Ayurveda Self Care: A Spring Cleanse For Rejuvenation + Recipe
Cover Photo By Debby Hudson
By Yvette Racines McLaughlin
Please note: Below are my suggestions and may not be suitable for everybody. Please use this information with discretion based on your health and advice from your healthcare provider.
Spring is about new starts, rejuvenation and cleaning. We plant our gardens, start a new exercise routine and give our homes a good deep cleaning. The hibernation is over and it’s time to clear away all of the accumulation of Winter. I look forward to this time of year to do deep cleaning at home, throw out things that have been sitting around, and best of all, Spring is the ideal time time for an Ayurvedic cleanse!
It makes sense, right? We need to clean out and refresh our inner and outer dwellings. Lighten up! Let me back up for a minute. Some of us clean and tidy up all year round, even during the Winter. So, when Spring comes, we don’t have to do much. But, some of us don’t do much cleaning or maintenance, perhaps we ignore the build up of dirt & dust around us during the Winter and it becomes obvious, we see and feel the layers of accumulation, inside and out.
To purify ourselves from the accumulation of Winter (heavy, wet, tired, unmotivated, sluggish mind & body), Ayurveda suggests a reset for your digestive system through cleansing. Ayurvedic cleansing is a preparation, detoxification, and rejuvenation process. There are certain times of the year that are ideal for cleansing. Spring is one of those times!
It’s true that a traditional Ayurvedic cleanse can be intense and flat-out not possible for today's busy person. If you do not have the option to minimize your workload for 10 -14 days, including a full day to stay home (and purge!), and rest a lot, forget about trying to force an Ayurvedic cleanse. It is not something you can or want to do half-ass. With that said, there are ways to do your own at-home reset with some simple adjustments to your daily routine.
I recommend a 7- to 10-day mono-diet, where you eliminate all other foods, caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, all processed foods, fried foods, cold foods/drinks. One of the best dishes to do this with is Kitchari. Kitchari is a one pot meal consisting of part of white basmati rice and part yellow split lentils (dal), and veggies (see recipe below).
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, kitchari is nourishing and easy to digest....oh, and delicious!
You will need to following items from the market -- and remember, you will need enough to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 7 days:
10 cups of dal (yellow split lentils)
5 cups of white basmati rice
Fresh ginger root
Ghee (you can make your own)
Lime (not lemon)
Asafoetida (hing) (you can find in most Asian markets)
Organic Almond Oil (for self-massage)
Wash and soak 2 cups of dal overnight, rinse & drain.
Wash 1 cup of rice & drain.
In a big soup pot saute the following on medium heat until everything is aromatic:
1 heaping tbsp of ghee
1 tsp of coriander seeds
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of turmeric
1⁄4 tsp of asafoetida (hing)
1 tbsp of grated ginger
Few dashes of salt
Few dashes of black pepper
Once it becomes aromatic, add 2 handfuls of chopped kale, 1 handful of chopped zucchini, 1 handful of chopped asparagus, (1 handful of peeled and chopped beets if you like them).
And then add the rice and lentils.
Pour in 6 cups of filtered water. Stir. Bring to a boil. Turn down to low, cover and cook until rice and dal are soft. You want it to be more on the “soupy” side rather than dry. When you are ready to serve it, add a handful of chopped cilantro on top and a spritz of fresh lime juice. There should be enough for lunch and dinner.
*Ginger (good for those who tend to be cold).
In a pot boil 2 cups of water add 1 tsp of raw ginger grated and a few dashes of cayenne pepper. Let boil for about 5 minutes, turn off heat. Let sit for a few more minutes and then add some fresh lime juice. Do not add lime in the boiling water.
*Cumin, Coriander, Fennel (good for those who tend to be warm.
In a pot boil 2 cups of water and add a pinch each of cumin, coriander, fennel seeds. Boil for 5 minutes, turn off heat. Let sit for a few more minutes and then enjoy.
How much to eat per meal? Cup both of your hands out in front of you, palms facing up. This is the amount you want to eat for breakfast and dinner. Double that for lunch. Drink plenty of tea throughout the day. Avoid cold or iced drinks. You can add a serving of fresh, sweet, juicy fruit (like pears!) for a mid afternoon snack.
Mindful Digestion Starts in the Mind
When you eat, sit down and eat preferably in a quiet, relaxed space. Avoid any disturbances (yes, the phone, a book, lots of conversation are considered a disturbance). Set an intention before you take your first bite. For example, “May this meal nourish me in every way.”
Take small bites, chew your food slowly and mash it around in your mouth. Breathe fully and completely in between bites. You can enjoy small sips of your tea of choice. Enjoy your meal!
This portion is really important because our mind, body, and spirit require love and attention. When you wake in the morning:
Clean your mouth (oil pulling, teeth brushing) before you eat or drink.
Drink a cup of warm water.
Have a bowel movement.
Warm almond oil by sitting the jar in a bowl of hot water. Use this for your body. Lay a towel on the floor. Start with your feet and massage yourself, moving up your body toward your collar bones. Fingers, up your arms/shoulders toward your collar bones. Massage your scalp and face, moving downward toward your collar bones. Take time with this, massaging yourself with love and care. If you have time, leave the oil on for about 15 minutes (this can also be done in the evening).
Have your morning bowl of kitchari.
Bring a big thermos of tea with you to sip during your day.
If you work away from home, pack your lunch portion of kitchari in a thermos.
Eat lunch at noon, when digestion is strongest!
Avoid snacking throughout the day.
Avoid too much physical activity.
For dinner, have your kitchari. Be done eating by 7pm, when digestion is weakest!
Repeat the above for 1 week. After that week very slowly start to introduce clean foods back into your diet and watch how your body responds. If you notice bloating or digestive problems you may want to eliminate that item from your diet.
Have fun with this, it shouldn’t be a burden or a painful experience. Please keep in mind that these are only suggestions and you should always listen to your body. If you are truly listening, it will give you the best advice!
Participate in an Ayurvedic Cleansing as a Group
Every Spring and end of Summer my students and I do a complete Ayurvedic cleanse as a group, led by my practitioner, Simone deWinter. If you know that you are ready and able to do our group cleanse, please direct message me about joining our group cleanse that starts April 29th - May 8th and I will send you info.
Stay tuned for my next Ayurvedic Self-Care Tips in mid-May for more Spring self-care!