleanse will include it (some exclusively). It's light and simple enough to give your digestive system the break it needs, but heavy enough to be satisfying for the body (and mind! – consider your mental state when on a juice fast and you'll totally get why this is gold!).
What Makes It Powerful: It focuses on two key aspects of your health and well being: your digestive function and the way your mind works. And that mind part really is key. Think about it, how many people avoid detoxing altogether because they're worried that they'll starve? I'll answer that… LOTS!
Kitchari is a yummy, nourishing and satisfying way to cleanse. And it's another way of loving your whole self (mind, body, spirit) that might keep you cleansing for the long run!