Well it seems to be that time of year when the mornings cool off and nights begin to shorten signaling that pumpkin spice time of year. I would always dread the end of summer even though here in Houston our summers seemingly NEVER end. I have a tendency to be adverse to the fluctuations that happen seasonally because I get into a routine with my sleep and my food that serves me and then suddenly everything changes. My skin and hair go awry, school starts for those with children and I believe everyone else is feeling this same natural shift towards cooler weather and the onset of the holiday season. This can be a great time to clean house, in meaning that you put away your river hats and swimsuits to replace them with sweaters and boots accompanied by warm chai lattes. Many people love this time of year when they can pumpkin spice-ify everything from our morning coffee to muffins and cakes and yes even pumpkin in our beer. YUCK
Tell me this…If everyone loves pumpkin spice so much then why is it only available for one month out of the year? Well that’s because we should be eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are being grown seasonally in your city or region. I am very lucky to have a lot of organic and local markets with fresh and organic produce close to me and also accessible on any day of the week. Now I love the fact that I can get imported olive oils from Italy and grass fed butter from Ireland and just about any exotic vegetables from the massive Hong Kong Market that we have here in my hometown of Houston. Yet we should not be eating these imported foods, even if they are available any time of the year and not grown in your local area.
Enter the Ayurvedic Cleanse, the wholesome way to detox and do your own internal house cleaning. Ayurveda is the sister science to Yoga which has been around for thousands of years. In Ayurveda what you consume has the miraculous ability to heal, to bring vibrant healthy fresh new energy and nutrition to the parts of you that need it most. Ayurveda uses 3 primary constitutions that we call Dosha’s which are unique to each individual. I myself am predominantly Pitta (fire) by nature who tend towards Kapha (earth) on occasion, and seldom Vata (air) emerged it is in my nature, throughout this cleanse. Autumn is the Vata time of year, when the air becomes cool and dry as winter begins to roll on in. One of the symptoms of Vata that I experienced during this cleanse was cracking joints, which is essentially air in the joints. I was very spacey in my thinking and appreciated some grounding like foot massages and yin yoga.
So my 7 day cleanse consisted of a 3 day pre-cleanse followed by 3 days of full cleansing and another day or so to post cleanse. I truly didn’t think that I would make it past day 2! I have had a fairly clean diet all through the summer and pride myself on eating whole food that I chop/ cook myself. I have been keeping the summer food light with lots of seasonal fruit and raw salads and it wasn’t so much the fact that I had to eat what was outlined for me or the fact that I couldn’t eat meat or drink coffee. I just didn’t think that a cleanse was going to do much for me or I wasn’t ready to understand the spiritual undertaking that I was about to embark on. I didn’t only make it the full 7 days, although I must admit that I did sneak a little dark chocolate on day 2 and 4, but once I got into the nitty gritty of turning down what didn’t serve me I became OK with the process of it. I began to understand what my body really needed and what had been neglected in the past.
The first 2-3 days are the worst from coming off of caffeine, sugar and meat and possibly alcohol. It was a complete mental war within my own brain. I was constantly craving a glass of wine or huge chocolate shake with a double meat bacon cheeseburger (which is rare for me.) It wasn’t like I was hungry but deprived, and what I wanted was so superficial that I repressed the urges and I became more enlightened each time. This was truly a first for me! I enjoyed a fresh mug of tea and would sit and wonder when I was going to break. When was I going to give into the temptations that lurked everywhere, the kolaches and donuts that my office is known for keeping around, the bacon my boyfriend would make for breakfast or when while pumping gas I could sneak in a snickers bar with no witnesses. I didn’t have drinks with my dinner or indulge when on day 4 there was steak accompanied by a luscious South African red wine blend. I had 7 days of this, yet I wasn’t aware of how ready that I was for this endeavor. I simply remembered WHY I was doing this. I also had 9-10 other ladies in this cleanse with me. I had a support system with emails and facebook posts to reassure me that what I was feeling was normal and I wasn’t alone here.
Every meal began with raw ginger slices with lime and a pinch of salt. This was to stimulate the digestive system, in Ayurveda all health comes from the gut. It sounded horrible and smelled awful too but I crunched and chewed and swallowed the “Ginger Pizza” as it was named and I felt the magic working. I began to feel amazing on day 4 and 5. I was bright eyed and clear headed and I felt pure. I didn’t feel depleted anymore, I didn’t feel deprived and I didn’t want any of the things that I had been reaching for. I began to understand why I had wanted to do a cleanse, I realized my true potential.
I have to say that on the full cleanse days of 4-6 I was on a mono diet (breakfast lunch dinner) of Kitchari. Kitchari is a simple mix of yellow mung beans and rice with Indian spices which is known as the “chicken soup” of India. I wasn’t wild about it. Again I reminded myself why I was doing this and then I stuck with it. I must have made it far enough into this yoga stuff that I surpassed the needs and wants of this earthly body, maybe this is some cosmic lesson in Aparigraha (non attachment.) This was a first for me. I usually always love to spoil myself and splurge especially for my daughter. This cleanse gently convinced me that what I had was enough, what I was allowed to eat was enough, that my insatiable appetite for food, possessions, and for life do not serve me. As a Pitta person I generally have a large appetite and passion for life and I love to enjoy the finer things in life like good wine, q rich dark chocolate and a perfectly orchestrated reuben sandwich. On day 6 I taught a beautiful morning class at Lululemon which I am truly thankful for as I believed it helped to seal the deal with my cleanse. I was able to turn away from all these temptations with resilience and I feel empowered by the incredible shift that has happened in my life. My daughter mentioned that I am nicer or maybe calmer and more serene at least at 7am in the morning and that was enough to sell me as I need all the help in the mornings as can be.
I would like to thank the Yoga Collective and my teachers for holding the space for me to transform and grow. I have learned to embrace the changing of the seasons as they were meant to be experienced. Om Shanti my friends.