Why is it important to cleanse?
The term “spring cleaning” applies to our bodies as well our minds in Ayurveda. With the seasonal shift from Winter into Summer, we must prepare our bodies through detoxification in the Springtime. We want to consume a low fat and low protein diet for Spring while following the seasonal harvest.
Through this Springtime diet, we will shed small amounts of excess fat from the Wintertime. If you are experiencing poor digestion, skin irritations, weight gain, cravings and recurring headaches – that may also be a sign that your body needs cleansing. These issues all stem from excess Ama (toxins) that inhabit the fat cells of our body, and it’s time to let them go. We have outlined a few suggestions for a beginners guide for a light spring cleanse in the areas of diet, body and mind.
Keep in mind, Ayurvedic cleanses are much different from western’s culture of juicing and fasting, although those do hold their own benefits. Ayurveda cleanses the body differently and uses food and lifestyle to “sweep out” unwanted Ama.
Broth and Vegetables
In the Springtime we are inclined to eat lighter foods, and bone broth with vegetables is prime for this. You can add vegetables to the broth, eat them on the side or puree them in the soup. It is recommended when choosing vegetables for the broth to choose 1 from the green family (broccoli), 1 from the bitter family (kale), 1 from the root family (potato) and 1 from the cruciferous family (turnips). Keep away from heavy, fried foods with grease and salt during this time.
This is the time to eat more bitter and astringent vegetables. The rough leaves of kale scrape trapped food in the villi of our intestinal lining and are highly fibrous, making it a perfect vegetable for “spring cleaning”. If you’re not a huge fan of kale or greens, other bitter foods you can integrate into your diet are walnuts, brussel sprouts, celery and fenugreek seeds. Bitter foods are excellent at balancing Pitta and Kapha doshas. Be sure to set your Agni (digestive fire) up for success by adding spices when you cook greens! Vegetables to be eaten less during Springtime include avocados, squash, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers and eggplant.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt baths make you sweat and activate fluid movement in the tissues, creating a relaxing and circulatory experience. The sulphuric content of the salt makes it perfect for detoxification. It is recommended to start with 1/2 cup of epsom salt in the bath, and then slowly increase up to 5 cups. You can also add some powdered ginger to help the body with perspiration, healing and cleansing. If you do have a Pitta imbalance, then ginger is not recommended because it is already too heating. Soak in the bath for at least 15-20 minutes, with no technology and focus on intentionally relaxing and imagining the Ama (toxins) leaving your body. Be sure to moisturize with oil afterwards.
This is a prime time for moving the body if you haven’t been this year. Twisting poses are excellent for Spring yoga. Imagine squeezing out the toxins with each twist, and hold the positions longer than usual. Take deep and long breaths, consciously oxygenating all the cells in your body. Take a walk once a day, with no technology and immerse and appreciate yourself in nature. It is better to do a small amount of consistent exercise each day, rather than once or twice a week for an extended time.
You can eat vegetables all day, and still not be fully cleansed. It is important to cultivate a healthier and more efficient mental digestion process during this time of cleansing. Before we begin to clean the internal, the external must be cleansed first. This is the time when the traditional version of “spring cleaning” goes into play. Cleaning out clothes in the closet, old contacts in your phone and unhealthy foods in the cupboards is part of creating a calm and neat space to begin your internal work. Make time to be intentionally grateful for your life, and let the loved ones in your life know they are appreciated (including yourself). Notice the trajectory of your internal dialogue when stress occurs.
This is a time where you are releasing negativity, which may cause uncomfortable feelings to come up. It is important to acknowledge those challenging feelings, and apologize to yourself for the times you did not act from a place of love. This will open up the mind for mental digestion, so that pain can be distilled into wisdom. Forgiveness, transformation and self love are themes for spring cleansing.