Springtime is often associated with a sense of renewal. As the daylight hours stretch out longer, the temperatures become warmer, and blossoms begin to emerge, you may feel tempted to Cleanse and Reset to welcome renewal for yourself. Ayurveda presents gentle and proven methods for cleansing and resetting the entire system. A spring cleanse can be a lovely and effective way to give your body and mind a little extra care in preparation for the warmer months.
The ancient Indian system, known as Ayurveda, teaches that seasonal transitions are the perfect time to cleanse, given that your body is already in a “transitional mode” during those months. Early spring and early autumn are traditionally viewed as ideal times for purification practices to keep the body healthy and strong.
As the season shifts from winter to spring, it is time to shed and release some of the excesses accumulated during winter, an optimal time for a spring cleanse.
A traditional Ayurvedic cleanse consists mainly of kitchari (recipe below) and you may also like to slide in bitter and astringent veggies, especially the cruciferous kind, such as broccoli, and cauliflower, along with dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard, collards, mustard greens, you name it!
Made primarily of rice and mung dal, kitchari contains a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein sources, making it a complete meal. In addition, it is extremely easy for your body to digest. The better the digestive process, the more resources are available for effective cleansing and renewal. Moreover, split yellow mung dal is rather astringent, and its astringent and fibrous nature has a gentle scraping effect on the intestines.
In addition, a spring cleanse recommends you take a break from alcohol, caffeine, and any other drug or stimulant, with the exception of necessary prescriptions.
Benefits of a Spring Cleanse
An Ayurvedic spring cleanse consists primarily of eating a simple diet of kitchari—a savory porridge made of rice, mung dal, spices, and sometimes vegetables and ghee. The effects of a cleanse can be quite profound. Within a few days to a week of cleansing, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
- More balanced digestion
- A reduction in food cravings
- An overall lighter sense of being
- Improved skin clarity
- Improved sleep quality
- Less coating on your tongue
- A clearer mental state
Needless to say, not all of these benefits occur for every individual each time, but they are typical results of a spring cleanse. Furthermore, on a subtle level, a cleanse can be a great opportunity to simplify and prioritize all aspects of your life. As you will be cooking, and eating, roughly the same foods daily, you can devote less energy and time to meal preparation and planning.
Further, although you can still work and perform your daily duties, it is generally advised that you do your best to reduce stress and keep a more simplistic schedule during a cleanse. For this reason, this practice is also an act of self-care and of turning inward.
Ayurveda Kitchari Cleanse Recipe
Kitchari means “mixture”, usually combining two grains. Following is one kitchari recipe that is exceptionally nourishing and easy to digest. Please note the options below for some alternatives and more about this ancient dish.
- Include vegetables such as zucchini, asparagus, and sweet potato.
- For Vata or Kapha conditions: add a pinch of ginger powder.
- For Pitta: leave out the mustard seeds.
Kitchari Recipe (Yield: 4-6 servings)
*Adapted from the Ayurvedic Institute. This Tridoshic recipe (appropriate for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha types) is a great place to begin! You may add seasonal vegetables or omit them and optionally serve them steamed as a side dish.
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 cup split yellow mung beans
- 3 TBSP ghee (or coconut oil)
- 6 cups water
- 1/2-1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and diced
- 1/2 tsp coriander seed powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin seed powder
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 pinch asafoetida/hing resin powder (optional)
- 1 cup seasonal vegetables, chopped (optional)
- Rinse the rice and mung dal.
- Heat the ghee in a medium to large-sized pot. Add the rice, mustard seeds, ginger, and mung dal. Stir on medium heat for a couple of minutes, being careful not to burn the dal or rice grains.
- Add the water and bring the heat to high. Add all other spices except for the cilantro leaves.
- Once the mixture begins to boil, turn to a simmer, partially lidded.
- Prepare the veggies by chopping them into bite-sized pieces. A good selection of vegetables for spring cleanses includes spinach, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, dandelion greens, cauliflower, and leeks.
- Cook the rice and dal mixture until soft, approx. 20 min.
- Add vegetables and cook for an additional 5-10 min, or until vegetables soften.
- Add salt to taste. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime.
Additional Notes & Guidelines
- Remember to drink plenty of warm water and lemon water, and if you have a tendency to get cold, opt for warm spicy teas like ginger and cinnamon. Cumin, coriander, and fennel tea are also good choices as they contain a slightly more cooling effect. It is ok to add a little natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup to your tea or lemon water.
- Again, you’ll want to keep your schedule light. Don’t overload on tasks, stick to the minimum. Take the necessary time to rest. Unplug at night and try to turn off your phone and disconnect from the internet and your computer for at least a couple of hours before bedtime.
- If you feel any weakness, fatigue, or increased hungry, a snack of sunflower seeds, green juice, or vegetable broth between meals is a good option. Otherwise, you can substitute your morning kitchari for simple oatmeal at breakfast. Nevertheless, avoid dairy and refined sugar.
- Once you have completed your cleanse, consider maintaining Ayurvedic daily self-care practices, also called dinacharya. You don’t need to practice them all, but try integrating one or two into your routine.
- Finally, you’ll also want to take care when transitioning out of the cleanse; do so gradually in order to allow for greater ease and more lasting results. A good idea is to start to reintroduce just one or two new foods per day into your diet. For example, add yogurt one day, whole-grain bread the next, then eggs, and so on. Your body has become accustomed to digesting very simple food, so it’s best not to overwhelm your agni 9digestive fire)
What happens when we take too long to offload toxins from our bodies?
- Our physical body feels heavy.
- Our lymphatic system becomes sluggish and retains water and toxins that create cellulite but also fertile ground for disease.
- Our metabolism slows down and we gain weight.
- Our energy levels drop and we feel fatigued.
- Our sleep quality decreases and we become unbalanced and tired.
- Our eyes get dark circles and puffiness & redness.
- Our endocrine system slows down creating a hormonal imbalance.
- Our emotions become unbalanced as a result.
- Our mind becomes dull and foggy and anxiety & self-doubt creep in. We lack clarity & willpower.
Does any of these feel familiar?
As a result of all these side effects, we become completely out of balance which impacts all areas of our lives, including self-confidence, relationships, work, productivity, inspiration, creativity, and sensuality among other things.
Gathering toxins is a natural consequence of living and this is the reason why, if you want to feel vibrant, Yoga & Ayurveda insist on doing a Cleanse & Reset every change of season.
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