I’ve dabbled in Ayurveda off and on for over a decade. I first learned about this ancient practice during my 200 hour yoga teacher training program, and have been both fascinated, and intimidated by, Ayurveda ever since.
I’m fascinated by Ayurveda because it all makes so much sense, and it has stood the test of time. Ayurveda has been around for thousands of years, and is the most widely practiced form of medicine in India. It stresses medical diagnosis through the use of the five senses, use of food as medicine, proper hygiene (internal and external), and eating seasonal foods that support our personal body constitution.
Even though I know it works, I find Ayurveda intimidating at times, because it’s so incredibly different from modern American practices and attitudes. It forces me out of my comfort zone.
It’s also not the kind of thing that you can just read a book and understand…Ayurveda is experiential. It requires patience, intention, and a lot of practice to assimilate it into our lives.
This is why I really wanted to participate in the Spring Cleanse with Meredith Klein, that I shared with you last week. It is founded in Ayurveda, and I knew it would deepen my understanding of the practice. Meditation and yoga are also highly recommended during the cleanse, and you know I’m all about that!
It hasn’t been easy, but as of right now, on day 3 of the cleanse, I feel great, and extremely grateful for what I have learned so far:
1) I am really attached to food, but not in the way that most people are attached to food. I rarely use food for comfort. Instead, I think of food as a drug, and use it to give me energy, alter my mood, and relieve pain. Not being able to eat some of the crazy healthy foods I normally use medicinally, such as bananas an chocolate, has been hard. I am also attached to eating small meals every 3 hours or so. Trying to eat less frequently on this cleanse brings up all kinds of stuff for me. Which is awesome, because awareness of my attachments always breeds progress.
2) I get hungry less often when I eat Indian comfort food, known as kitchari (pictured above). The word kitchari means mixture, and usually refers to mung beans, basmati rice, spices, and veggies. I now know that mung beans, which taste a lot like lentils, are highly detoxifying. Who knew?
3) I can make green juice from leafy greens and water in my blender. No juicer needed. Simply strain the juice with a cheese cloth or jelly bag. And just for the record, adding a green apple, lemon and ginger makes green juice more palatable.
4) Tumeric, cumin, and black mustard seeds taste awesome with cilantro, coconut and lime. I have, for a long time, been afraid to mix too many flavors in with my veggies. Most of what I cook is very basic, with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, cinnamon, honey and/or lemon as flavoring. Now, thanks to this cleanse (and being forced outside my comfort zone), I have a few more spices in my repertoire.
5) Aloe juice is good for reducing inflammation, and enhancing digestion, especially if you add tumeric and black pepper (Meredith calls it “aloe shots”). It also has a fairly pleasant taste on it’s own. Again, who knew?
5) Kombu seaweed adds a lot of nutrients (iodine is the most important!), but very little taste to kitchari.
6) Kitchari can be made in advance, and enjoyed for several days, with a different sauce and veggies every day…which makes my busy life a lot easier.
7) A salt water flush works a lot like an enema. You drink four cups of salted water first thing in the morning, and stay by the bathroom for a long while. Drinking that much salt water makes me want to gag, but I’m sure I’ll feel better later for it.
8) I can make digestive tea from cumin, fennel, and coriander. It’s not my favorite tea, but I have to admit it is comforting.
9) I can give up anything for a week, even coffee.
10) The more I learn about ayurveda, the more I question why I don’t eat this way all the time. I have to avoid some of the suggested ayurvedic foods, due to my allergies, such as dairy and wheat, but I do believe an ayurvedic diet might be the best choice for my constitution.
There’s still time to participate in the FREE Spring Cleanse with Meredith Klein of Pranaful. Just register on her site, print the materials, and start it on a day that works best for you. And, as always, let me know if you have questions, or need encouragement.
Also, please follow me on Facebook at Come On, Get Healthy, if you want to see what I have been eating this week!